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The Courts The Internet

AU Legal Group Says ISP Allowed 100K Illegal Downloads 191

Posted by kdawson
from the uncommon-carrier dept.
In Australia, a court wrapped up day one of what promises to be a 4-week trial of media interests against ISP iiNet. Reader bennyboy64 writes "iTnews reports that Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft investigators claim to have recorded almost 100,000 instances of Australian internet service provider iiNet users making available online unauthorized copies of films and TV programs, lawyers for the film industry said in the Federal Court in Sydney today. The lawyers for the film industry claimed iiNet had done 'nothing' to discourage copyright infringement on its network. iTnews also has a background piece on the case, with a Flash-y graph."
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AU Legal Group Says ISP Allowed 100K Illegal Downloads

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  • Pax (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 07, 2009 @04:52AM (#29667477)

    Yes, they did. So did I. But htere's a legal distinction between "allow" and "authorise", something AFACT appears to be doing its best to ignore.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by remmelt (837671)

      Yeah, and what's with the name: Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft?

      Copyright Theft? Is that where I catburgle Universal HQ and make off with the copyright papers for the latest hit artist? How can a copyright be stolen?

      • Re:Pax (Score:5, Interesting)

        by rtb61 (674572) on Wednesday October 07, 2009 @09:58AM (#29669311) Homepage

        Well in this case it is even more interesting, they are not just trying to claim copyright theft on their works but on the title of their works. They claimed 29,914, hmm, did they download and validate that those titles as listed where in fact the works they claim to have ownership or did they just look at the title and pretend it was evidence. Lets see 97,942 instances even music at three minutes a piece that is still 4,800 hours of works they claim to a checked and confirmed as their content.

        So the Federation Against Copyright Theft claim that iiNet has not monitored and censored their users, well I should hope not, as that would be an illegal and criminal act and iiNet would rightfully be sued for attempting to do so by their users and, of course prosecuted under law. In Australia it is a criminal act for companies to monitor telecommunications for any reason other than strictly limited checking of quality of service, not to be recorded and, not to be censored.

        There are even privacy laws in place to protect employees from excess invasions of privacy, let alone customers and of course non-customers, those people the customers are communicating with who have no connection with the company providing telecommunication services.

        • In Australia it is a criminal act for companies to monitor telecommunications for any reason other than strictly limited checking of quality of service, not to be recorded and, not to be censored.

          So, if the thing they're being accused of turns out actually to be a crime, iiNet are screwed (along with every other Australian ISP).

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Shagg (99693)

            Actually, they're being accused of NOT committing a crime. How dare they!

      • by Pseudonym (62607)

        As you may have worked out, it makes for a good abbreviation. It makes people think that they enforce a fact, rather than a legal fiction.

    • Re:Pax (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Dan541 (1032000) on Wednesday October 07, 2009 @09:11AM (#29668811) Homepage

      Holden repeatedly allows their vehicles to be used in drug running, armed robberies and abductions by failing to control what the vehicles are used for.

    • by sconeu (64226)

      In other news, the Australian government was found to have enabled thousands of crimes by providing roads for getaway cars.

      • Excerpts and in some cases the entirety of books were recently copied. They were written on (GasP) PAPER!

        Paper should be more controlled so that it's future content does not violate copyright.

    • by shentino (1139071)

      Actual knowledge of a criminal offense usually makes you an accessory no matter what you allow or don't allow.

      In theory this is ok, but in practice you can be imputed up the wazoo on the sayso of circumstantial evidence.

      This forces you to be more diligent than you are normally required to be in order to stamp out piracy...unfortunately imputing yourself in more stuff.

  • by Xiph (723935) on Wednesday October 07, 2009 @05:05AM (#29667539)

    that they weren't required to do!

    Time for me to sue someone for not giving me money!
    Saddle up, we're going to Australia!

    • by ZarathustraDK (1291688) on Wednesday October 07, 2009 @07:43AM (#29668231)
      Roads! ROADS!
      Roads fascilitate the transport of untold amounts illegal and/or dangerous materials including : drugs, immigrants, weapons and WMD's.
      Close the roads!
  • by tnok85 (1434319) on Wednesday October 07, 2009 @05:05AM (#29667541)
    This just in! A group of car insurance companies just sued several state governments because they have allowed drivers to operate vehicles at unauthorized speeds, which led to accidents and higher insurance costs! Insurance companies know this because bicyclists have been watching how fast cars go, and they go way too fast!

    Wait a minute, you can actually prove tangible losses from people speeding. That would make this lawsuit a little more feasible than what AFACT wants.
    • by lordandmaker (960504) on Wednesday October 07, 2009 @05:12AM (#29667581) Homepage

      Wait a minute, you can actually prove tangible losses from people speeding.

      You can? In the UK it's what keeps local government afloat.

      • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Wednesday October 07, 2009 @08:17AM (#29668441) Journal

        I miss the days when Montana had no speed limit, except near the cities. We need more states like that. Interstates were designed for rapid travel (120 miles per hour). It seems silly to limit ourselves to only half that.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Runaway1956 (1322357) *

          Actually, the interstates were "designed" to keep traffic moving at about 80 mph, nationwide. A good driver can actually navigate just about all of the interstate system doing that speed - some mountain areas never made the grade, and probably never will. Oh, wow, this site disagrees with what I was taught - http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/programadmin/interstate.cfm [dot.gov] "Examples of design standards for the Interstate System include full control of access, design speeds of 50 to 70 miles per hour (depending on type

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            >>>the interstates were "designed" to keep traffic moving at about 80 mph, nationwide

            Not correct. If you read the original Act from Congress, it mandates that the roads must be able to safely sustain 120 MPH travel. This was done immediately after World War 2 and the goal was to provide a way to move the U.S. Army rapidly across the continent as quickly as possible, hence the 120mph design minimum.

        • by Nazlfrag (1035012)

          Half seems stupid. Yet at around 100km/h (a bit over 60 mph) the stopping distance of a typically loaded semi-trailer starts increasing exponentially. I'm happy that the limit is set at the limit of the largest vehicle generally seen, though it is stupid to put 4 tonne+ trucks and passenger cars on the same limit. No limit should be set outside of cities and towns where only vehicles are allowed except for trucks, buses and cars with caravans or trailers, who should stay below 100km/h (60mph). Funnily enoug

          • About Montana (Score:4, Informative)

            by BenEnglishAtHome (449670) on Wednesday October 07, 2009 @09:57AM (#29669293)

            I'm happy that the limit is set at the limit of the largest vehicle generally seen, though it is stupid to put 4 tonne+ trucks and passenger cars on the same limit.

            Interesting you should make that observation.

            The GP was wrong. Montana never had no speed limit (except, technically, for a short period of time between the court decision and legislative action referenced in the next paragraph). They simply said you could drive as fast as you wanted as long as you stayed "reasonable and prudent". In many jurisdictions, the traffic court judges interpreted that to mean "Don't even think about writing a ticket for anyone going less than a hundred." Nobody, however, would have batted at eye at writing up a semi-trailer for traveling at 90mph. It's not safe.

            The Montana situation fell apart when an edge case [wikipedia.org] cropped up. A driver was ticketed for doing 90 mph, was convicted, and appealed. He prevailed at the state supreme court level because the court held that the a speed limit law that only specifed "reasonable and prudent" was simply too vague to be constitutional. The state responded by setting speed limits.

            • That driver was stupid. Yes he got-out of his 90mph ticket, but now he's obliged to drive 75 or less. Before he had freedom to drive fast, and now he doesn't. ----- I've driven across North Dakota and Montana, and the 75mph speed limit struck me as silly. In the area where these too states join, there's quite literally nothing to hit so I don't see why this section of I-94 (near Glendive MT) needs a limit, anymore than the German Autobahns have limits.

              Trivia -

              Glendive is the smallest television marke

              • by Nazlfrag (1035012)

                You weren't stupid at all though in criticising somebody for appealing an unfair conviction. Of course it's his fault that the system responded in a typical overbearing manner. For fucks sake, just count yourself lucky that the higher courts found in his favour, and next time you're fined unfairly actually do something about it instead of belittling those who do.

                • My point was that the driver's lawsuit, to quote Benjamin Franklin, "Penny wise and dollar foolish". The guy got out of his ~$100 fine which is good, but now that the limit has been dropped to 75, he's probably getting speeding tickets left and right, and racking-up a thousand or more in fines.

    • by LKM (227954) on Wednesday October 07, 2009 @05:34AM (#29667659) Homepage
      This just in! The telephone companies do nothing to prevent people from discussing crimes on the phone! Spray can manufacturers do nothing to prevent people from doing illegal graffitis! Sock manufacturers do nothing to keep people from kicking each other's asses!
      • by mpe (36238)
        This just in! The telephone companies do nothing to prevent people from discussing crimes on the phone!

        Nor do companies making telephones and fax machines for that matter. Then you have pen, pencil and paper makers together with the postal service.

        Spray can manufacturers do nothing to prevent people from doing illegal graffitis!

        Not even a warning not to do this on the can.

        Sock manufacturers do nothing to keep people from kicking each other's asses!

        Or together with shoes they can be used by people
      • >>>The telephone companies do nothing to prevent people from discussing crimes on the phone!

        This is probably the strongest argument. I can both download and upload files over the telephone lines, but the company can not be sued. It is not responsible for how its phone lines are being used.

    • by Dan541 (1032000)

      Wait a minute, you can actually prove tangible losses from people speeding.

      I can!

      My bank statement is full of withdrawals to pay the fines.

    • by nomadic (141991)
      This just in! A group of car insurance companies just sued several state governments because they have allowed drivers to operate vehicles at unauthorized speeds, which led to accidents and higher insurance costs! Insurance companies know this because bicyclists have been watching how fast cars go, and they go way too fast!

      Analogy falls apart; the insurance company can't prevent drivers from driving. The ISP can certainly prevent anyone from downloading stuff through it.
      • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

        You completely misunderstood the analogy, the Insurance company equates to the music industry, not the ISP. The government equates to the ISP in the analogy, and it is the government that controls the licenses to drive a vehicle.

        The analogy is actually just about perfect.

        ISPs do not revoke the download rights of a person who has illegaly downloaded copyrighted media, at least not until they receive an order from the court to do so. Similarly, the government does not revoke the license of a driver who spee

  • Er, well spotted. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lordandmaker (960504) on Wednesday October 07, 2009 @05:05AM (#29667543) Homepage
    From what I gather, BT neither discourages or is expected to discourage the use of their phone network for things like buying controlled substances and arranging burglaries. That's normally left up to the police.
    • by Thanshin (1188877) on Wednesday October 07, 2009 @05:19AM (#29667605)

      Why go to BT and phones?

      Just present examples of the exact same ISP letting people buy anything illegal by mail.

      In a movie court, the handsome and manly lawyer would open a portable in front of the judge, connect to a "illegal dvd sale by postal mail" and order 100.000 movies.

  • by misnohmer (1636461) on Wednesday October 07, 2009 @05:15AM (#29667587)

    So the argument here is that the ISP is liable for illegal content exchange. What about the router manufacturer? How about the OS manufacturer? If the traffic was all encrypted, is the ISP on the hook for man-in-the-middle attacks to decrypt and inspect the content, or will they then be liable for invasion of privacy? Is there such a thing as privacy down under?

    • by cjfs (1253208)

      Well, Cisco has an adequate legal department, so routers are right out. OS goes without saying. Certificate authorities are again too big, but maybe some poor little ssh project?

      Screw it, lets just sue random email users and claim victory.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Screw it, lets just sue random email users and claim victory.

        Nice idea. Hire a spambot for a few hours and send out demands for an "out of court settlement" to 100 million randomers. Some of them are bound to be filesharers with guilty consciences.

        Oh wait, isn't that bascially what the RIAA has been doing?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ciderVisor (1318765)

      You don't have to decrypt anything to figure out the IP address of a peer offering a particular torrent file. The BitTorrent client wouldn't be able to work if it didn't have a list of peer IP addresses.

      • by Kjella (173770)

        True, but that list of IPs doesn't come from the torrent, it comes from the tracker. So either the ISP would have to listen to all your HTTP traffic trying to figure out when you're talking to a tracker, or it'd have to connect to the tracker itself. Both approaches can be trivially blocked with HTTPS and some very light authentication to deny them access. They could answer with MITM and it'd move to proper signed certificates outside the CA system. If the responsbility is put on the ISP's shoulders it'll c

        • Ah, OK. I was thinking of the situation we had with MediaDefender [wikipedia.org], where they reported infringing users to the relevant ISP with a view to having them punished in some way (cut off, throttled, whatever). Not where the ISPs themselves police traffic.

      • Actually you do have to decrypt the contents, otherwise you have no idea what it is.

        If you took videos of your children playing in the backyard and labeled it "Star Wars" and put it on P2P, that's not infringing on George Lucas regardless of what you've called your video.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by mirix (1649853)
      I can't wait until they start suing the electrons!

      section 4083:
      (1) A person commits an offence if:
      They network two computers via:
      (a) copper; or
      (b) fibre; or
      (c) through the ether.

      (2) A person commits an offence if they network a media operating device via sneakernet.

      (i) An offence against subsection (1) or (2) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction, and will have the network removed from their possesion; or
      (ii) in the case of subsection (2), the offender will have the limbs us
    • by Monolith1 (1481423) on Wednesday October 07, 2009 @06:36AM (#29667949)

      Is there such a thing as privacy down under?

      Snigger...

    • by Culture20 (968837)
      Wasn't ICANN responsible for something?
  • Ban their iTunes (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    It's clearly the fault of the content producers. Without them there would be no infringement.

    Anyway, there's an even better solution that the film industry should consider - banning the iTunes etc accounts associated with these IPs. I guess they prefer to damage other people's business though.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 07, 2009 @05:29AM (#29667637)
    The New Zealand equivalent to AFACT are creatively called NZFACT, and they said that they want to be able to punish people based on accusations of infringement

    "[NZFACT] envisaged ISPs would act on infringement notices generated automatically by copyright holders, who would identify infringers by tracking traffic on file-sharing sites." -- Creative Freedom Foundation [creativefreedom.org.nz]

    What's more is there's a kiwi group of 10 thousand artists against NZFACT because they're sick of being misrepresented. here's their press release tearing into NZFacT [creativefreedom.org.nz].

  • Dear Australia (Score:5, Insightful)

    by noundi (1044080) on Wednesday October 07, 2009 @05:43AM (#29667709)

    The lawyers for the film industry claimed iiNet had done 'nothing' to discourage copyright infringement on its network.

    I don't understand. Are your telecom providers forced to actively discourage illegal phone calls, such as bomb threats or sexual harassment? Are your book dealers forced to actively discourage photocopying of books? Are your radiostations forced to discourage people from turning on their radios in public locations without paying STIM? Are your pastry bakers forced to discourage people from throwing cakes at eachother? [youtube.com]
     
    Australia, help us understand your line of thought.

    • Re:Dear Australia (Score:4, Informative)

      by Zeussy (868062) on Wednesday October 07, 2009 @06:14AM (#29667833) Homepage
      A lot of people reckon its partially pushed by Senator Conroy for getting back at iiNet for them publicly opposing his Net filter plans, see ye olde slashdot article here: http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/11/11/1329222 [slashdot.org]
    • Re:Dear Australia (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Techman83 (949264) on Wednesday October 07, 2009 @07:42AM (#29668229)
      Believe me, speaking as an Australian this isn't our line of thought. From iinet's [iinet.net.au] news:

      For the record, iiNet doesn't support any breaches of the law, including copyright theft. On the contrary, iiNet has led the industry with legal content offerings through our Freezone, including agreements with iTunes, ABC iView, Xbox, the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, Cruizin', Macquarie Digital TV, Barclays Premier League Football, Super 14 Rugby, Drift Racing 2007 and classic highlights of golf's four Majors.

      We don't believe we should take any action which could result in the disconnection of a customer's service, based on poorly supported allegations. AFACT are asking us to be the investigator, judge and executioner despite their failure to provide us with tangible evidence.

      The approach that AFACT has taken is akin to arguing that if a person were to use Australia Post to deliver a pirated DVD, Australia Post has authorised the pirated content on the DVD by delivering it.

      And it seems, iinet's line of thinking, is more along the lines of what sensible aussies are thinking.

    • by Nerdfest (867930)
      Discourage? They shouldn't even have the right to view the content of your data connection, same as your phone calls. You want to listen, get a warrant, same as other communication channels.
  • You Know... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Greyfox (87712) on Wednesday October 07, 2009 @06:14AM (#29667831) Homepage Journal
    As an internet provider it's kind of a pain in the ass to police the entire internet. It's not at all difficult to refuse to serve a problematic customer. Like the one that keeps demanding that you police the entire internet. You see where I'm going with this?
  • Knife makers enabled uncountable murders by stabbing, and other crimes such as robbery. Firearms makers enabled untold deaths, and other crimes such as robbery. Highways have allowed unimaginable death, injury and property loss. The phone system has been used for everything from death and bomb threats to obscene phone calls!!!

    How can these be allowed any further?!

  • A happy customer. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Rennt (582550) on Wednesday October 07, 2009 @08:04AM (#29668351)

    This isn't the first time they've gone to court to protect the rights of its customers, and they are the only ISP down under who is (vocally) opposed to the government's "kiddy porn" filter.

    This is precisely the reason why I have stuck with iiNet for over 10 years. They don't give a shit what I do with my bandwith, and use the money I pay them for it to invest in improving their network (and my service).

    You would almost think that their job was moving bits around or something. The nerve!

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by lordlod (458156)
      Not the only ISP, Internode and others have been vocal in their opposition. Internode had a staffer leak a pile of information on the filter which they neglected to punish him for.
  • I was at a conference when I overheard the head of AFACT talking to a senior person in APRA... it was a truly scary experience to hear them talk about how they have to "educate the public before they (the public) try to make torrenting legal" and how they want to ensure that they get a cut of every "performance" and they were using the most liberal definitions of what performance meant. They were portraying copyright enforcement to be the highest good. True believers (AND bad dressers!).
  • According to AFACT lawyers, ignoring that something goes on (as that ISP probably did) means to authorize, so does that mean that the federal government is authorizing the giant doomsday device I'm secretly building in my basement?
  • AU Legal Group Says ISP Allowed 100K Illegal Dowloads

    Nice to know we have such great editors like kdawson who always keep their eye on the ball.

    The issue use to be iiNet's supposed caching [itnews.com.au] of said content. Possibly to do with this patent? [whirlpool.net.au]

  • Responsibility ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by daveime (1253762) on Wednesday October 07, 2009 @08:17AM (#29668439)

    Anthrax is sent through the post, we don't blame the Post Office.

    Death threats are sent through the telephone, we don't blame the Telephone Company.

    People commit suicide on the railway, we don't blame the Train Company.

    While all these things are prevented, or avoided, where possible, it is not the responsibility of the company to decide what an individual does, nor to take the blame when they do it.

    Now apply this logic to ISP and a user downloading something, possibly legal, possibly illegal. (If it's inside a passworded RAR file, who the hell knows which is which anyway).

    You can't shoot the messenger because the message he delivers says something you don't like.

    Media Industry want ISPs to be their police, because they can't find an effective way of doing it themselves. If policing doesn't work, hell let't just blame the police because
    there are so many criminals.

    What planet do these Media Industry people live on ?

    Their sales model is dead, it is no longer an "Industry" as they don't need to make anything anymore. Just whack out the latest clone remake of some decent 70's / 80's movie, and offer DRM free downloads for $1 ...

    "I'd buy that for a dollar !!!".

    • by VShael (62735)

      You can't shoot the messenger because the message he delivers says something you don't like.

      But THIS ... IS ... SPARTA!!

      So I think you can.

  • The lawyers for the film industry claimed iiNet had done 'nothing' to discourage copyright infringement on its network.

    That's all well and good, but what about the copper mines? Clearly the copper mines that extracted the copper used in the wires and traces of those infringers' computers did not lift a finger to prevent copyrighted patterns of ones and zeros from being sent as signals across their copper conductors. We simply cannot have unreasonable copyright enforcement until every company whose products

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