Australians should write letters to politicians expressing their opposition to the Abbott government's looming online piracy crackdown, Australia's second-largest ISP iiNet says.
In a blog post published on Tuesday, iiNet chief regulatory officer Steve Dalby took aim at comments made by Attorney-General George Brandis about the piracy crackdown.
Senator Brandis recently said he was considering a scheme for Australian internet users whereby online pirates are sent infringement notices and ISPs are required to block certain websites used to download, and share, unauthorised content such as movies and music.
Mr Dalby also lashed out at studios which he said "extorted" consumers by signing exclusive content distribution deals with subscription television services such as Foxtel.
"We believe the government is heading down the wrong path if they're serious about protecting copyright," Mr Dalby said. He added that the government's proposed graduated response scheme, where infringement notices are sent to ISP customers, had failed in other countries.
If such a scheme were adopted, he said it would likely result in increased charges for consumers through their ISP, as he believed movie studios would not foot the costs.
"This 'graduated response' [scheme] has been tried in countries including the US, France, New Zealand, Taiwan, South Korea and the UK and [has delivered] an ominous lack of evidence that this response does anything to curtail piracy or lead to increased sales," Mr Dalby wrote.
He cited research by Monash University law academic Rebecca Giblin, published in 2013, which cast doubt on the case for future international roll-outs of the graduated response schemes, and suggested that they should be reconsidered. The research suggested there was "little to no evidence" that graduated response schemes were either "successful" or "effective".
Mr Dalby's blog post comes after documents obtained under freedom of information laws were published by technology publication ZDNet showing the Attorney-General's Department was working on the piracy crackdown with the Communications Department, whose minister is Malcolm Turnbull.
The post also comes after Senator Brandis sparred with Greens Senator Scott Ludlam in senate estimates two weeks ago on the matter, in which Brandis said the issue of online piracy was "under active consideration" by the government.
"I had a meeting with certain ... key decision-makers in this matter as recently as seven o'clock last night," he said then.
Senator Brandis also claimed in estimates that Australia was "the worst offender of any country in the world" when it came to online piracy and said he was "very concerned that the legitimate rights and interests of rights holders and content creators" were "being compromised" by piracy.
"We want to do something about that," he said.
Brandis refused to disclose the industry stakeholders he was consulting on the issues, but admitted having discussions with Telstra chief executive David Thodey and director of government relations James Shaw early last month.
"I think Telstra's contribution to this issue and their willingness to work to find a solution to the piracy issue, which is really unaddressed in Australia, has been very commendable," Senator Brandis said.
Senator Ludlam also managed to derive from estimates that a team of four within the Attorney-General Department's Civil Law Division were involved in a copyright policy working group, which is considering a graduated response scheme as one of several options.
In response to iiNet's blog post, a spokesman for Senator Brandis reiterated a statement given previously which said the government was "actively considering a range of options to tackle online piracy".
"No decision has been made," the spokesman said.