Three Strikes System In Australia 'Too Costly' For Industry; Seems Piracy Not Such A Massive Problem After All

from the kangaroo-courts dept

It was evident when the “three strikes” or “graduated response” was first proposed in France back in 2009 that it was a really bad idea. After all, in its crudest form, it cuts people off from what has become a necessity for modern life — the Internet — simply because they are accused of copyright infringement, an area of law that is notoriously full of uncertainties. Given that inauspicious start, it’s no surprise that over the years, the three strikes system has failed everywhere, with some of the early adopters either dropping it, or putting it on hold. No wonder, then, that a latecomer, Australia, is also having problems with implementing the approach, as this report from c|net makes clear:

A three strikes scheme to track down individual pirates and send them warning letters about their downloading habits has been all but quashed, after rights holders and ISPs decided that manually targeting and contacting downloaders would be too costly.

However, as in the US, where the “six strikes” scheme is also flailing, the Australian copyright industry has no intention of seizing this opportunity to move on from this punitive approach. Instead, it wants to make it worse by automating the process. Village Roadshow Co-CEO Graham Burke, who Techdirt wrote about back in 2014, is quoted as saying:

“When automation occurs, instead of costing AU$16 or AU$20 a notice [about US$12 or US$15], which is just prohibitive, it will cost cents per notice,” he said. “In other words, the ISPs will have an automated system that can be done simply, as opposed to at the moment it’s manual.”

Of course, an automated system is likely to be plagued by false positives even more than one operated by humans. The much lower cost involved — cents rather than dollars per letter — means that there will be no economic incentive to check for these in order to keep the numbers down, which are likely to balloon as a result. In other words, it seems clear that the three strikes system in Australia is about to get much worse — and it was bad to begin with.

But there is one piece of positive news to emerge from this story. The Australian copyright industry says that it is not worth pursuing alleged copyright infringement cases unless the three strikes system costs almost nothing to use. Clearly, then, the real scale of the losses caused by online piracy is nowhere near as great as companies love to claim, otherwise basic economics would push them to use even a manual system. That’s yet another reason to get rid of the flawed and disproportionate graduated response.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or, and +glynmoody on Google+

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Companies: village roadshow

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Comments on “Three Strikes System In Australia 'Too Costly' For Industry; Seems Piracy Not Such A Massive Problem After All”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

How about a trade?

They can automate filing strike claims if every false claim is punished to the tune of 200% of costs incurred to fight it, plus $500 or the equivalent.

If they believe that the number of ‘mistaken’ claims will be minimal, then the penalty won’t be a problem, as I’m sure they will do everything in their power, making every effort to make sure that they have the right person before sending out a claim, and would never throw accuracy to the wind and operate on the ‘send enough claims and at least some of them will hit the right people’ mindset.

Anonymous Coward says:

it’s a bigger reason that actually then shows exactly that the industries claims are total bullshit! it also proves that the aim is not to stop ‘piracy’ but to get control of the best distribution medium so far invented, the Internet. if the industries do manage to get the control they want, and they are getting nearer and nearer every day, the internet will be nothing like it is today, with every company having to pay to use it and every product or service having to be vetted by Hollywood etc before it’s even allowed to have a website!!

Median Wilfred says:

Where's that pro-copyright troll?

Wait a minute! If The Masnickator had written this fact-based article, that one troll who always posts anonymously, would have shown up and tried to derail the comments. When Glynn Moody posts, the anoymous troll never bothers to comment. I bet Moody isn’t covered in the troll’s contract, and since said troll is pretty obviously a lawyer (or used to be a lawyer), he sticks to the terms of his contract, and ignores Glynn Moody.

william (profile) says:

basically if the total cost of investigating a infringement case is 20, and now it’s costing $19 to the industry and $1 to the customer, they want to flip it to cost $0.01 for industry and $19.99 for the customers and ISPs (but mostly customers since they are the one fighting the false positives)

Classic industry move to try to move the cost to externality.

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