iiNet proposes that internet pirates get demerit points

iiNet has proposed that a new independent body be set-up to deal with instances of copyright infringements. The ISP has suggested that the new body deal with piracy cases using a “demerit point” system similar to the one used for traffic offenders.

Three weeks ago we saw iiNet win the case brought against them by the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT), and many industry professionals have been left wondering what this case will mean in terms of the rights holders, ISPs and internet users. iiNet have been busy proposing a plan which leaves ISPs free from dealing with internet pirates directly.

iiNet released the discussion paper yesterday, which suggests that instead of an industry code be set-up, an independent body – likely to be government backed – to act as a mediator between ISPs, internet users and the rights holders.
According to iiNet’s proposal, the rights holders would be responsible for identifying instances of copyright infringement, and the independent body would then investigate the case, and if there was sufficient evidence that copyright had been breached, the body would be responsible for handing out appropriate penalties.

Instead of cutting off a user’s internet altogether, iiNet has recommended demerit points and fines be issued instead.

“Infringements can be ranked as minor (say, single instances), major (say multiple instances of different files) or serious (at a commercial level) - each level having prescribed penalties,” the ISP said.

“A scale of fines can be established, relative to the economic loss represented, and demerit points could also be awarded in line with the severity of the infringements.”

Producing a certain amount of demerit points could see users face a court sentence or “shaping of peer to peer traffic", iiNet stated.

Steve Dalby, iiNet’s Chief Regulatory Officer has contended that ISP’s should not be responsible for chasing up breaches of copyright, or for handing out the penalties for it. iiNet’s paper seems to conclude that the rights holders should be responsible for the cost of the independent body, and that fines which have been issued could assist in paying for that cost.

The ruling three weeks ago by the Federal Court has left ISPs with no protection against the actions of their customers. Furthermore, if rights holders are able to improve the way they deliver infringement notices, and pay for ISPs to examine them, ISPs may be forced to disconnect customers who are in breach of copyright laws.

Internet piracy is set to rise once the NBN is implemented, with content industries allegedly losing $900 million already.