Australia's Parliament has passed the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2018, with the federal government saying it will enable rights holders to better fight copyright infringement. The Australian government introduced the new legislation in October, proposing to expand piracy site-block laws from carriage service providers to online search engine providers. The Bill will also allow faster blocks of mirror sites, reduce the burden of proving that a site is hosted outside of Australia, and expand the legislation to sites that not only have the "primary purpose", but also to those that have the "primary effect" of infringing copyright. "The government has zero tolerance for online piracy. It is theft, and damaging to our creative economy and local creators. We are committed to protecting Australia's creative industries and the world-class content we produce every year," Communications Minister Mitch Fifield said.
If you search for the Australian Liberal Party on Google Monday, the results may look a little different. Google has launched its experimental Google Posts feature in Australia, a company spokesperson confirmed to Mashable Australia. The platform, which feels something like a one-way social media platform, allows select people and organisations to add blog posts or video directly to the top of their search results, and the conservative party is one of the first to get started. The product, which was first offered to presidential candidates during the current U.S. election, has now been made available to a wide number of registered Australian politicians, Fairfax Media reported. Prime ministerial candidates Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten had not begun posting at time of writing, however.
Google Australia has made its financial results to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) available, reporting AU$125 million in after-tax profit for 2017, up from the AU$104 million posted a year prior. Profit before tax was AU$149 million, on revenue of AU$1.02 billion, which comprised of AU$604 million from advertising, AU$266 million from research and development (R&D) services, and AU$136 million from hardware. Reported under Australian accounting standard AASB 15, revenue numbered AU$1.02 billion; however if the company reported under AASB 118, revenue would be revealed as pushing AU$3.46 billion. Google Australia adopted the AASB 15 standard on January 1, 2017. Cost of sales and services for the 12-month period was AU$459 million, down from the AU$700 million reported in 2016.
A Senate committee has recommended that the piracy site-block amendments be passed as is, despite objections from global tech giants. In a report published on Monday night, the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee said that while it "appreciates" concerns raised, it is of the view that there are enough safeguards in the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2018, which it called "measured and proportionate". "The committee appreciates the concerns raised with respect to the scope of the amendments, particularly those regarding the proposals to introduce a'primary effect' test, extend the operation of the injunctive regime to search engines, and allow the Federal Court to issue'adaptive' injunctions," the report said. "However, the committee is of the view that there appear to be adequate safeguards in the Bill to ensure that the measures would not result in unintended and adverse consequences." The committee also said legitimate online locations are unlikely to be captured by the legislation, and threw its weight behind the government's proposal to extend the site-block laws to search engines.
The Australian government has introduced new legislation to Parliament to bolster its laws allowing content holders to gain Federal Court orders for ISPs to block foreign-hosted piracy websites, expanding it from carriage service providers to online search engine providers. The Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2018 [PDF], introduced on Thursday, "strengthens the existing, successful website-blocking scheme introduced by the government in 2015 by allowing more pirate websites to be targeted and making it harder for pirates to circumvent blocking measures", according to the government. Under s115A(2), rights holders can now gain injunctions requiring online search engine providers to "not provide search results that include domain names, URLs, and IP addresses that provide access to the online location and that are specified in the injunction" both before and after the injunction is made, meaning it would more easily cover mirror sites. According to the explanatory memorandum [PDF], the Bill also expands the definition from "primary purpose" to also include websites that have the "primary effect of infringing or facilitating the infringement of copyright". Under the Bill, the presumption would be that the online location is outside Australia unless proven otherwise, also reducing the evidentiary burden on copyright owners.