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Australia Government Piracy The Courts United States

US Embassy Sanctioned Lawsuit Against Aussie ISP iiNet 263

Posted by timothy
from the conspiracy-against-the-laity-part-XVXIIIX dept.
New submitter Elenor writes with this story (excerpted) from TorrentFreak, another nugget gleaned from the cables made public by WikiLeaks: "The Canberra Wikileaks cables have revealed that the U.S. Embassy sanctioned a conspiracy by Hollywood studios to target Australian communications company iiNet through the local court-system, with the aim of establishing a binding common-law precedent which would make ISPs responsible for the unauthorised file-sharing of their customers. Both the location, Australia, and the target, iiNet, were carefully selected. A precedent set in Australia would be influential in countries with comparable legal systems such as Canada, India, New Zealand and Great Britain. Australian telecommunications giant Telstra was judged too large for the purposes of the attack. Owing to its smaller size and more limited resources, iiNet was gauged the perfect candidate." The cable describes no overt action on the part of the American embassy, but the wording is telling: "Mike Ellis, the Singapore-based President for Asia Pacific of the Motion Picture Association ... said MPAA did not see any role for Embassy at this time, but wanted to keep us informed."
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US Embassy Sanctioned Lawsuit Against Aussie ISP iiNet

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  • Re:Act of War (Score:5, Informative)

    by Alicat1194 (970019) on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @10:26PM (#38814413)

    Considering how small their population is (~10M IIRC), that must not be very much oil.

    Almost 23M (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Australia), and apparently we use 946,300 barrels per day (http://www.indexmundi.com/map/?v=91) making us the 19th highest user in the world.

  • Re:Act of War (Score:3, Informative)

    by VJmes (2449518) on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @10:26PM (#38814417)
    Replace oil with natural gas and you'd be a little closer to the truth.
  • by mjwx (966435) on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @10:47PM (#38814537)

    No, the US govt is the MPAA's bitch.

    More often then not, the AU govt is the US govt's bitch.

    Sad but true.

    Meanwhile, iinet, the ISP that was sued is going gang busters. They just adsorbed another significant Australian ISP, Internode and it's 100K customers.

  • Re:Act of War (Score:5, Informative)

    by Cimexus (1355033) on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @11:06PM (#38814699)

    We have a decent amount of oil (but not massive amounts). We do have a shitton of natural gas, coal and the majority of the world's uranium though...

  • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @11:08PM (#38814713) Homepage

    Just wishful thinking.

    Look, in the political climate that would even consider Newt Gingrich for president, anything other than overt genocide is going to get a pass.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @12:22AM (#38815247)

    The U.S. embassy did not actually play a role in this, and at no point in the cable do they say that they actually support this case, or plan on offering the MPAA any assistance. All they do was report back to Washington what the MPAA was up to, say they'd keep watch on how it developed. Anyway you don't have to take my word from it, here's the complete cable.

    C O N F I D E N T I A L CANBERRA 001197

    SIPDIS

    STATE PLEASE PASS USTR

    E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/01/2018
    TAGS: KIPR ECPS ECON ETRD AS
    SUBJECT: FILM/TV INDUSTRY FILES COPYRIGHT CASE AGAINST
    AUSSIE ISP

    REF: CANBERRA 1173 (NOTAL)

    Classified By: AMBASSADOR ROBERT D. MCCALLUM JR, REASON 1.4 (B, D)

    1. (C) Summary: On November 20 several media companies filed
    legal action against Australia's #3 internet service provider
    (ISP) iiNet, seeking a ruling that iiNet has infringed
    copyright by not taking reasonable steps to prevent
    unauthorized use of films and TV programs by its customers.
    This is the first such case filed in Australia. The case was
    filed by the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft
    (AFACT) on behalf of the Motion Picture Association of
    America (MPAA) and its international affiliate, the Motion
    Picture Association (MPA), but does not want that fact to be
    broadcasted. Initial reactions support MPAA's claim that it
    has a strong legal case. End Summary.

    A NEW LEGAL CHALLENGE AGAINST PIRACY AIMS AT ISP

    2. (U) On November 20 the Australian Federation Against
    Copyright Theft (AFACT) announced that several media firms
    had filed a case in the Federal Court of Australia against
    iiNet, Australia's third largest ISP, for "failing to take
    reasonable steps, including enforcing its own terms and
    conditions, to prevent known unauthorised use of copies of
    the companies' films and TV programs by iiNet's customers via
    its network." The action was filed by Village Roadshow (an
    Australian company that produces and distributes movies and
    DVDs, among other activities), Universal Pictures, Warner
    Brothers Entertainment, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures
    Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., Disney
    Enterprises, and the Seven Network (one of Australia's three
    major over-the-air television networks and a licensee of some
    of the infringed works). Proceedings will be back before the
    court on December 17; a ruling is unlikely before the end of
    2009.

    3. (U) This is the first such case to be filed in Australian
    courts. iiNet claims that it is protected by the "safe
    harbor" provisions of the Copyright Act - i.e., ISPs are
    merely common carriers of traffic, so the dispute is between
    copyright owners and violators. iiNet said in its media
    release response that it routinely turns over to the police
    evidence of piracy on its network.

    THE REST OF THE STORY

    4. (C) Despite the lead role of AFACT and the inclusion of
    Australian companies Village Roadshow and the Seven Network,
    this is an MPAA/American studios production. Mike Ellis, the
    Singapore-based President for Asia Pacific of the Motion
    Picture Association, briefed Ambassador on the filing on
    November 26. Ellis confirmed that MPAA was the mover behind
    AFACT's case (AFACT is essentially MPAA's Australian
    subcontractor; MPAA/MPA have no independent, formal presence
    here), acting on behalf of the six American studios involved.
    MPAA prefers that its leading role not be made public.
    AFACT and MPAA worked hard to get Village Roadshow and the
    Seven Network to agree to be the public Australian faces on
    the case to make it clear there are Australian equities at
    stake, and this isn't just Hollywood "bullying some poor
    little Australian ISP."

    5. (C) Why iiNet? Ellis said they were the right target on
    several levels. First, they are big enough to be important -
    iiNet is the third largest ISP in Australia. (Telstra,
    owners of top Australian ISP BigPond which has about half of
    the market, are t

  • by Gadget_Guy (627405) * on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @12:46AM (#38815367)

    We came up with Big Brother and exported it to the world :(

    No we didn't. It was the Dutch who invented that quality show.

  • by benjamindees (441808) on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @01:36AM (#38815617) Homepage

    So, this is a new troll, right? Where you choose one of the most abusive Democrat presidents ever and try to pass him off as some type of anti-expansionist-government crusader? What's next... Lincoln warned us about deploying troops in the US? Wilson warned us about inflationary fiat currency?

  • by the_raptor (652941) on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @01:54AM (#38815689)

    [quote]With the tanks the German made Leopards we just retired were superior in a lot of roles[/quote]

    Yes but they were mostly worn out. We operated stuff like the Leopards and M113's well past the use-by-date on the chassis.

    The real problem with the Abram's deal is that our government is terrified of anything to do with the words "nuclear" or "uranium" (unless it is exporting uranium) and so we got the crappy armour for our Abram's that the Americans replaced in the mid-80's.

    The problem is that most of our local defence needs are going to involve urban/jungle warfare where "modern" AT weapons (like the ancient RPG-7) would tear our under-armoured Abrams, let alone Leopards, apart. We would have been better off spending the money on some tracked IFV's with a big gun version of that IFV to fill the tank role. Instead we bought MBT's which we have little use for and lack the logistics to support properly, and are mostly reliant on wheeled IFVs like the ASLAV or Bushmaster. Those are fine for the dry season but would be almost totally worthless in the rainy season.

  • by Rennt (582550) on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @02:43AM (#38815887)

    This is a lawsuit, not a new law.

    They were trying to establish a common-law precedent. North Americans seem to be thrown by this a lot (overly fixated on the Constitution is my guess). But in a country using the Common Law [wikipedia.org] system, that IS a new law. Hence the selection of a soft target in a smaller economy.

    Honestly... this was all covered in the summary.

  • Old News (Score:3, Informative)

    by foxed (152267) on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @02:45AM (#38815897)

    Sigh.

    This was news in August 2011.

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/08/31/afact_subcontractor_to_mpaa/ [theregister.co.uk]

  • by rtb61 (674572) on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @07:52AM (#38816991) Homepage

    Correct, precedent is set and in any future case this evidence as well as precedence will be submitted. Note losers pays so iiNet got a major chunk of it's money back, this evidence could be used in a "Barratry, Maintenance and Champerty" case to gain further damages http://www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/lrc.nsf/pages/DP36CHP2 [nsw.gov.au]. Major case, major investment but a good chance of succeeding, another countries involvement especially a country with a clear reputation for threats of trade and military intervention will likely leave a vary bad taste in any independent Australian judges mouth.

    Especially now with the US forcing thousands of armed and fully loaded marines Marines, in fact they will be the largest armed and ready for conflict force in Australia, so targeted at China or an independent Australia and it's resources (once in will Australia ever be able to remove them and how much larger will their numbers get).

    Separation of powers works in Australia, and the high court routinely hands down judgements against the government http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_High_Court [wikipedia.org], strict literal interpretation of the laws and constitution as written and any changes to the constitution require a public referendum.

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