IIA to develop industry code on copyright

Code will cover ISPs as well as search, hosting and social media providers

The Internet Industry Association (IIA) has revealed it will produce an industry code defining the industry's obligations to follow up on copyright claims.

The code has been planned in the wake of the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft's (AFACT's) dismissed appeal against the landmark iiNet court judgement. This ruling indicates that providers could be held responsible for piracy by its users in the future.

IIA's code will cover ISPs as well as search, hosting and social media providers, detailing both their rights and obligations under the law.

IIA CEO, Peter Coroneos, said the February court decision on AFACT's appeal showed these obligations remain unclear.

“The case has provided us with welcome guidance on where responsibilities should begin and end, but falls short in defining reasonable steps intermediaries should take in responding to allegations of infringement by their users,” he said. “The code will fill that gap.”

The IIA will also move to protect its members by renewing efforts to extend the safe harbour protections under the Copyright Act to intermediaries beyond carriage service providers such as ISPs.

The current wording of the Act leaves “search providers, social network media, universities, auction sites, hosting and cloud services, corporate networks and others exposed to potential liability for the infringing acts of their users,” Coroneos said.

Federal Attorney General, Robert McClelland in February agreed to reconsider the government's approach to safe harbour provisions.

Coroneos added that he hoped the two initiatives will stimulate the development of new digital distribution business models emphasising affordability and quality of content.

“We certainly don't condone the infringement of copyright - but internet users need attractive, lawful alternatives if we are to see positive behavioural change,” he said.

AFACT first filed suit against iiNet in 2008, alleging the company effectively endorsed piracy by its users by failing to act on copyright claims filed by major media studios. But iiNet fought back, stating it should not be responsible for policing its users.

iiNet won the original case, but AFACT subsequently appealed. While this appeal was thrown out in February, the full judgement made it clear that the issue of accountability is far from settled.

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