George Brandis wants to strengthen Australia’s Intellectual Property laws:
It involves three main proposals, but the big one is overturning the important iiNet decision that highlighted that ISPs are protected from liability for users infringing, because they’re not the proactive party. In other words, under that ruling, ISPs can’t be forced to be copyright cops. Brandis’ plan would wipe that out, requiring ISPs to spy on user activity and try to block any “bad stuff” from happening, or they would face liability …
The second part of the proposal is basically Australia’s version of SOPA. It would allow for website blocking of “infringing overseas sites.” And it would be like the original SOPA, with a “private right of action,” allowing entire websites to be blocked on the say so of the copyright holder. …
The final piece of the plan appears to be an attempt to buy off internet companies that are likely to oppose this plan, in that it extends safe harbor protections to more of them. Basically, this is a cynical ploy to try to split the obvious opposition of this plan.
(HT: Old Misery Guts)
Did you hear what Brandis said?
There is a very strong public interest in the protection of private property and that includes intellectual property …
Not that I disagree – but what evidence exists to support that Brandis actually believes that notion? What evidence exists to support the idea that the protection of private property is supported by Australian law? Let’s look no further than the plain packaging laws:
But the six judges who ruled against the challenge said while the government had imposed rules and regulations on the tobacco companies, it was not using their property for its own benefit and so was not violating the constitution.
”Although the (Tobacco Plain Packaging) act regulated the plaintiffs’ intellectual property rights and imposed controls on the packaging and presentation of tobacco products it did not confer a proprietary benefit or interest on the Commonwealth,” a summary of the judgement said.
So property rights confer certain rights:
- the right to use the property,
- the right to earn income from the property,
- the right to dispose of the property.
Yet the previous government – with the full support of the then opposition – legislated to deprive tobacco firms of, at least, two of those three rights.
Now online piracy, arguably, does not deprive intellectual property owners of any of their rights – it does reduce their profits but they are still in possession of all of their rights.
So Brandis needs to explain why and how Australian pirates are any different from him. Why does he think that online piracy is theft when private individuals engage in that activity, but government expropriation of intellectual property is acceptable?
Looking forward to his guest post on the issue.