The Abbott Government is seeking to overturn the landmark High Court decision dealing with Internet piracy, as part of a misguided attempt to penalise ordinary Australians for the refusal of giant multinational corporations to make their content available locally in an affordable and timely fashion.
This afternoon, Crikey published a discussion paper penned by Attorney-General George Brandis and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, which openly canvasses the possibility of overturning the High Court's 2012 decision finding iiNet was not responsible for its users downloading films and TV shows via the Internet.
Such a move would unleash a wave of lawsuits as giant film and TV studios re-open legal action to try and get Australian ISPs to act as ‘copyright police' in penalising their customers for online copyright infringement.
The paper also discusses a range of other options for tackling the issue, including forcing ISPs to block websites, sending users warning notices, and even limiting the broadband connections of those who are only suspected of pirating content online.
What the discussion paper doesn't contain is any attempt to address the real reason why Australians pirate films and TV shows online - the ongoing refusal of giant corporations to make their content available in an affordable and timely fashion.
Just getting access to watch HBO's popular Game of Thrones show can cost Australians up to $50 a month - and the show is only available week by week from one source: pay TV giant Foxtel, which is co-owned by Telstra and Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.
The Greens believe the Abbott Government is trying to protect an outdated dinosaur of a business model where a small group of mega-corporations control all access to the content Australians want to access. This isn't a surprise, given the hundreds of thousands of dollars film and TV studios have recently donated to the Coalition .
But it won't solve the issue of Internet piracy. The only way to do that is to make content easily accessible to all Australians. That's already happening in the music, video game and book industries. The film and TV industries will eventually have to face that reality as well.