Copyright reform: eBay not sold on website blocking

Endorses 'follow the money' to undermine revenue of pirate sites

Online auction behemoth eBay has rejected key measures proposed by the federal government to tackle online copyright infringement.

A proposal to extend the circumstances in which an Internet service provider could be held responsible for copyright infringement by its users "would have the unintended consequence of creating significant legal uncertainty for many other types of businesses who arguably fall within the scope of the authorisation provisions such as Internet search engines, universities, libraries and hosts of user generated content," states a submission (PDF) by eBay to the public consultation conducted by the Attorney-General's Department

"This regulatory uncertainty would undoubtedly strongly influence decisions by entrepreneurs and established businesses alike with respect to where they develop new and emerging technologies."

"eBay is aware that ISPs and rights holders are currently discussing the adoption of an industry code which would codify a process whereby rights holders can escalate suspected cases of infringement to ISPs for investigation," the submission states.

"Such a code, which could be easily amended and updated as technology evolves, would be a far preferable outcome to regulation."

Similarly, the auction site opposes a proposed system whereby rights holders could apply for court orders that would force ISPs to block access to pirate websites.

Google has also rejected the idea.

A website blocking system would be easily circumvented, imposes a burden on courts and consumers, and would set a dangerous precedent "for additional and new types of content to be added to block lists in the future".

As an alternative to the enforcement measures proposed by the government, eBay backs a 'follow the money' approach designed to undermine the revenue of websites that profit from copyright infringement.

Such an approach, modelled after a project run by the City of London Police, has also been backed by ISPs.

Follow Rohan on Twitter: @rohan_p

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