AMBER VERNETTI WRITES – To thwart digital pirates, the Australian government has put forward a plan to keep websites from hosting copyrighted material. Aussie creative types and the media say ‘Bravo’.

The Media, Entertainment, and Arts Alliance (MEAA), a union representing artists, film makers, journalists and other creators, say they support the government’s proposal and suggest that rights-owners should be able to actively interfere with sites sporting pirated content.

Possible solutions to Australia’s widespread Internet piracy range from issuing written warnings to offending sites, to throttling down connection speeds or canning them altogether. “Some ISPs will no doubt argue that consumers will get around the injunction,” the MEAA stated. “However, clearly anything that makes piracy more complicated and time-consuming will reduce its incidence.”

Supporters point to a reported 60 percent drop in traffic to the infamous Pirate Bay file-sharing site in countries like the United Kingdom where site blocking has been deployed. Of course the trick in to ensure innocent sites aren’t swept up in the purge. By some accounts more than 250,000 legitimate websites were mistakenly banned last year in an attempt to shut out sites that actually pirate.

The telecom industry group Communications Alliance said ISPs would consider blocking websites if proper security measures are made to avoid collateral damage or even censorship. “If the Government proceeds down this path, therefore, careful safeguards should be built into the process, to ensure that it is not abused, or become akin to any form of censorship,” the group stated.

After Attorney-General George Brandis labeled Australia as the “world’s ‘worst offender’ for illicit downloading,” the question remains: Who will cover the administrative costs to dramatically reduce online piracy — telecom or copyright holders?

Regardless of who foots the bill, offenders should take heed: Avast ye, online pirates! Illegal downloading is unfair to those who actually own the copyrights. Savvy?