Internet industry backs iiNet in copyright fight
- 21 November, 2008 16:07
The Australian Internet industry has supported iiNet in its defence against legal action filed by the leading US media giants and the Seven Network, which experts say could force providers to police peer-to-peer traffic if the Federal Court rules in favour of the plaintiffs.
The court case, spearheaded by Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) which represents the media corporations, demands that iiNet eliminate the file sharing of copyright media over its network.
iiNet could be forced to ban peer-to-peer traffic over its network or throttle speeds, and issue the “thousands” of customers alleged to be in breach of copyright with infringement warnings.
ISPs aren't policemen
“The IIA has had a long standing view that intermediaries including ISPs, cannot be liable for the conduct of their users where they have limited knowledge or control over what those users are doing — this is a case in point,” Coroneos said, speaking broadly about ISP copyright enforcement.
“[Copyright enforcers] have unprecedented legal tools at their disposal [following amendments to the Copyright Act in 2005-2006], yet instead of using those tools to go after the people they alleged are infringing, there are calling upon the intermediaries to do their enforcement.
“They should go to the Federal Court, present their case, and seek orders for the ISP to disclose the relevant customer information to them and take action.”
Coroneos said AFACT should pursue the matter in court and not with iiNet because they only have allegations, not evidence. “To ask ISPs to threaten customers and interfere with the Internet experience, and place sanctions would only be appropriate with evidence,” he said.
Internode CEO Stephen Hackett said in an e-mail to iiNet managing director Michael Malone that the company should not be held responsible for policing network traffic.
“The industry remains of the view that ISPs aren't policemen,” Hackett said.
“The content industry should take legal action against end users if it believes they have broken the law. ISPs are like Australia Post: we just deliver it.”
Page BreakWestern Australian law firm iLaw director Anton Shuli, said ISPs should not be forced to monitor network traffic for copyright material. He said the onus is on enforcers of copyright, such as AFACT, to police infringements of intellectual property.
AFACT executive director Adrianne Pecotic said in a written statement iiNet has a legal obligation to stop copyright infringement on its network.
“iiNet has an obligation under the law to take steps to prevent further known copyright infringement via its network,” Pecotic said.
“iiNet refused to address this illegal behaviour and did nothing to prevent the continuation of the infringements by the same customers.”
The group claimed the federal court case may take up to a year to resolve.
Copyright enforcement has gained massive publicity following high profile lawsuits against file sharing organisations and Web sites, spearheaded by the likes of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
Peter Sunde, co-founder of torrent hosting site The Pirate Bay, told Computerworld US creative commons licensing is more appropriate for the Internet than traditional copyright laws.
“I do see things that can work in a copyright, but for commercial aspects. It's very important to not infringe on personal life due to copyright. Creative Commons and other licenses are a better way than today's copyright laws, however, I do feel that Creative Commons is not reaching far enough,” Sunde said.
“The media industry is fighting, lobbying and bribing their way through the system, which is a really bad thing, both for us and them. In the end, it will show that they are only in this for money and nothing else.”
Co-founder of once notorious pirate release group DrinkOrDie, Hew Griffiths, was the first Australian to be extradited under US copyright law. Griffiths, aka 'Bandido', was charged with copyright infringement in 2003 and served almost four years in jail.
File-sharing Web site Torrentfreak claimed that 19 percent of Windows desktops run either the official BitTorrent client or µTorrent application.