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Village Roadshow defends 'three strikes' policy against piracy, says iiNet is "scaremongering"

​With iiNet once again sparking debate on piracy and Federal Government representatives refusing to rule out a 'three strikes' response to the issue, Village Roadshow has opened up about how such a policy would actually be enforced.

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Image by Jaskirat Singh Bawa, CC BY-ND 2.0

Village Roadshow has argued the case for a graduated response to piracy after iiNet said it was the . The comments from the film studio come after the government indicated the so-called 'three strikes' response to illegal downloading was not off the table in Australia.

Speaking to CNET, Village Roadshow chief operating officer Clark Kirby said the process of identifying the illegal online behaviour would not require ISPs to track their customers. Instead, his comments point towards rights holders implementing their own 'honeypot' techniques to catch offenders.

"The 'invasion of privacy' argument propagated by the opponents of reform is once again simply blatant scaremongering," said Kirby. "ISPs do not and are never asked to 'track' the content of someone who is downloading.

"When someone uses peer to peer software (such as BitTorrent) to share infringing content they make their IP address available for everyone to see. These IP addresses, along with the specific time and date when the infringing file was being downloaded, are provided by rights holders to the ISP.

"The ISP (as they do with their billing system) will be able to match the specific time and date stamp and IP address with a customer account. This was the investigative process used in the Roadshow v iiNet case and not once did the court raise the issue of breaches of privacy."

As for the cost of implementing a three strikes policy -- which iiNet said would result in increased charges for all customers, "even those who subscribe to legal sources of content" -- Kirby said it was the responsibility of those on all sides of the piracy debate.

"Content owners accept that they will need to shoulder some of the cost of enforcement and are prepared to do so," he said. "The ISPs, however, must also recognise their integral role in the piracy epidemic and in turn, the solution.

"For ISPs to shirk their responsibility would be like the Melbourne Airport refusing to contribute towards security and screening of the passengers that use their facility."

Site blocking and 'censorship'

Kirby has also rejected claims that content creators and rights holders are calling for the government to "censor the internet" by blocking particular websites.

"Such language is merely used by those with a vested interest in monetising 'free commercial content' to reframe and muddy the debate," he said.

Rather, Village Roadshow is calling on the government to introduce a "legislative process" so that rights holders "can provide the requisite evidence and apply to a court for a no-fault injunction for an ISP to block access to an overseas website".

Kirby cited similar legislative processes established in Europe, saying the Court of Justice of the European Union found that "site blocking injunctions do not censor nor infringe the freedom of information".

Similar actions in Australia, he said, would block access to sites "operated by criminals whose sole purpose is to monetise access (through advertising and subscription revenues) to illegal movies, TV shows, music and e-books".

"To argue against blocking a website on the basis that another will spring up in its place is akin to not bothering to arrest a drug dealer simply because another dealer will just take his place."