Nothing about the internet changes the fact that the owner of
the copyright in a book, movie or music is the only party that has
the right to exploit that material. They can offer an end user a
license to access the material for a fee, they can give an end user
the right to download and play a movie for their personal use, or
they can license a movie chain to play that movie in the cinema.
Those rights belong to the owner of the copyright and no-one else
has the right to use or access the material unless they have the
permission (and paid the fee if required) of the rights holder.
Bit torrent and other file-sharing methods have sought to
'get around' these copyright restrictions but, legal
technicalities aside, piracy remains a fundamental breach of
accepted laws that protect intellectual property rights.
Prevalence of online piracy
Online piracy and downloading of copyright material is a
significant issue in Australia. Recent studies have shown that it
remains a wide spread practice. Research conducted by the
Australian Government showed that 43% of content consumers had
consumed some illegal content in the period surveyed. The leading
motives for infringement were that it is free (55%), convenient
(51%) and quick (45%).
Of the 2630 people interviewed, the percentage of respondents
who admitted consuming pirated content in the last three months,
48% had illegally downloaded movies, 37% had downloaded music, 33%
TV programs and 22% video games.
The industry and government are working towards a solution that
better protects the legitimate rights owners of the copyright in
these products. Recent amendments to the Copyright Act
1968 (Cth) enable the blocking of infringing overseas
websites. These complement the Copyright Notice Scheme Industry
Code that is currently being developed by both rights holders and
internet service providers as part of the solution.
A further version of the Copyright Notice Scheme Code (the Code)
was submitted for registration to the Australian Communications and
Media Authority (ACMA) on 8 April 2015 but agreement has not yet
been reached on all issues – particularly in relation to who
is to pay for it's implementation.
What is the Code?
To address the issues, the interested parties have agreed to
create and enforce an industry code. Under the Code, residential
fixed line internet consumers who have allegedly infringed
copyright will receive an escalating series of infringement
notices. If they receive three notices within 12 months and a
copyright holder applies to the court for preliminary discovery
seeking to find out identity and contact details from an ISP, the
ISP will need to act reasonably to assist the copyright
holder's application. However, the decision whether to grant
preliminary discovery will still be made by the court.
If it is registered, the notice scheme was intended to commence
on 1 September 2015 but the appointment of an independent assessor
to help resolve the outstanding issues about costs is now likely to
delay its implementation.
Relevantly, the Federal government's anti-piracy bill (the
Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015) passed into
law late in June. That law now enables rights holders to seek
injunctions requiring ISPs to block access to overseas websites
where the rights holder can prove that the 'primary
purpose' of the website is to infringe copyright.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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The Ugg boots case revolves around who holds the trade mark rights to the word 'Ugg' in relation to sheepskin boots.
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