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Can the new anti-piracy laws be enforced and actually stop illegal access to content


The new anti-piracy laws will see access to sites serving up copyright content illegally blocked to Australians. But the big question is can these new laws be enforced?

There’s been a massive reaction to the bill which passed through the Senate 37-13 yesterday to make it law to block access to foreign sites like Pirate Bay and other torrent sites.

It could only be a matter of days before what effectively is a filter comes into effect.

And while the Government’s intentions are honourable in protecting content rights holders, it has drawn strong criticism about how far this filter will go in the future.

Senator David Leyonhjelm said the bill was designed “to protect rights holders at everyone else’s expense, which is not how the rule of law is supposed to work”.

He added there was a risk that other sites and services like VPNs (virtual private network) could also be mistakenly blocked and there was no indemnities to monitor or protect against over blocking.

But, nonetheless, the new laws are unlikely to be a solution that will completely stamp out online piracy.

The Australian Government blocking known piracy websites like Pirate Bay seems easy enough.

But the internet is a raging river that’s constantly on the move. It changes by the hour.

So if these new laws do block access to some sites you can be as sure as the sun rising tomorrow morning there will be other sites to take its place.

And depending on how quickly the Government can act, more and more will pop up.

It’s a bit like that “Whack a Mole” game you see at carnivals and fairs where the player has a mallet and has to hit the mole as soon as it sticks its head up.

But even when you’ve batted down one there are others that are also constantly sticking their heads up.

Australians are also pretty resourceful when it comes to finding and accessing content on the internet.

Take the use of VPNs as an example.

Resourceful users who wanted to access Netflix long before it was launched in Australia used the VPN to hide their location and trick the US Netflix service they were in the US and able to sign up for the service.

With a VPN there’s nothing to stop people accessing the sites that have been blocked in Australia by the Government by appearing to be logging in from the other side of the world.

I’ve always said I don’t condone people stealing content but the piracy of today is accessing content we love because we had no reasonable and affordable access to it.

We’re not talking about pirates who rip off movies, burn them on DVD and sell them at a market stall.

Under these new laws, next year when Game of Thrones is aired the only way you can watch it in Australia the day each episode is aired is on Foxtel.

With these torrent sites blocked, non-Foxtel customers now have to wait until the 10-episode season is finished before they can download the entire season legally on iTunes, Google Play Store and other sites.

Netflix and other streaming services like Stan and Presto are plugging the gap with a range of first run TV shows that we’re getting at the same time as the US.

Now if we only had these services a few years ago, we wouldn’t need new anti-piracy laws.