Wikileaked cable: AFACT was MPAA’s cat’s-paw
Pope turns out to be Catholic
A second cable discussing the “world+dog vs. iiNet” court case has emerged on Wikileaks, confirming the widespread suspicion in Australia that Hollywood was behind both the action and the choice of target.
Running just slightly ahead of the last one, this cable was actually classified (“Confidential”, the lowest tier in US secrecy classifications); and of interest is its confirmation that the “prime mover” in the case was the Motion Picture Association of America.
The cable, attributed to US ambassador to Australia at the time Robert McCallum, states that “despite the lead role of AFACT … this is an MPAA / American studios production.”
However, the MPAA and its international operation (the Motion Picture Association, dropping the second “A” into the discard pile) lacked any Australian presence, so AFACT filed the case as “MPAA’s Australian subcontractor”. The cable reports that the MPAA also wanted to avoid any perception that this action was just “Hollywood ‘bullying some poor little Australian ISP’.”
A scan of headlines from the time shows how unsuccessful this exercise in perception management turned out to be: Australian news outlets have identified AFACT as acting on behalf of Hollywood since 2009.
Moreover, the cable confirms what iiNet and others have long suspected: Hollywood’s choice of target reflected iiNet’s Goldilocks status. iiNet was just right: Telstra is large, loud, litigious, and possessed of significant lobbying experience; too small a target, and the case risked inviting the “bullying” perception that the MPAA was keen to avoid.
And why Australia? The cable cites Mike Ellis, president of the MPA’s Asia Pacific operation, as saying that the case would be “closely followed” in other Commonwealth countries – in effect, the MPA and MPAA was hoping that a precedent in Australia would serve as a lever to use on other Commonwealth countries.
“We will watch this case as it unfolds”, the cable says, “for its IPR implications and also to see whether or not the ‘AFACT vs. the local ISP’ featured attraction spawns a ‘giant American bullies vs. little Aussie battlers’ sequel.” ®
re: Pirates are going to continue to be prosecuted
Except that they weren't/aren't in this case.
The ISP is being prosecuted because although piracy might be illegal, the studios can't be bothered going after the ones doing wrong in the law courts.
Effectively they want to bypass the legal process by making the carrier responsible, so that the carrier will bypass the legal process by cutting off users without going to court.
Pirates might be bad, but I lose all sympathy when corporations try to bypass the correct legal process. In fact, I do more than lose sympathy, I become actively antagonistic to said corporations.
Personally, I still have problems with the idea of IP infringement being criminal. Criminality should be reserved for things which are intrinsically wrong - murder, theft etc. Perhaps if the studios hadn't pushed to make the infringement a criminal rather than civil issue, the burden of proof and the cost of prosecuting would be less.
The problem being is that AFACT and MPAA calls you a pirate and demands punishment (Disconnection from the internet etc) before a court actually finds you guilty.
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What's US law got to do with Australia?