Media union pulls submission backing internet filter after journalists' protests | Technology |
MEAA now says it was never the intention to support a filter and it will consult members on a new submission

The media and arts union has hastily withdrawn a submission which endorsed an internet filter after a backlash from journalists.

In a submission to the federal government discussion paper released last month, the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) “strongly” supported the introduction of a government filter which would block content that infringed copyright.

The union, which represents journalists, actors, photographers, directors, and people working in television, radio and cinema, withdrew the submission within hours of it first being reported by ZDNet.

“It was never our intention to make a submission which could in any way be interpreted as supporting an internet filter,” the union said in a statement on its website on Thursday afternoon.

“We have previously campaigned against government proposals for an internet filter and will continue to do so, as we also continue to campaign against data retention.”

The statement said the union always fought for “the fair recognition and proper remuneration of our members’ creativity through effective copyright protection”.

“Copyright infringement is a real and serious threat to the livelihood of many of our members – journalists and performers,” the statement said.

The MEAA will make a new submission to the government after “broader” consultation with its members.

The submission
set out the case for “extended injunctive relief” against copyright infringers by proposing to allow entities to seek injunctions directly against internet service providers (ISPs) to block websites.

“MEAA welcomes the government’s recognition that rights holders are unable to take enforcement action against overseas-based websites and that action needs to be directed at intermediaries. MEAA strongly supports the proposal to allow for no-fault injunctive relief,” it said.

“Some ISPs will no doubt argue that consumers will get around the injunction by using proxy sites. However, clearly anything that makes piracy more complicated and time-consuming will reduce its incidence.”

Journalists expressed opposition to the submission on social media with many tweeting their dismay at the union supporting a filter which could potentially block other content.