The Australian parliament has passed a new law aimed at curbing the piracy as regards to the Australian entertainment industry. The law targets websites like ThePirateBay and other online portals that distribute copyrighted content illegally. The passage of this law has seen mixed to horrified reaction by the general public, whereas the Australian entertainment industry is gung-ho about this new law. This law gives the copyright holder the allowance to complain about copyright infringement of their content with a promise that the courts would give a binding order to the country’s ISP to block the infringing website. The main reason being cited by the production houses is the loss of revenue and consequent effect on the individuals working in the Australian entertainment industry. The law in itself is evidently for the right purposes but does so ambiguously. The ambiguity cited by many is in the usage of the term “primary purpose” under the specification that any website whose primary purpose is to distribute unlicensed content is liable to get subjected to censorship at the ISP level. Another aspect is the evident awareness of the lobbyists and the government that such censorship can be easily circumvented by using a VPN service.
The major concern that surfaces as regards to this law is that serviced like Mega (reincarnation of Megaupload), Dropbox, Box, WeTransfer and the like come under the scrutiny. If the production houses of Australia find any illegal content (intentionally put by a user or unintentionally) on such service providers, it would put other users in danger and this would lead to a repeat of Megaupload saga. Many point out that the lobbyists are tied to Rupert Murdoch, News Corporation and the success of Game of Thrones. It is being lamented on the inter-webs that Australians do not get content easily and at a fair price, so they have to resort to piracy. The taxes charged are too much, on top of the premium prices for consuming content. Thence, users go to a Torrent site and download content. If a torrent site is blocked, some hop IPs using a VPN and download pirated content.
The actual bill is available online at http://goo.gl/h8lLcE. Its actually an amendment to the copyright law and comes under online infringement. The umbrella term used is indeed quite dangerous: “.. the primary purpose of the online location is to infringe, or to facilitate the infringement of, copyright (whether or not in Australia).” That might even mean if you download a copyrighted material that’s available on an FTP server hosted by a friend and that friend downloaded the content from YouTube, you are in trouble. The safe side is that the law is for Australians, but the scary side is that VPN providers might be targeted next, if this does not work out. Now, if this works out or not is not in the hands of the general public, but in the hands of the parliament and the lobbyists. Both, storage providers and VPNs have legitimate uses, and no one wants to attack those. The Australian government is aware of the sensitivity of the issues, whereas it cannot be ignored that the law’s primary statements might be replicated in other countries.
In conclusion, it has to be noted that using VPN and storage services is still safe. Unless you are knowingly doing piracy. It also has to be noted that Australians might experience piracy sites being blocked off by their ISP. More so, any government would not want 188.8.131.52 (Google’s name server address) written on its walls by angry masses; like it happened in Turkey when Twitter was blocked off. It has to be seen what actions are taken by the production houses and against which websites. Last year the Australian government incorrectly blocked off harmless sites owing to their ignorance of how the Internet works. It is unlikely that Australia’s progressive government lets such a thing happen again. Stay tuned!