Debate on site blocking regime begins- urgent search for Opposition underway

media-releases

Parliament has begun debating a controversial website blocking regime at the behest of foreign rights holders and lobbyists who have collectively donated millions of dollars to the Liberal and Labor parties.

"This is a lazy and dangerous piece of legislation, and it wouldn't be happening if the Opposition hadn't gone completely missing," Senator Scott Ludlam, Australian Greens communication spokesperson said today.

"The Greens will move a series of amendments to try and blunt the worst impacts of this bill, but passing them would require the Labor Party to reappear. If anyone has seen them, please let us know," said Senator Ludlam.

"By resorting to site blocking in an attempt to reduce copyright infringement, the government is using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. This poorly drafted bill may open the way for the courts to criminalise the legitimate use of VPNs, will be trivial to circumvent, wide open to scope-creep in the future and does nothing to advance genuine copyright reform.

"The government is ignoring the opportunity to work with content providers and remove the reasons for people currently accessing content through torrents and other sources. Just deliver content in a timely and affordable manner, and piracy collapses," Senator Ludlam concluded. 

The Australian Greens' amendments:

- Amendment delaying Senate debate on the bill until the Government tables its response to Australian Law Reform Commission's 2013 report on copyright reform and the 2013 House of Reps IT price hike inquiry 

- Clear up the definition of sites targeted by the bill so that it cannot include Virtual Private Networks which have legitimate purposes

- Remove the ability of the bill to target sites "facilitating" copyright infringement, as this could target legitimate sites

- Change the definition of sites targeted by the bill to specify that the sites must be "flagrantly" infringing copyright. This is referred to elsewhere in the bill but currently not required to be considered

- Allowing third parties (for example, consumer/public interest groups) to join the injunction applications as parties to help oppose websites being blocked

- Amend the Copyright Act to explicitly state that evading geo-blocking does not constitute copyright infringement - the bill is currently unclear

- Give any third-party the ability to seek a review of a website block