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Australian Government Anti-Piracy Plans Boost Demand For VPNs

Friday, July 17th, 2015

Australian online users are rushing to subscribe to VPN services in droves after the authorities announced tougher measures to combat the menace of online piracy. As per media reports, local ISPs have proposed a stiff 3-strikes program to fight pirates which is very similar to the anti-piracy program used in many states of United States. Australian netizens found sharing or downloading copyrighted content henceforth could face lawsuits or heavy fines from content owners which explains the rush to subscribe to anonymizing services like Virtual Private Networks.

Australia is often cited as the piracy capital of the world. American and European media companies often complain that millions of Australians download and view copyrighted material produced within their borders illegally thus causing significant revenue loss to them. On the other hand, Australian users complain that movies and TV shows reach them weeks or months later after getting released or telecast in other countries and sometimes do not reach their shores at all. It is no surprise that impatient Australian users who are interested in watching a particular TV show or movie often turn to torrenting or streaming sites where such content is readily available.

The lack of a richer content library also explains why millions of Australians still prefer to watch the American version of Netflix even after the streaming service has made its debut within the country. The Australian government was clearly not happy with the piracy capital tag and the blatant violation of copyright laws. The government first tried to strike a compromise between local ISPs and entertainment companies but when the effort failed, it demanded stronger measures from the Internet Service Providers and threatened to unveil a stronger law against online piracy in case the service providers did not comply.

Faced with no choice, Australian telecom body Communications Alliance then published a proposal outlining the 3-strikes program. The program has been nicknamed as ‘Copyright Notice Scheme Industry Code’ and it allows ISPs to send infringement notices to subscribers who download or share illegal content. Subscribers are also warned that if they continue with their file sharing activities then copyright holders have every right to move to the court in order to obtain their identities and file copyright violation cases against them. The proposed 3-strikes program has become a cause of concern for Australian citizens and consumer groups alike. While the program has not yet been launched officially and the punishment for copyright violation and file sharing activities is still not known, groups like Choice are warning citizens about potential lawsuits and possibility of heavy fines. This has not escaped the attention of Australian citizens either who are already scrambling to subscribe to IP hiding services. Many VPN providers, including TorGuard, have reported an increase in traffic and subscriptions from Australia. Some VPN companies are even adding additional servers to cope up with the increased demand from down under. However, the majority of Australian file sharers are still not using any kind of anonymity service and thus are likely to receive anti-piracy notifications from their ISPs once the 3-strikes program becomes a reality.

July 17, 2015

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