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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 identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+


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  1. identicon
    Peter, 22 Feb 2016 @ 2:18pm

    cents per notice is crap

    The fact that a stamp to send a letter costs $1, means the industry statement of cents per letter is total rubbish.

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