Comments to the Attorney General of Australia Regarding Australia’s Copyright Enforcement Review

March 6, 2023

 Despite what some might claim, digital content piracy remains a significant threat to creative individuals and firms that depend on copyright protection. Globally, billions of dollars in revenue and thousands of jobs are lost each year due to piracy. The point should be obvious that enabling free, illegal consumption would cut into paid, legal consumption.

The world’s leading creative countries still have a long way to go before they can say they’ve significantly reduced digital piracy, but many are finally taking steps in the right direction toward this goal. Australia has adopted many of the best policies to better target copyright infringement, but a few are missing that policymakers should consider. This submission analyzes the use of website blocking for live events, developing voluntary agreements to target other parts of the piracy ecosystem besides search, the use of updated lists of piracy sites to help major brands and advertising agencies avoid placing ads on piracy sites, and analysis of the U.S.’s new small claims court as another tool for Australia to consider.

If Australia wants to ensure its copyright enforcement tools support the development of sports and other live events in today’s era of streaming, it needs to ensure that rightsholders can effectively and efficiently protect associated IP. The WIPO argues that IP rights lay “at the heart of the huge commercial opportunities offered by the world of sport”.

The use of blocking injunctions for soccer and boxing in the United Kingdom and Ireland provides a case study for Australian policymakers.

The report proposes several policy recommendations:

1. Australia should create other voluntary agreements (detailed below) and connect them so that they reinforce their respective roles in targeting different parts of the piracy ecosystem.

2. Australia should expand the use of voluntary agreements to fight digital piracy, much like the EU has done.

3. Australia should pursue a “follow the money” approach to cutting off the money that piracy sites earn from advertisements.

4. Australia should emulate the growing number of countries that use updated lists of piracy sites to help major brands and advertising agencies avoid placing ads on piracy sites.

5. Australia should join or set up its voluntary agreement to cut piracy websites off from the financial system, similar to the RogueBlock agreement (which does not have any Australian members).