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Australian ISP Argues For BitTorrent Users 207

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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  • Cobden for iiNet - "You aren't the boss of me"
    Bannon for Studios - "We told them to stop letting people do bad things, and they didn't do what we told them!"

    Apparently there is speculation over whether iiNet will try to argue that packets of data are not a substantial portion of a work, or maybe that the one to one nature of bittorrent isn't the same as a public dissemination, but personally I hope that they establish first that the studios don't have a right to just shut people down by accusation and then argue the technicalities that might get them off. I think that the arguments that it isn't piracy are much weaker than the arguments that the Studio's lawyers do not representive a duely appointed government representative.

  • Won't work. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Richard_at_work ( 517087 ) <{richardprice} {at} {gmail.com}> on Friday March 27, 2009 @05:39PM (#27363911)
    Courts hate people trying to be 'smart' infront of them with arguments, and this is exactly what iiNet is doing. Why limit this to Bittorrent? If breaking the item in question down into individual packets eliminates the copyright concern, then surely just transferring the file by any means digitally will do the same - I can't think of a single protocol which doesn't use packets to transfer a fractional payload of the total, including TCP.

    iiNet are going to fall flat on their face with this argument.
  • by huwr ( 627730 ) on Friday March 27, 2009 @05:57PM (#27364171)
    It's important to consider that the studios are claiming that ISPs should be responsible for what their customers do with their service. That is, that "iiNet was responsible for customers downloading movies illegally and then burning them to DVD to sell or share with friends." To me, that's the much more interesting matter.

    The studios should then sue the electricity companies for providing electricity to people's DVD burners.
  • Re:Objectivity (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 27, 2009 @05:59PM (#27364193)

    There is a big difference here that you are missing .....

    They are not arguing for the individual users. They are arguing for Bittorrent.

    As an analogy, you can use Xerox copy machines to photocopy an entire book. The RIAA, MPAA, and so forth have in effect been going after Xerox for copyright infringement. The single act of copying a single page does not constitute copyright infringement while copying an entire book does.

    Thus the copyright infringement occurs through the actions of the user not the actions of the company who built the copy machine or the software used to transmit a file. Similarly, Ford, Chevy, Ferrari, Porsche, are not sued when someone speeds, crashes and hurts someone. The driver is at fault not the auto companies.

  • Re:SO if I (Score:3, Interesting)

    by HTH NE1 ( 675604 ) on Friday March 27, 2009 @06:08PM (#27364309)

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

    I'm not aware that this is actually against (U.S.) law.

    Its usually only used against pawn shops that buy hot goods and don't finger(print) their customers, or against someone who buys something that "fell off the back of a truck". They don't tend to prosecute those duped into buying the merchandise (ignorance of the crime isn't ignorance of the law), but neither do they remunerate the duped for relinquishing the evidence either--that would be a civil matter between customer and illegal vendor.

  • by msobkow ( 48369 ) on Friday March 27, 2009 @06:12PM (#27364389) Homepage Journal

    The page-a-day analogy is a good one. It really shows how weak the argument/defense is, and I really hope they have something better for their day in court. Otherwise they're just opening up the BitTorrent community to a general attack at the ISP level.

  • Wrong defense (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sashang ( 608223 ) on Friday March 27, 2009 @06:53PM (#27364987)
    That's a daft argument. You could extend that to say an ethernet frame and say 'oh because ethernet frames are broken up they can't be used to distribute copyrighted data'. Similar argument for reading writing blocks to disk etc... It's pretty obvious bittorent can be used to transmit information copyrighted or not. Their defense should focus on the accuracy identifying weather the information transmitted is copyrighted or not, since people do use bittorrent for legitimate reasons. ISP's probably want to win this case because they are aware of the enormous amount of traffic bittorrent generates, most of it being movies, mp3s etc... Forcing them to curtail this will hurt their revenue. The other side of the coin is that people that create music, movies, software are entitled to license it however they want. If they give it away for free good for you but if they copyright it and require payment for it then that doesn't mean you can just take it from them.
  • by Hertne ( 1381263 ) on Friday March 27, 2009 @07:46PM (#27365611)

    Just a quick thought,

    Copyrights can only be applied to goods, I believe, right? If this is the case, then why is IP of this nature even copyrighted to begin with?

    It would, in my eyes, seem to be more of a service than anything. By purchasing a legal copy of a movie online to download, I'm receiving nothing physical for what I payed for. It's not a good.
      I am, however, being provided with the service of entertainment.

    Can services be copyrighted?

    If I were to go down the street, find a street performer and start to copy him (See: Eurotrip [isohunt.com], silver "robot"), and other people were to start paying me, would that be considered copyright infringement? Can he copyright his "act" to begin with?

    Maybe I misunderstand something, but this seems messed up to begin with...

  • Wait a second. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Lord Kano ( 13027 ) on Friday March 27, 2009 @08:20PM (#27366013) Homepage Journal

    I am all for ISPs standing up for the rights of their users, but I call bullshit on this one.

    Bittorrent CAN be used for copyright infringement, just like a photocopier. Just because it CAN be used for illicit purposes doesn't mean that it always is. I have downloaded several Linux distributions using Bittorrent.

    It's one thing to say "No, we're not giving you any information about our subscribers without proof." It's quite another to pretend that it's not possible to do something that we all know is.


If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton