by Byron Connolly

Website blocking ‘lazy and dangerous’: Greens

Jun 22, 2015
Technology Industry

Greens senator, Scott Ludlam, has branded the government’s controversial website blocking bill a “lazy and dangerous” piece of legislation that wouldn’t been happening if the Labor government “hadn’t gone completely missing”.

Parliament has begun debating the Copyright amendment (Online infringement) Bill 2015 which, if it becomes law, will enable rights holders to apply to the Federal Court for an injunction that will force ISPs to block its customers from accessing a website. The scheme applies to websites based overseas that are involved in or facilitate copyright infringement.

Senator Ludlam said the debate had begun at the behest of foreign rights holders and lobbyists who have “collectively donated millions of dollars to the Liberal and Labor parties”.

“The Greens will move a series of amendments to try and blunt the worst impacts of this bill, but passing them would require the Labor Party to reappear. If anyone has seen them, please let us know,” Ludlam said.

Ludlam claimed that by resorting to site blocking in an attempt to reduce copyright infringement, the government is using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

“This poorly drafted bill may open the way for the courts to criminalise the legitimate use of VPNs, will be trivial to circumvent, wide open to scope-creep in the future and does nothing to advance genuine copyright reform,” Ludlam claimed.

The Greens wants an amendment delaying Senate debate on the bill until the government tables its response to the Australian Law Reform Commissions’ 2013 report on copyright reform and the 2013 House of Representatives IT price hike inquiry.

Other proposed amendments include:

  • Clearing up the definition of sites targeted by the bill so that it cannot include virtual private networks which have legitimate purposes.
  • Removing the ability of the bill to target sites facilitating copyright infringement as this could target legitimate sites.
  • Changing the definition of sites targeted by the bill to specify that the sites must be flagrantly infringing copyright.
  • Allowing third parties to join the injunction applications as parties to help oppose websites being blocked.
  • Amending the Copyright Act to explicitly state that evading geo-blocking does not constitute copyright infringement.
  • Give any third-party the ability to see a review of a website block.