You have to give an award to the Communications Alliance, Australia’s primary telecommunications industry body, for timing. The day after the preliminary discovery decision was handed down in the Dallas Buyers Club case by the Federal Court of Australia, they submitted the Copyright Notice Scheme Code 2015 for registration by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.
The new Code of Practice is designed to combat online copyright infringement in Australia. The main aspect of the Code is a new Copyright Notice Scheme through which ‘residential fixed internet users who are alleged to have infringed copyright online will receive an escalating series of infringement notices designed to change their behaviour and help steer them toward lawful sources of content’.
The Scheme will enable copyright owners to send lists of IP addresses identified to belong to alleged illegal downloaders to be cross-checked against the IP addresses of all Australian internet users who will then be issued copyright infringement notices.
If an internet user receives three copyright infringement notices in a 12-month period, ISPs will assist the copyright owners to identify the user so they can take appropriate legal steps against them. The Dallas Buyers Club case which will be unfolding over the coming weeks and months may give an indication what the likely consequences will be for such copyright infringements in Australia.
There are also safeguards built into the Code to protect the privacy of internet users and to allow an account holder who is given three infringement notices in a 12-month period to have the validity of the allegations independently reviewed.
The Scheme is also very important for ISPs because they hope it will be enough to prevent the Federal Government from introducing threatened legislation that would potentially make them responsible for unauthorised downloading by their customers. The Federal Government gave the industry 120 days on 10 December 2014 to agree on a Code. With today’s release they have made it just under the wire.