Submission to the Senate Standing Committees on Legal and Constitutional Affairs inquiry into the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015

Executive Summary: The Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2005 is an internet censorship bill. It creates a new and potentially dangerous power for courts to censor websites. This power is not proportional to the harm it is intended to ameliorate.

The bill enables copyright holders to apply for court orders against internet service providers to block access to websites whose “primary purpose” is to facilitate the infringement of copyright. This amounts to a form of judicial censorship of the internet in the private interests of copyright holders. It is inappropriate in a free society.

In a submission to the September 2014 Discussion Paper into Online Copyright Infringement, the IPA argued that proposed copyright reforms will “do nothing to tackle the underlying dynamics” that have enabled a shift in social attitudes as to the desirability of copyright enforcement. This submission is substantially drawn from the arguments made in that previous submission. The previous submission, which outlines many of the arguments below in greater detail, is attached.

Copyright is not an unlimited right. Copyright enforcement needs to be carefully counterweighed against the rights that such enforcement might limit. Intellectual property enforcement is not a sufficient justification for the abrogation of a more central right: the right to freedom of expression. The Australian government does not censor websites that can encourage much more serious harm than copyright infringement. Internet censorship for the purposes of copyright enforcement constitutes a serious and disproportionate overreach of government power and a consequent threat to freedom of speech.

Available in PDF here.