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​iiNet rejects "heavy-handed" three strikes policy on piracy

iiNet has taken aim at Hollywood studios, content providers and the Australian Government over piracy, saying the key stakeholders in the debate are failing to address why Australians are pirating content in the first place.

iiNet is siding with consumers and taking aim at content providers over piracy. iiNet

If an image of an iiNet superhero standing next to the slogan "Fighting for our Customers" wasn't enough indication, the words said it all. In a post on the iiNet blog, the ISP's chief regulatory officer Steve Dalby has sided with consumers, saying the Australian Government, Hollywood Studios and other rights holders are failing to address why Australians are illegally downloading content.

The comments come after recent suggestions from the Attorney General's office that an ISP-enforced 'three strikes' policy on piracy could be introduced in Australia. But in addressing the common arguments from copyright holders, Dalby attacked the three strikes approach as a "heavy-handed" attempt to combat piracy.

According to Dalby, there is "an ominous lack of evidence" that a three strikes response has curtailed piracy in regions where it has been trialled, while a lack of willingness from studios to pay for the scheme leaves three strikes enforcement up to ISPs.

He argued that Governments should not be allowed to block torrent sites and defied claims that ISPs profit from piracy, saying that "content providers love to portray ISPs as the beneficiaries of piracy, but it's a dishonest image".

Dalby also weighed in on the debate around availability of content, saying this was the "fundamental difference" between iiNet and rights holders.

"They [rights holders] want to tackle how customers are pirating content. We want them to look at why, and then move forward, addressing the cause, not the symptom," he said. "Put simply, Australians want their content at the same time as the rest of the world.

"Copyright holders have shown us that they're not interested in new models for Australians, despite the success of services such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu in the USA (and other markets, including a large number of Australians bypassing these restrictions using VPN).

"The pattern of US traffic Internet now depends on what content is made available via legitimate distribution channels like Netflix, rather than on the Pirate Bay. Consumers have had decades using a mature distribution model, and it's silly to judge the success or failure of streaming services such as Spotify after only a single year of use in Australia.

"Giving your competitor a ten-year head start distributing a 'free' alternative is pretty stupid. No wonder the content industry is uncompetitive, with that attitude."