Aussie ISP beats Hollywood on 'copyright' rap
Providing net access not same as OK-ing copyright theft
The Australian Federal Court has found an Aussie ISP not responsible for copyright offences committed by its customers.
The Australian Federation against Copyright Theft claimed that iiNet authorised copyright theft by its customers.
Judge J Cowdroy accepted that iiNet users had used BitTorrent to infringe copyright, but that the number was far less than alleged by AFCT and that iiNet in no way authorised the infringements.
The judge found that providing the means to infringement, internet access, was not the same as authorising infringement - BitTorrent was.
In summary the judge said:
the key question is: Did iiNet authorise copyright infringement? The Court answers such question in the negative for three reasons: first because the copyright infringements occurred directly as a result of the use of the BitTorrent system, not the use of the internet, and the respondent did not create and does not control the BitTorrent system; second because the respondent did not have a relevant power to prevent those infringements occurring; and third because the respondent did not sanction, approve or countenance copyright infringement.
Judge Cowdroy said the case had attracted worldwide attention - "So much so that I understand this is the first Australian trial to be twittered or tweeted." He said he'd approved this because of the public interest and because it seemed fitting for a copyright trial involving the internet.
iiNet welcomed the judgment and said it remained "a good corporate citizen and even better copyright citizen".
The case was brought by all the major Hollywood studios. The judge accepted there was widespread copying of their films, not just in Australia but worldwide, but the studios feeling that "something must be done" was not enough to find iiNet guilty.
iiNet customers were also accused of creating physical DVD copies of Hollywood films - but the court found that the only people who definitely did this were AFCT investigators.
The full judgement, all 200 pages of it, and, mercifully, a summary, is available here. ®
Are you reading this, Mandlescum?
"The numbers were not as high as AFACT alleged and that iiNet in no way authorised the infringement"
Did you see that Mandlescum? DID YOU? Copyright holders lie about the levels of infringement going on, and ISP's AREN'T responsible for it! Please, go read something, anything, by Michael Geist (I think that's spelt right) before you trash one of the net's most important principles for the benefit of your yacht owning, profit margin protecting, genuine music destroying old boys network chums
/rant before I damage something!
Thumbs up to our Aussie cousins for protecting correct legal principles, rather than the interests of big business
Not so fast....
I have quickly scanned through the judgement this afternoon (outback time) and I intend to analyze it in greater detail later, but two startling facts emerge from even a cursory look at the court's decision:
1. The applicants i.e. virtually every major "content provider" in the country and most of the rest of the world, appear to have an almost zero understanding of the technology which drives the internet
2. Despite having some of the best paid lawyers in the country, they seem to have not the foggiest clue about laws governing "intellectual property rights", privacy and technology.
Their case, as presented to the court is so odd - in some parts almost bizarre - that I am lead to suspect some deeper, darker motive for the whole affair. They cannot possibly be this stupid.
I don't usually subscribe to conspiracy theories but I have an uneasy feeling that these jerks deliberately set out to lose in court so that they can then badger the nincompoops, who currently pretend to govern this country, into passing draconian anti-piracy legislation on their behalf. In fact their representatives have already made noises in this direction - less than an hour after the judgement was made public.
I pray that I'm wrong, but with this bunch of unscrupulous rip-off artists and a pack of brain-dead politicians getting together, (including everybody's favorite Pommy reject Herr Conroy), anything is possible.
Hoist, petard, own?
"iiNet customers were also accused of creating physical DVD copies of Hollywood films - but the court found that the only people who definitely did this were AFCT investigators"
Better get them into court quickly then, the studios don't like people who make copies of their films.
At last a country that takes the view that there are already perfectly good laws for policing copyright theft, and are making the studios use them, rather than going down the stupid 'three strikes' system, which requires no court-standard proof, or indeed a civil case, for people to be 'found guilty' and have their internet access restricted or terminated.
How exactly do you appeal a decision that has been made under this system? No court case to appeal. No court-standard evidence to test. And we all know how good ISPs are at keeping accurate IP address allocation records. I think what scares me most about this stupid, stupid system is lack of accountability that appears to be build in to it.