After recentlyto policing copyright infringement, iiNet chief regulatory officer Steve Dalby has warned that Australia risks becoming "a brain-dead zombie" if it does not learn from mistakes seen in other regions and take a different approach to piracy.
In a strongly-worded blog post on iiNet's website, Dalby said "the content industry has not kept up" with a flourishing piracy industry that is now "totally mainstream", and said consumers have millions of options for finding and downloading content illegally.
"[The Federal Government] seems determined to be seen to be 'doing something' to ISPs while defending, at all costs, the business model of the Hollywood movie houses," said Dalby.
"File sharing is a multi-headed Hydra that government filtering and legal threats will never slay.
"Sure, we can get a minute-by-minute list from the government of all the possible sites, and try and stop the plague of locusts with a can of fly spray, but who's going to keep the list up to date, who's going to police it, who's going to pay?"
"The internet has no gate that we can put a padlock on."
Dalby goes on to criticise the Government and content providers for ignoring content access methods such as virtual private networks and proxy services, which he labels as "child's play" when it comes to bypassing online restrictions.
"New proxy servers appear faster than they can be blocked...catching them all is like trying to hold back the tide with a broom," he said.
"The only way the government could stop this traffic would be to block all encrypted traffic, a Herculean task that even the most determined dictatorships struggle to enforce."
In his last blog post, Dalby described piracy as a symptom of Australians being deprived of a viable means to access TV shows and movies quickly, without being "extorted" on price.
The iiNet chief has stayed in this vein, arguing that "many people prefer to do the right thing, and they want good service at a reasonable price". He called out those Australians using VPNs and DNS-based services to skirt around geo-blocks as examples of those "prepared to sneak into US services" to hand over their money.
While Dalby opened his broadside by pointing out that iiNet thinks "piracy is wrong", he said rights holders and the government needed be fully aware of how and why piracy was occurring in Australia.
"It may not be right, and we don't promote it, but let's take whatever steps we take with our eyes wide open. Let's not buy into the 'futility-on-a-stick' that Hollywood is peddling in Canberra.
"Years of ranting against piracy -- while ignoring customer feedback -- have got rights holders nowhere. Rather than declaring war on frustrated customers, perhaps we should declare war on the problems which have driven Australians to take their business elsewhere."
Dalby reserved the final censure for Australia's content providers and rights holders -- a parting blow that is sure to ignite the debate once again.
"To the content control freaks, we say -- start treating your customers as customers, not the enemy, and you might find things improve. It works for us."