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Australian ISP Argues For BitTorrent Users 207

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the potential-for-more-harm-than-good dept.
taucross writes "Australian ISP iiNet is making a very bold move. They are asking the court to accept that essentially, BitTorrent cannot be used to distribute pirated content because a packet does not represent a substantial portion of the infringing material. They are also hedging their bets purely on the strength of the movie studios' 'forensic' evidence. This ruling will go straight to the heart of Australia's copyright law. At last, an ISP willing to stand up for its customers! Let's hope we have a technically-informed judge."
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Australian ISP Argues For BitTorrent Users

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  • SO if I (Score:3, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Friday March 27, 2009 @04:17PM (#27363641) Homepage Journal

    Bought a book, and then started handing out copies I make of the book one page at a time It is not copyright infringement?

    Yeah, that will fly~

    Using it to counter this specific item i.e. forensic evidence, might.

  • by godrik (1287354) on Friday March 27, 2009 @04:19PM (#27363675)
    Taken independently, each of my blow was not enough to kill!
  • Re:SO if I (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dgatwood (11270) on Friday March 27, 2009 @04:24PM (#27363715) Journal

    No, but if you always handed out the first page, it might. You'd probably need to show some reasonable purpose for doing so, though, e.g. scholarly research and criticism. I don't think BitTorrent will pass even such a low bar. And the fact that you'd be handing out every page, merely handing out different ones to different people, makes this defense prima facie laughable, IMHO. Hope they have some more subtle arguments that I'm not seeing. Otherwise, that seems like a really weak defense to me.

  • Re:SO if I (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 27, 2009 @04:26PM (#27363729)

    I think the argument that they're making here is that you're handing out single letters at a time, to follow the book analogy.

    Except that you're not handing out an entire book (unless you're the original seed). You're handing out some of the letters, more or less randomly - just in a framework that they can all be put together in.

    In all fairness, the argument is fairly sound. The individual seeds are only accessories to copyright infringement, and someone who only downloads and doesn't seed back is entirely innocent of it.

  • Re:SO if I (Score:2, Insightful)

    by master5o1 (1068594) on Friday March 27, 2009 @04:27PM (#27363745) Homepage
    Or what about this:

    That 30 second preview on Wikipedia. Say there are websites that have this 30 second preview at different parts of the song...you find one at the beginning, one that is 30 seconds into the song, etc..until you have the entire song.

    Remember, you've just been using the 30 second preview from various websites, absolutely `legal`...or is it? (oh yeah. 30 seconds was the time it took me to think of this crappy post)
  • Objectivity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Toonol (1057698) on Friday March 27, 2009 @04:29PM (#27363781)
    Just because someone is arguing a side that most of us support, doesn't mean that their argument isn't ridiculous. We need to keep our intellectual honesty about us. Taking their reasoning, it could be argued the TCP/IP never violates copyright; that a file broken out on disk clusters never violates copyright; and so on.

    If you're sharing a copyrighted file via torrent without permission, I think you indisputably are violating copyright law. Perhaps copyright law is poorly conceived... I certainly think it is. However, I don't think arguing through silly loopholes is going to help the core problem. The law needs reformed.
  • Interesting. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Icegryphon (715550) on Friday March 27, 2009 @04:35PM (#27363859)
    I wish that I had the URL of the article, but China is the location of the most torrented movies.

    Why? because movies have to be approved by the government and Hollywood see that as too much work.

    So while hollywood has given up on china, china hasn't given up on them.

    BTW, I think since our government is being so intrusive into private businesses lately maybe they

    should do something actor pay and ticket prices, Also how much Network Exec's can make.

  • by pavon (30274) on Friday March 27, 2009 @04:36PM (#27363881)

    I don't know about AU, but the US has long standing laws and precedent for how to deal with situations where people try and get around the law using silly technicalities like this. You don't think organized crime hasn't played these sort of games in the real world before?

  • Re:SO if I (Score:2, Insightful)

    by atari2600 (545988) on Friday March 27, 2009 @04:43PM (#27363977)

    No if you bought a book and then handed out each word in the book, then it's not copyright infringement. Like if you print out this post and pass out each character of the English alphabet, as much as I will hate you, I cannot sue you *and* win.

  • Re:SO if I (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 27, 2009 @05:02PM (#27364233)

    someone who only downloads and doesn't seed back is entirely innocent

    except said someone is kind of a douchebag

  • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tubal-Cain (1289912) on Friday March 27, 2009 @05:03PM (#27364235) Journal
    I think they may have come to the conclusion that the high bandwidth cost of file sharing is less expensive and time consuming than being responsible for their customers' copyright infringement.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 27, 2009 @05:09PM (#27364341)

    The movie industry is fighting against the very laws that they helped create. There are five [whirlpool.net.au] very [whirlpool.net.au] interesting [whirlpool.net.au] posts [whirlpool.net.au] that I found [whirlpool.net.au] in a couple of minutes on Whirlpool that discuss the situation the ISPs and the media companies are in. The short of it: the media companies lobbied for particular procedures that let them go after individual users; they got them; and when they found that they were unworkable, decided to go after the ISPs instead. Deja vu, anyone?

  • Re:SO if I (Score:4, Insightful)

    by EdIII (1114411) * on Friday March 27, 2009 @05:10PM (#27364359)

    Well, except for that pesky little thing of being in receipt of infringing goods.

    You can't be in receipt of infringing goods. Goods also cannot be infringed upon in the first place as they are physical. I know it's nitpicking, but it's important as you can never steal intellectual property. This is on the internet, so the distribution is digital over wires and not transferred on a physical medium which can be called a "good" and actually stolen.

    The person sending the data infringes upon the copyrights by distributing without permission. The person receiving it only starts to infringe upon the copyrights when they first begin to use it without permission, or distribute it themselves in it's entirety.

    The whole argument is weak bullshit of course. Bittorrent can be used for piracy just as much as it can be used to distribute free information. Where it is weak is claiming that only one piece at a time is sent, which is not infringing in of itself (The letter A is not copyrighted), but failing to recognize the ultimate purpose is to receive 100% of the data. Not 70, 80, or 90. 100%.

    The only person that is not guilty of copyright violation at all, are the assholes that do not seed back with a 1:1 ratio. In that case, they never actually sent the entire file. However, Bittorrent would have failed a long time ago if that happened everywhere.

    Ultimately, Bittorrent can result in the distribution of pirated data unless you interrupt the process to prevent it from reaching its intended, and designed goal.

    The only way they could make that work is if you had A,B,C each having 33.3% of the data and participating in the torrent. They don't ever download more than what they have, and none of their recipients ever give back 100%. That is NOT the way Bittorrent works and I think the judge will understand that at least. It makes no sense.

  • Honesty ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bug1 (96678) on Friday March 27, 2009 @05:35PM (#27364731)

    If we are going to be honest, let us all (RIAA, MPAA etc) admit that its people, not technology that violate copyrights.

    If we are going to be honest, how about the Music cartels refund all the royalties they collect from the sale BLANK cd's and dvd's. (they arent all used to violate copyright)

    If we are going to be honest, how about the RIAA, MPAA stop labeling copyright infringer's as thieves (copyright violation isnt theft, different law).

    If we are going to be honest, how about the RIAA, MPAA confess all the dirty legal and technical methods they have used in their attempt to convict anyone they can (other than the sony hack we already know about)

    Its a dirty fight, the other side isnt interested in honesty or fairness, i say we fight them any way we can.

  • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jurily (900488) <jurily&gmail,com> on Friday March 27, 2009 @06:17PM (#27365285)

    I think they may have come to the conclusion that the high bandwidth cost of file sharing is less expensive and time consuming than being responsible for their customers' copyright infringement.

    Or they see a niche market among those who are on the wrong end of the witch hunt.

    "We protect our users" could be a pretty good slogan.

  • Re:SO if I (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Friday March 27, 2009 @06:18PM (#27365291) Homepage Journal

    Some of us really don't care either way and will continue to do as we please with the digital copy that in reality doesn't effect the original in any way.

  • Re:fantasy land (Score:5, Insightful)

    by meringuoid (568297) on Friday March 27, 2009 @06:52PM (#27365707)
    You do understand that consuming music means listening to it and consuming video means watching it, right?

    I don't understand that at all. I don't consider either something you 'consume'. I listen to music. I watch videos. I don't consume either of them, any more than I consume a book when I read it, or consume a chair when I sit on it, or consume a table when I eat my dinner off it. To my mind, if you consume something, you use it and use it up entirely in doing so. You consume food, you consume fuel, you consume anything that is necessarily destroyed in the process of its usage. For nondestructive usage, we have all manner of perfectly cromulent verbs that we can use instead.

  • Re:SO if I (Score:5, Insightful)

    by taucross (1330311) on Friday March 27, 2009 @11:03PM (#27367621)

    It unfortunately does seem very weak. But, at least they're not playing ball with the plantiffs. By not even admitting that their users download illegal content, they've made it quite clear they won't be co-operating with the studios.

    Can't say I blame them. I'm of the belief that the "internet is imaginary" - I don't think anyone should be prosecuted for anything on it. Unpopular school of thought I know, you needn't inform me. :)

  • Re:Meh... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rohan972 (880586) on Saturday March 28, 2009 @12:10AM (#27367921)

    By that exact same reasoning a raw IP packet "cannot be used to distribute pirated content because a packet does not represent a substantial portion of the infringing material".

    From TFA: They also claimed that, because files are broken up into tiny "packets" before being sent over BitTorrent, this may not be enough to suggest a "substantial portion" of a copyrighted file was distributed.

    I think the argument might not be that sending it by packets cannot be infringement but that logging a few packets is not enough evidence either to kick their customers or be held liable themselves.

    iiNet have a contract with their customers, not with the media companies. Should they disconnect people only on the basis of an IP number and file name given to them by a third party? They ought to be wary of breaking those service contracts. Since the customers also do not go on an ISP blacklist or anything (yet) all their compliance would do is to send that customer to another ISP, their competition, as well as expose them to lawsuits from ex-customers who got disconnected. So they have quite rightly stated that they require a higher standard of evidence than media company accusations.

  • Re:Zeno (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rohan972 (880586) on Saturday March 28, 2009 @12:20AM (#27367971)

    Yes. By extension, if you go to a bookstore several times and rip out some of the pages of a book each time until you have stolen the entire book, then there's nothing wrong. The degree of deliberate self-delusion on this thread is mind boggling.

    The summary is badly written. If I understand the article correctly "They also claimed that, because files are broken up into tiny "packets" before being sent over BitTorrent, this may not be enough to suggest a "substantial portion" of a copyrighted file was distributed." they are intending to argue that logging a few packets is not enough evidence for them to kick their customers off or for themselves to be held liable. I don't think they are trying to argue that files are not distributed this way. It's not an unreasonable position to take given the various frivolous lawsuits in the US based on the same type of evidence accompanying the demand to break their service contracts and force their customers to their competitors service.

  • Re:Wow (Score:3, Insightful)

    by commodore64_love (1445365) on Saturday March 28, 2009 @08:05AM (#27369569) Journal

    I don't know iiNet's motive, but I think their reasoning is falacious.

    If I copy 1 page of a textbook today, 1 page the next day, and so on..... its true each "packet" could be considered fair use, but I eventually end-up with a whole book by the end of the year. So it IS copyright infringement. The same is true with torrents.

There is no royal road to geometry. -- Euclid

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