Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Privacy

Aussie ISP Scans Downloads For Copyright Violation 423

Posted by Hemos
from the your-data-is-not-safe dept.
Steve Nakhla writes: "According to this article, Excite@Home has begun snooping users' downloads in order to find copyrighted or pirated material. Violators have their access cut off. As an Excite@home user, this alarms me. What exactly is their definition of copyrighted? Doesn't the New York Times copyright their online articles? Can I not view them any more for fear of violating Excite's policies?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Aussie ISP Scans Downloads For Copyright Violation

Comments Filter:
  • by exi7 (315026) on Thursday August 23, 2001 @02:37PM (#2209924)
    Therefore, by reading it, you will be arrested. Expect your service to be terminated any second now.



    (c) exi7, 2001. All rights reserved.

  • by SpanishInquisition (127269) on Thursday August 23, 2001 @02:38PM (#2209929) Homepage Journal
    to watch the porn we download.

    I want one of these jobs.

    • If they intercept the images that a person downloads from a pay service - or the text articles or whathaveyou, does that mean they are illegally accessing that service?

      I mean if I pay good money to access a porn^H^H^H^H^H pay news service and receive the benefit of that service, how can they legallly be allowed to (presumably) gain the same benefit from that service without paying for it?

      Why, that ought to be illegal...

  • by Alcimedes (398213)
    i have a quick question. would something like pgp work to stop this snooping garbage? just have the data encrypted when you send it to people, and then no one can snoop, right?



    it would be a bit of a pain, but nothing too bad. ftp servers would just contain the key when you log in, and irc people could just have the key displayed every min. or so.



    nosy bastards oughtta leave me and my data alone!

    • Yeah...right. All you have to do is convince everyone to start encrypting the data.

      With the way PGP and IPSec have caught on like wildfire I imagine that'll happen any day now.
    • by Greyfox (87712)
      Build a big VPN that routes to the internet from several points and route all your traffic through it. As far as your ISP is concerned, you only ever connect to one place and transmit encrypted data.


      Sure it's a massive problem. You need to find people willing to create a cloud with you. There have to be exit points in the cloud where people with less snoopy providers route packets in and out. The larger the cloud, the more difficult it would be to eradicate it through legal means. You could have services entirely inside the cloud that could not be reached from outside it.


      I've been going on about building one of these for ages, but haven't seen much response here and haven't found many people willing to set one up. The backbone of the cloud needs to have high speed connections, and going through it WILL be slower than a direct connect. Having to trust the people running the cloud is another issue. Ideally the PGP "Web of Trust" would apply.

    • "i have a quick question. would something like pgp work to stop this snooping garbage? just have the data encrypted when you send it to people, and then no one can snoop, right?"

      Yes, it would. But are there any FTP sites, etc, who transmit/receive in PGP? I doubt it. On the bright side, this sort of crap is JUST the thing to incentivise the OSS/FS community to come up with such a thing.

      The harder the IP cartel swings the hammer, the thicker people will armor themselves.
  • Isn't this company in financial trouble? That sounds like a great way to make more money! Spend it on extra employment while cutting your customer base at the same time!
  • by KosovoYankee (310988) on Thursday August 23, 2001 @02:40PM (#2209949) Homepage
    If Ma Bell was listening to my phone calls to see if I was committing a crime, I would simply get 2 cans and an extremely long string. There is no way this can be defended ethically: Because they provide you with a service, as a corporation, they can legally observe and log every detail of enery task you use the service to complete? While a nation's highways may belong to the federal government, they still need probable cause to stop you and "observe" what you have under the seat of your car, or in the trunk. This complete circumvention of probably cause is ludicrous. As stated above: Imagine if the phone company did this!
    • First off - we're talking about Australia - they have a different take on things down there, and what may be legal here might not be there (and vice-versa.)

      If I recall correctly, the 1996 Telecommunications Act made ISP's the equivalent of common-carriers, and they are exempt from worrying about content issues. The DMCA modified that to the extent that you can be tried and convicted by the ISP by them merely receiving a letter claiming you've done something wrong. The DMCA requires that they take action upon receipt of a letter. So - the ISP can only be held liable if they don't take action.

      My solution is to send all the lawyers in the land to this little island off the coast of Africa where there are no scheduled boats or planes. This in and of it self should take care of congress since it's mostly lawyers. Think of what a wonderful world it could be! ;-)
      • by Anonymous Coward

        First off - we're talking about Australia - they have a different take on things down there, and what may be legal here might not be there (and vice-versa.)

        Well, sure. Australia was founded as a penal colony. Everyone is descended from criminals. Everybody knows that. That's why their judicial system is founded on the perfectly valid notion of "guilty until proven innocent." As upside-down as it may seem (like everything else about that antipodal garden of strange), in Australia the police actually have to get a warrant if they're not going to search your private effects.

        Anonymous cowards are currently offering seminars to assist the humor-impaired.

    • Because they provide you with a service, as a corporation, they can legally observe and log every detail of enery task you use the service to complete?

      Forgive my ignorance on this matter, but don't ISP's ALREADY log every task you complete? I could be wrong, but I would think they have records of what websites and newsgroups and such you've been to. This info is probably supposed to be kept private, but who knows nowadays.
      Either way, it's just short hop from logging all your internet activity to MONITORING all your internet activity. It just surprises me, that of all the crimes they could go after, copyright infringement is the one they chose.
      Looking at my past posts you'll see that I'm actually in defense of copyright more so that most slashdotters, but if they HAVE to violate our privacy, can't they do it to keep tabs on who downloads instructions for making nuclear bombs or who sends porn spam to potentially underage kids or something? Next to the wealth of dangerous and or illegal content on the web, copyright seems kinda harmless.

      • Forgive my ignorance on this matter, but don't ISP's ALREADY log every task you complete? I could be wrong, but I would think they have records of what websites and newsgroups and such you've been to.

        Speaking as an employee of one of the top five largest ISPs in the world, I can say there is no way we could do that. Do you have any idea the hardware and disk space it would require to log everything our users do?

        Not to mention that we don't care. It isn't any of our business unless you're breaking the law or violating our AUP (eg, spamming, etc), in which case we find out about it when we get complaints.

      • "if they HAVE to violate our privacy, can't they do it to keep tabs on who downloads instructions for making nuclear bombs"


        In the UK, they do exactly that [networkmagazine.com]: Under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (RIP) Act, every ISP or even operator of a private network (like a corporate LAN or a cybercafe) has to help the police by scanning their traffic for potential terrorist content. If they don't, it's five years in the slammer.


        South Carolina has a similar [informationweek.com] law regarding child pornography.


        Of course, if you're opposed to these laws, you must be a terrorist or a child molestor...

    • At first it looks like it may be an illegal wiretap. This is covered by the Telecommunications (Interception) Act 1989 (Cth) [austlii.edu.au]. The difficulty lies in the interpretation of "Interception" in section 6 [austlii.edu.au] of that Act


      Don't worry too much about subsection 2, none of those provisions apply even though it looks like they might. Subsection 1 is the problem, because it defines interception as "listening to or recording". Since the software downloads are not audio content, they're not "listening to" it, and it seems unlikely they're recording it. There's no reason to expect a court to decide that a checksum, CRC or other hash would constitute "recording", since "recording" implies substantially duplicating the content rather than merely identifying the content probabilistically.

      It is unlikely that a court would hold that anything other than the reproduction of the content itself would constitute "recording".


      IANALY,TINLA

    • Imagine if the phone company did this!

      Virtually no one today will understand that argument. Everyone of every age "gets" the phone. Internet connectivity is too new. In a generation or two, people will "get" it, but it will be too late. They'll probably be conditioned by then, narcing on each other for trading compressed music files, and expecting every byte they move to be monitored. Hell, they'll probably demand it for their own "safety."
    • When I worked for an ISP doing Email admin, I had an interaction with the security person at an Australian ISP (this was a couple of years ago -- before their censorship act). He said that Australia had some pretty strong privacy legislation that prevented them from tracking what people were doing with their connection --
      This included the purpose of my call, which was the tracking and killing of a SPAM source.



      His comment was that this (accidental) protection of spammers made Australia a haven for spammers. My thought is that, if they can't nail spammers for spamming -- even with complaints -- they should not be able to do any sort of 'big brother' monitoring either.

  • Not all of @Home (Score:3, Informative)

    by alanjstr (131045) on Thursday August 23, 2001 @02:41PM (#2209955) Homepage
    The article says that this is Optus@Home, in Australia.
    • You're partially right.

      http://www.excitehome.excite.com.au/about.html [excite.com.au]:

      • Excite@Home Australia was formed in June 1999 through the joint venture of leading US broadband service provider, At Home Corporation and Australian integrated communications company, Cable & Wireless Optus.


      • Working closely with Cable & Wireless Optus, Excite@Home Australia delivers Optus@Home, the high-speed cable Internet service.



      I'm still scared though... certainly the main Excite@Home company had to agree to do this sort of thing. Which means that they're perfectly willing to do it, depending on the legal climate.
  • by NitsujTPU (19263)
    What ever happened to the rights of the people coming before the rights of companies? Has government become so weak that they cannot protect a company from being crushed by another because of those who use its services? Have companies become so much more powerful than the gorvernment that the word of the the people cannot be heard? Have the minds of the masses been so poisoned with anti-government claptrap that they cannot see that the government can set them free rather than imprison them?
    • More Below (Score:2, Funny)

      by NitsujTPU (19263)
      Oh yeah, and how can I capitalize on this?
  • Seems like they should have more important things [slashdot.org] to worry about that implementing stupid crap like this.

    There is no way for them to tell if said copyrighted thing is actually allowed or not, such as the example of copyrighted documents, etc. Just cause it's copyrighted, doesn't mean you can't download it.
  • This post is copyrighted by the_other_one.

    You must purchase the right to read my posts or be cut off by your ISP.

    My current rate is $200.00 CDN per character. Please email me the cash prior to reading.

  • by canning (228134) on Thursday August 23, 2001 @02:43PM (#2209969) Homepage
    Why don't the Aussie's just give the guilty parties the boot? I saw it on T.V. once, it seemed to work.

  • They're doing this to merely keep themselves clear of copyright infringement lawsuits.

    That's all fine and good, but the way they go around doing it is wrong. From the article:

    The users added that if an individual is breaking the law on the Internet, it should be treated in a similar way to somebody abusing the telephone system.

    "The police should have to apply for a warrant and then present that to the telco to authorise monitoring for a specific person for a specific period," the reader said.


    The people are getting upset with the ISP. Their ire should be directed at the real source of the problem: the copyright industry. It's gotten so bad that even ISP's are driven to the point of paranoia about copyrgiht infringement.

    My question: Is it all worth it?
  • *FWOOSH* (Score:5, Funny)

    by Psarchasm (6377) on Thursday August 23, 2001 @02:44PM (#2209977) Homepage Journal
    Hear that? Thats the sound of a giant toilet flushing your privacy down the drain (counter-clockwise).
  • This scares me (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jimmcq (88033)

    I've never been one to feel paranoid, but this kind of stuff creeps me out!

    They can monitor my computer use at work... and now they are monitoring my computer use when I'm at home.

    This just sounds like another case of innocent until proven guilty... Not even the government can monitor this kind of stuff without the proper warrent, but this corporation can. When exactly did the big corporations get more powerful than the government??!?

    What ever happened to the right to privacy? How have we let things get to this point?
  • All newspapers copyright their content. However if they have it on their web site you can assume that you can view it. After all if they didn't want you to view it they wouldn't put it online. You can even save a copy for later. And you probably can email it to a friend. In fact many papers have an "email this to a friend" icon. About the only time you could have problem is if you put it on your own web site. In that case you should ask, or post a link.
  • If there are any lawyers in reading, we need a magic document that has the following two properties:

    1) It is an illegal copy of a copyrighted work

    2) Reading the document violates lawyer-client privelege, doctor-patient privelege, or the DMCA, preferably all three.

    For instance, the document has a copyrighted non-illegal trailer and the entire document is zipped using the password "password". By detecting the copyrighted payload, we can sue them for accessing the non-illegal trailer which was protected by the "PkZip" anti-circumvention device.

    If we can find this piece of data and get an Excite@HOME user terminated for downloading it, we can prosecute Excite for reading it, preferably under the DMCA.

    Suggestions?
  • "I wouldn't call it policing, we're just trying to comply with the law and by highlighting the issue to customers, its putting us in a better position as acting as a responsible Netizen on the Internet," the spokesperson said.

    Did anyone else read this and see the word Nazi-an? "Comply with the law! Schnell! "

    - JoeShmoe
  • First of all, this is Australia, which has, if it can be believed, even more draconian IT-related laws than the US.

    Second of all, WHOMEVER@HOME is going to be out of business in about a week, so no worries, right? :-)
  • woah, WOAH!! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Telek (410366) on Thursday August 23, 2001 @02:48PM (#2210028) Homepage
    Isn't this a MAJOR invasion of privacy? I can't remember exactly, but I seem to remember that ISPs were told they were NOT allowed to do that to modem users, as it violates several privacy issues. You're required to get a warrant prior to initiating any snooping whatsoever. Just like the Telephone, they can't do that!

    And besides, HOW do you tell what's pirated and what's not, from random streams of data? If I download 2 movies at a time, it's going to seem like garbage (a raw stream that is). And HOW do they know that it's pirated? How can they distinguish a pirated movie from a non pirated one? Similarly with data or music, how can you tell? What are they going to do, scan for patterns that might match? Get someone to watch all movie streams and listen to all audio streams? Think about how hard it would be to figure that out. Or are they just going to scan what SITES you visit, and then ASSUME you're pirating? This is crazy!
    • Re:woah, WOAH!! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Angst Badger (8636) on Thursday August 23, 2001 @04:08PM (#2210617)
      Isn't this a MAJOR invasion of privacy? I can't remember exactly, but I seem to remember that ISPs were told they were NOT allowed to do that to modem users, as it violates several privacy issues. You're required to get a warrant prior to initiating any snooping whatsoever.

      Yes, it's an invasion of privacy, but the question is whether it is an illegal invasion of privacy. If it was a government agency doing it, then yes, they'd need a warrant. For a private company to monitor what its customers are doing with company equipment is another matter altogether, and in many cases may be perfectly legal.

      In some states, for example, you can legally record (your own) telephone calls without informing the party at the other end. Tennessee is one of those states. Maryland -- as Linda Tripp learned to her dismay -- is not.

      Please bear in mind that there are extraordinary restraints on the actions of government agencies because they have extraordinary powers. Private citizens and private companies are under much lesser restraints. Moreover, analogies between telcos and ISPs (or between the telco branch of Big Fnarking Company and its ISP branch) are flawed because there are very specific laws governing common carriers, which telcos are, and few laws governing ISPs which are not, I repeat not, common carriers.

      I'm not saying this is the way it should be, but in the absence of laws to the contrary, that's just how it is. Considering that ISPs can and have been held responsible for the actions of their customers in some instances, management may feel like they have to cover their butts by snooping. Of course, they may also just be tired of losing money on MP3-and-warez-sucking bandwidth hogs.

      • Fortunately, in the United States of America, such a practice is unlawful under US Code Title 18, Section 2511: http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/18/2511.html [cornell.edu]

        I believe this came about with the Communications Act of 1986, probably one of the best acts of privacy protection in the modern era.

        My condolences to the Australians, who have no such protections.

      • Yes, it's an invasion of privacy, but the question is whether it is an illegal invasion of privacy. If it was a government agency doing it, then yes, they'd need a warrant. For a private company to monitor what its customers are doing with company equipment is another matter altogether, and in many cases may be perfectly legal.


        In most situations where the government would have to get a warrant to intercept telecommunications, so would the telecommunications carrier (ISPs are legally telecommunications carriers in Australia). The exemptions for the carrier relate to interception in the normal course of operating the equipment and detecting crimes against the operation of the equipment itself.

      • Good call.

        However I also seem to remeber that ISPs are not responsible for what their members are transmitting, provided that they take all reasonable steps to prohibit unauthorized usage and remove any such usage once informed of it.

        I also don't think that they should be responsible for it. They're just the medium. This is like suing tobacco companies or gun manufacturers... It's The American Way (tm). If you can't beat 'em, sue!! Don't get me started on that one =)...

    • Very simple. They would not. You will be the one to prove you did nothing wrong. As it was shown in the DMCA case, current society is OK with passing a law that allows to prosecute a person because Copyright Mafia wants so. And there are real stories of people with their internet access terminated because RIAA sent the ISP a letter that stated that their IP was noted in trafficking "illegal" content. No questions asked, no person contacted, just immediate access cutoff. If you want to have your internet access alive, you would be the one to sweat and get all the proofs that your content is legal. Internet is a nice place, full of freedom and new possibilities, isn't it?

      Alternatively, you can just terminate your relationship with that ISP. If there is any other ISPs that are yet sane, of course. And if they won't be sued out of existance by the RIAA.
  • What's the status of privacy protection in Australia? In the U.S., at least, a telco can't drop "we can listen in on your conversations at any time to see if you're using the lines to illegally play your grandson exchange tapes of Johnny Carson" into a AUP, and then get away with "occasionally sampling" communications. Violation of the Electronic Communications and Privacy Act of 1990, among other things -- and clearly criminal.

    Does Australia have similar protections? Is this a bunch of arrogant sysadmins thinking they own anything on their machines? I'd love if this were a case where someone like the EFF could go after Excite@home with guns blazing...

  • "Doesn't the New York Times copyright their online articles? Can I not view them any more for fear of violating Excite's policies?"

    In Denmark, whatever you produce (texts, images, lyrics) is automatically your copyright. You don't buy it, or have to specifically declare it copyrighted. Isn't it like this in the States?
    • In Denmark, whatever you produce (texts, images, lyrics) is automatically your copyright. You don't buy it, or have to specifically declare it copyrighted. Isn't it like this in the States?

      Yes, it is. But if you ever go to court to defend it, things become so much easier if you have registered it with the copyright office - that establishes exactly what you created and attaches a date to it.

      Another thing I have heard about is mailing it to yourself, and not opening the package. This passes it through a government agency (the USPS) and gives it an official date (the postmark). This would probably be better than nothing, but I wouldn't trust it like I would trust an official registration with the copyright office.

      So while I theoretically own the copyright on everything I create the moment I create it, proving the what and the when is tricky without a registration.

      This is all in the US of course.
    • Yes, it's automatic via authorship in the USA, although I believe it formerly was not. I think the poster may be confusing the "copyright notice" (which is commonly placed on copyrighted material to clarify that it's being distributed subject to the author's copyright, rather than being released into the public domain) with the copyright itself. There is an additional USA procedure called "registration," which you need to do in order to bring a lawsuit on your copyright, and also registration is helpful in the dispute itself (e.g., it places a time stamp on your claim of authorship.) But the copyright itself exists even if you never register. There is one exception called the "work for hire" rule. If you author something as part of your employment duties for your employer (like software if you're a programmer) then the copyright automatically goes to your employer, unless you make special contractual arrangements. But if you write a song in spare time, that's still your copyright, because it's not what the company hired you to do.

      Additional disclaimer - IAAL, but not a copyright specialist.
      • But if you write a song in spare time, that's still your copyright, because it's not what the company hired you to do.

        Not really. My father in law worked as a citizen for a major defense contractor most of his life. He developed and copyrighted a board game, of which a particular idea within the game became extremely valuable. He claims he was at one time offered hundreds of thousands of dollars for it, but that's beside the point.

        He went to renew the copyright and was unable to do so. His employer had found out about it and had filed some sort of claim against it, since he was employed with them at the time it was created. He tried to sue but under the terms of his employment was forced into binding arbitration. While the company dragged the arbitration out, the copyright expired, at which point it became completely useless to him.

        It should be noted that as a boiler operator, a board game had nothing whatsoever to do with his employment.

        This is the side of the story WE heard, so take it with a grain of salt, but I did in fact read his employment contract which stated that any ideas he came up with while employed by the company belonged to the company. It didn't matter what it was regarding. OTOH, my employment contract with a private employer is exactly what you'd expect it to be: Items developed on company time or using company ideas or information belong to the company. Otherwise, I'm free to do whatever I want in my spare time, although if I developed a better method for producing my company's products and copyrighted it for myself I'd probably be sued and fired.

        It all depends on who you work for.
    • Yes, any work you create is automatically copywrited unless you specifically put it in the public domain.
      http://www.loc.gov/copyright/circs/circ1.html [loc.gov] has more details.

      IANAL, but i do play one on /.
    • According to the article Fingered by the Movie Cops [salon.com] on Salon, in the US Excite is not actively scanning content, but is reacting to complaints by third parties, as they are required to do under the DMCA. In other contries other rules apply, usually with much less protection of speech than here in the US. One of the things that worries me is that under current international law - the Berne Convention [cornell.edu] - eveything created is implicitly copyrighted. No need for the circle-c or "Copyright yyyy" incantations (these provide some additional notice of copyright, but aren't needed for protection like they were in the past). So restrictions of posting of copyrighted material can apply to everything, bringing discussion to a halt. Since the US claims to be in line with Berne, there is also the concept of "fair use", but various court interpretations have made this a very muddy field indeed. Replying to a post and quoting it is considered universally OK, but there are limits to the size of quotes for review or commentary (posting someone's entire book to merely say that you agree with it would still be unacceptable). If everyone in your office went to a library to copy a magazine article for their own use that is probably OK. If you make several copies to distribute to them (exact same effect) it is not ok. The DMCA seems to change all of this, and is being used extraterritorially as well. The prior restraint requirement is extremely troubling.
  • since excite/at-home is nearly bankrupt, shouldn't they be putting their time to better use? like selling off some of their overbuilt infrastructure or learning to market their stuff so that they stay afloat longer?

    spying on people doesn't revenue bring. then again, it seems with this kind of behavior, they deserve to go [down] under.


  • ...than my six-year-old daughter's school district. They came home from their first day of school yesterday with an "Internet Agreement". In part, it states that "students are prohibited from downloading any copyrighted material."


    • Well, considering that everything a person writes, unless explicity stated as being public domain, is protected with a default copyright, she basically can't use the interent...
  • by Tin Weasil (246885) on Thursday August 23, 2001 @02:50PM (#2210047) Homepage Journal
    If they were really penalizing people for downloading all copyrighted materials, then you would get yanked for downloading GPL'd software, since it is, in fact, copyrighted.

    Hey! Take a look at the bottom right corner of your page when you load slashdot! There is an OSDN copyright!

    Really, I don't think any aussies who is doing anything legitimate (reading the NYTimes for example) has anything to worry about here.

    I support any ISP for yanking connectivity of anyone for any reason. It's the ISPs right. Maybe they don't like you because you don't take baths (sorry RMS).

    What is disturbing is that the ISP in question is actively monitoring it's user's online transactions and actions. That, in my OP is a violation of privacy.
  • Historically, US companies would have considered this an awful idea. US ISPs have often taken the line that they are simply access providers, and should not be expected to inspect everything that goes across their networks. This is what's usually referred to as "common carrier" status, and it's what prevents people from suing the Post Office for delivering a porn magazine to a child. (Note - IANAL, but I don't think the companies have been particularly successful in claiming common carrier status.)

    The problem is that the second you start spot-checking clients data, you have essentially abandoned your status as a common carrier. In for a penny, in for a pound, as the saying goes: once you start checking, you're obligated to check just about everything to make sure it complies to the law.

    This is in Australia, where I'm sure the law is quite different. But now that so many access providers are tied to media production companies, how long will it be until ISPs in the US start pulling the same kind of tricks?

  • Where I live, residential customers and businesses have two options for cable modem service, which is fabulous for a town of 20,000. The first option is provided by the city public utilities dept., which has run fiber rings throughout the town, and then coax to the curb. The city then contracts with local isps for residential service. The other option is the local cable company, which has contracted with @home to provide service. Each costs about $25 a month, although the bandwidth is with the city service, not surprisingly (I can look out my window and see the fiber node nearby).

    The biggest difference is less obvious: people I know who are using the @home get constant scans (not just one or two ports, either) from IP addresses which resolve themselves to something like portscan022.foo.home.com (obfuscated to avoid implicating the cable company, which I believe to be innocent to this activity). When I look at my logs, what do I get? A chron job from the city DHCP server polling every five minutes on port 68. And a bunch of port 80 requests from who knows where :)

    What don't I get? Why on earth @home seems to think it's ok to portscan its customers like they do. The article seems indicative of just how paternalistic they are: "We are the arbitraters of what you can and can't download. If you are running open ports, we need to know why. What? You don't like it? Read the (revised) terms of service, dodo." I consider myself lucky to have the option of broadband without @home as a provider. It's apparent that most people don't have that choice. We all know what happens when a monopoly goes unchecked.
  • This is like mall security confiscating your car for shoplifting so you can't get to their mall anymore. When people are more and more expected to have internet access for various stuff that's possibly work related or of real-life importance, getting your Internet access cut off is a death sentence. This system needs some accountability for wrongful service termination fast.
  • So you no longer need a consent of one of the parties or a court order to intercept communication? Thats interesting news.
  • by akb (39826)
    Now would be a good time to start using and donating to Freenet [freenetproject.org] which provides anonymous communication and is immune to censorship.
  • Excite@Home is bankrupt, 1 billion in the hole, shares around 50 cents a throw, and a headache from hell.


    If they can -afford- to hire someone to read through the scans, they'd be lucky. If they can then afford any lawyer fees in suing anyone, tell the directors to stop borrowing off their moms.

  • The ISP informed users of its Optus@Home broadband service that it would terminate customer accounts found to be downloading pirate software or copyright material.

    "What....right have Optus got to play policeman? They are a conduit-a provider, that's all," one ZDNet Australia reader said. The users added that if an individual is breaking the law on the Internet, it should be treated in a similar way to somebody abusing the telephone system. "The police should have to apply for a warrant and then present that to the telco to authorise monitoring for a specific person for a specific period," the reader said.

    "I wouldn't call it policing, we're just trying to comply with the law and by highlighting the issue to customers, its putting us in a better position as acting as a responsible Netizen on the Internet," the spokesperson said.

    They are both right *and* wrong. It *is* their system after all, so they have a right to determine access rules. On the other hand, just because something is *copyrighted* does not mean it is therefore *pirated*. They are wrong in thinking that they can have it both ways: as a conduit and as a 'law-complyer, not a policeman', as the spokesperson rather torturously puts it. A conduit, by definition, has *no* rules regarding content. The fact that they feel entitled to "[try] to comply with the law and ... [act] as a responsible Netizen" (as if a corporation were a person -- which it IS NOT), puts them squarely in the camp of being an editor of content, and, thus, no longer an actual conduit. I believe that, due to that, under Australian law, they now come under a different category of legislation. Any exemption that they received for being merely a conduit should now be re-examined in the light of their decision to become a "traffic" cop.

    I agree with the reader: if Excite@Home suspects that there is a copyright violation, they need to *go through the proper channels* -- not arrogate the law unto themselves. A corporation -- being comprised of unelected people, and, thus, being neither democratic nor representative -- is *not* the government, and shouldn't think of itself in that manner.

  • by dkh2 (29130) <.moc.hctIstiTyMoDyhW. .ta. .2hkd.> on Thursday August 23, 2001 @03:23PM (#2210326) Homepage
    If it's been produced anytime since 1923 - somebody holds copyright on it.

    The real issue that nobody is talking about is licensing. Yes, the New York Times and/or the original author holds copyright on all of that stuff. However, under the conditions for access to the NYT website they have granted you license to access that material online. They have not granted you license to download (read this as "save") and redistribute any of their IP.

    It seems the real problem for Aussie ISPs is to identify the original source for anything served through them and to go after the account owners who allegedly violate copyright law.

  • The connection providers are increasingly the same company who create the content that's being pirated. You expect they should stand by doing nothing when they can take action?

    In the old days of a few years ago, the internet was still a largely lawless frontier. Now that it's gone mainstream, some of that frontier conduct isn't going to work anymore.

    Laws must be fitted to the society/culture they are intendted to govern. The internet needs to be a legal jurisdiction if the several hundred million people who use it regularly are to get along, conduct commerce, communicate, etc.

    It's no longer the time to flaunt the existing laws by circumventing them with clever hacks. It is now the time to reform the law so that it works for the people.
  • ...I checked my browser settings.
    Though I live in germany and have nothing to fear I have to got through my settings:
    - Yes, I connect through a proxy, so the IP address is unuseable for the MPAA
    - Yes, junkbuster is active and sending only the information I want to send
    - Yes, the rest is filtered by my firewall
    Best thing, really, that it will be very difficult to track my IP address. All tests state that my IP address is either 127.0.0.1 (haha) or the address of the proxy of my provider.
    Maybe you should check imedeately if you ISP offers the same service to you...
  • If Excite@Home Australia is going to randomly snoop on downloads for copyright-infringing downloads, on the reason that they're trying to comply with the law, can I then assume they're also occasionally snooping to determine if someone is downloading or uploading child pornography to/from IP addresses they control?

    If not, why does Excite claim it can take responsibility for actively halting one illegal activity while allowing another to continue? Or does Excite Australia decide to take action based on "pressure"?
  • and then they put pressure on ISP's to have the user cut off if the material isn't removed. This service is offered to the recording industry. Copyright.net browses the file sharing tools to harvest IP's, and report to ISP's. and I 'think' that DCMA forces ISP's to respond and take action. They're grabbing data from your hard drive to verify that it's copyrighted.

    Having the ISP tap your line to snoop packets when you share your music collection on port 6346 seems silly.

  • They are going to look for and suspend the accounts of users who download "pirate software or copyright material."

    Dude, all software under the GPL is copyrighted! As such, it sounds like Excite@Home is gonna start suspending your accounts if you download it. (Yeah, I know, not really, but these people have *got* to be more carefUl about how they state things. Copyrighted does not equal "illegal to copy". It depends on the license (never mind things like fair use).)

    Does anybody know *how* they're going to decide if a given download is verboten? What are their algorithms?

    The world has gotten out of hand.

    -Rob

  • WHY are they wasting money doing this? Also, this kind of activity SCREAMS security hole, ripe for abuse.

    Not good. And this getting out among the enthusiast, who are the EXACT people to buy broadband, can't help their chances of avoiding File 13.
    • They are in trouble in the US not in australia - in australia they belong to Optus@Home - Cable and Wireless Optus - the second largest carrier in the region who are owned by singtel - one of the regions biggest telcos - they have plenty of money and a massive userbase - they are the only reliable cable service - i use them and get speeds approaching 6mb/sec - so please i ask you check facts before posting.

      Amreican companies are not the only ones in the world - our economy is not in the toilet - the US's is.
  • I'd be seriously referring this case to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) because this represents a violation of my privacy. Your own ISP is collecting information about your internet access without your prior knowledge or permission (granted the more technically adept have already guessed it by now by looking at their access logs, but I'm also talking about the people who don't know). Yes, I know that other services have doing the same thing for years but it is easier to prevent an external company, that exercises no influence over your ISP (eg. Gator), from collecting personal information without permission.

    Now IANAL, but unfortunately there is no specific legal protection for this kind of activity (at least not in NSW) under the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 (NSW) [austlii.edu.au], as the principles in the Act that must be applied in the collection and use of personal information (see Section 10 [austlii.edu.au]) only apply to the public sector and are still subject to exemptions.

    Your best bet would be the Privacy Amendment (Private Sector) Act 2000 [law.gov.au] (which amends the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth)), as this adds conditions under which the private sector can collect personal information. It's also a Commonwealth Law, so that the Act can be applied to cases all over the country (although in most cases, the courts tend to follow the lead of NSW). One big caveat of this amendment is that this still could possibly allow Excite@home to collect information if "the collection is necessary for the establishment, exercise or defence of a legal or equitable claim" (see Schedule 3, 10.1(e)). But the way things are going for Excite@home at the moment, lawyers would probably be the last thing on their minds.

    If you're serious about putting a stop to this, then try your government privacy body (in my state, it's the Office of the NSW Privacy Commissioner [nsw.gov.au]). More letters to these people (particularly now as it's close to an election) would help all of us stand up for our collective rights.

  • Excuse me, but things like this just make me very angry. How the hell does the ISP know if a file violates copyright or not ?

    Surely to prove copyright violation the company holding the copyright would have to prove in court that a particular file was in violation of its copyright.

    So I don't see where the ISP comes in to all of this.

  • This is all just FUD over a warning email to Optus@Home customers to discourage them from piracy. See this hasty explanation offered by their chief executive [news.com.au]:

    • "It's a fair cop role - not 'cop' as in an active cop, but we're prepared to work within the co-operative framework," Mr Chapman said. "We will not walk away from copyright piracy issues if it' s brought to our attention. It's a reactive but responsible role, not a proactive role."

    They confirmed they will not be actively monitoring customer internet traffic. They're just handling complaints about their users, just like every other ISP already does. They are not scanning downloads for copyright violations as the article title suggests.

  • Anyone? I imagine the easiest way would be to scan their proxy server logs, so don't use their proxy servers.
  • ...are belong to us?

I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the demigodic party. -- Dennis Ritchie

Working...