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Piracy Australia Your Rights Online

BitTorrent Trial Makes Australia's High Court 98

daria42 writes "Australia's highest court has agreed to hear the long-running BitTorrent case between one of the country's largest ISPs, iiNet, and a group of film and TV studios represented by a copyright organization known as AFACT. The case has the potential to determine once and for all whether Australians who download content via BitTorrent can have their Internet connections disconnected upon the request of the studios. It's lawyers at ten paces!"
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BitTorrent Trial Makes Australia's High Court

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  • by renegadesx ( 977007 ) on Friday August 12, 2011 @02:16AM (#37065670)
    The High Court usually only hears cases that people argue goes against the Consitution and doesn't hear appeal cases too much.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      That's not necessarily true. The high court hears appeals against Supreme Court decisions, Constitutional challenges, and all areas of contract and other law - particularly in very high value disputes.

      Constitutional challenges are a small minority of the work the High Court does.

      • by Moryath ( 553296 )

        The High Court also addresses cases where two jurisdictions have a differing ruling on something relating to federal law (say, if the 9th circuit and 7th circuit each rule opposite ways).

        But you can't appeal a Supreme Court decision. They're the final authority. The "high court" IS the Supreme Court.

        • by Macgrrl ( 762836 )

          I'd need to go look it up, but I thought you could dispute a High Court ruling to the Privy Council in the UK.

    • The high court's own website says "to decide cases of special federal significance including challenges to the constitutional validity of laws and to hear appeals" []
    • Also people arguing against reality.

  • All it will take is a dubious copyright or patent claim against Linux get someone's connection cut. Make no bones about it: AFACT has been much more organised and persuasive than the RIAA & MPAA and too are attempting to force ISP's to do their dirty work for them.
  • iiNet (Score:5, Insightful)

    by liamoshan ( 1283930 ) on Friday August 12, 2011 @02:53AM (#37065744)
    This is why I've been a a happy customer of iiNet for nearly a decade

    When AFACT wanted ISP's to pass on copyright infringement notices to their users, Telstra, Optus etc were happy to roll over and do as they were told. iiNet effectively said "If you have proof of a crime being commited, take it up with the police. We're not here to have our customers harassed just because you say so". AFACT took exception to this, hence this trial

  • I see a lot of over-reactions here. Just because the High Court has agreed to hear the trial does NOT mean that the outcome will be any different this time. IANAL, but AFACT's claim seems like absolute bullshit. From Copyright Act 1968 []:

    A person (including a carrier or carriage service provider) who provides facilities for making, or facilitating the making of, a communication is not taken to have authorised any infringement of copyright in a work merely because another person uses the facilities so provided to do something the right to do which is included in the copyright.

    That seems like some pretty strong legalese in favour of iiNet.

    • by wdef ( 1050680 )
      But the Copyright Act is not the Constitution. Isn't the whole point of going to the High Court is that they have the power to overwrite lesser statutory law?
      • by wdef ( 1050680 )
        .. and the decisions of lower courts of course.
      • by qxcv ( 2422318 )

        Copypasted from Wikipedia []:

        The High Court's appellate jurisdiction is defined under Section 73 of the Constitution. The High Court can hear appeals from the Supreme Courts of the States, from any federal court or court exercising federal jurisdiction (such as the Federal Court of Australia), and from decisions made by one or more Justices exercising the original jurisdiction of the court.

        It seems that the High Court was originally reserved for matters pertaining to the Constitution and Commonwealth offices, but now has a much larger jurisdiction. Of course, IANAL, so can anybody confirm/deny/correct this?

      • Only if AFACT's lawyers are actually challenging iiNet on something in the Constitution though. That is, AFACT would somehow have to argue that that provision from the Copyright Act is somehow unconstitutional, which seems a very long bow to draw. I suspect therefore that this case is just a standard appeal to the High Court on some other legal matter, not a Constitutional one.

        Then again I haven't actually read the previous cases or the article so I could just be wrong. I just have a gut feel the Constituti

        • Re:Nonsense (Score:5, Funny)

          by QuantumG ( 50515 ) * <> on Friday August 12, 2011 @05:59AM (#37066428) Homepage Journal

          I'm totally ignorant of the issues but I still have an opinion.. welcome, this is what Slashdot is for :)

          • by Anonymous Coward

            I'm totally ignorant of the issues but I still have an opinion.. welcome, this is what Slashdot is for :)

            Well yes, but you post failed to voice that opinion loudly.
            You are also supposed to just guess what the TFA and TFS says by only reading the headline and then complain that the TFS doesn't say the same thing as the TFA and that both were written by morons.

        • I have a feeling AFACTs argument might go something like " summing up its the constitution, its Mabo, its justice, its law its the vibe and thats it, its the vibe"
  • Illegal file sharing is copyright INFRINGEMENT, not theft! - Get it right, people! Or are you too stupid to get it?

    • by qxcv ( 2422318 )

      Every time somebody uses the word "copyright" to refer to the copyrighted work itself, I die a little inside...

    • by Pieroxy ( 222434 )

      Care to explain the difference? In my view, it is the same.

      Theft - take something from someone. For example, take an iPhone. The owner is deprived of his property while the thief benefits from the property against the will of its (former) owner.

      Copyright infringement: Deprive the copyright owner of his right to distribute his material as he see fit. The owner is deprived of his right, the thief benefits from the material against the will of its copyright owner.

      Very close in my book. YMMV.

      • I don't think it's a very good way to describe it because the situations are quite different. Typically, when someone thinks of theft, they probably think of the loss of physical property, not the loss of a mere idea (or a "right").

        And you've just deprived someone of the ability to believe that copyright infringement isn't the exact same thing as theft! You thief!

      • by Professr3 ( 670356 ) on Friday August 12, 2011 @03:54AM (#37065946)
        The copyright owner still has the right to distribute his material as he sees fit. You're merely obtaining the material through a side channel. Do you think the copyright owner wakes up one morning and says, "Gee, I'd really like to sell this material to you, but someone downloaded it on the internet. This means I no longer have rights to distribute my material, so I can't sell it to you. Sorry! Woe is me!"

        That doesn't mean "copyright infringement" is a good thing, but you're going to have to come up with a better argument than that.
        • by Pieroxy ( 222434 )

          The copyright fdoesn't gives you the right to distribute, it gives you THE EXCLUSIVITY to distribute. When some random dude download your stuff and distribute it for free, he doesn't deprive you of the exclusivity? How can you view it that way?

          • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) *

            Heard of the first sale doctrine? Hint, copyright is about copying.

          • by Dog-Cow ( 21281 )

            Once you exercise your right to exclusivity (i.e. you give someone a copy), you have lost your exclusivity, according to your reasoning. If you think about it a little, you will realize that it doesn't matter how a second party obtains a copy; the exclusivity is the same.

          • Another thing to think about: Let's say some random dude downloads a content provider's work, and, by your argument, deprives said provider of exclusivity. At that point, the exclusivity is gone, so what further crime remains if *I* download the work?

            Are you going to make the case for "levels of exclusivity"? If so, how will you objectively define those levels, and how many copies will it take to get to "level zero"?
      • actually, the right is to STOP others from producing COPIES of a work without the copyright holder's permission. What happens with copyright infringement is that someone produces copies without the holder's permission. They are NOT deprived of that work or even the rights to that work, but instead, have had that right INFRINGED upon.

        If you absolutely need to fall back on a comparison to physical property violations, it's much more like trespassing, but it's much better to consider it on it's own merits
        • by Pieroxy ( 222434 )

          If society decides to give someone the exclusivity to something, and then a bunch of dudes do the thing anyways, you're saying the owner still has the exclusivity on that thing? How twisted is that?

          • If someone trespasses on your land (and thus violates your right to exclude), do you lose your ability to stop other people from trespassing on your land?
      • Bringing your own drink into a movie theater deprives the management from its right to sell you stuff, and benefits from the movie which is subsidized by those side profits. Even if you paid for the movie, you get it cheaper than someone who bought the drink.

        I guess that's theft too?

      • by Sique ( 173459 )

        If I build an identical house than you have, I don't steal your house.
        If I buy an identical car than you have, I don't steal your car.
        If I wear identical clothes than you, I don't steal your clothes.
        If I copy your book line by line, I don't steal your book.

        Just because some act damages your financial outcome, it's not automatically theft.
        Just because some act gets me value, and deprives you of value, it's not automatically theft.

        If I walk through your garden and thus disturb your privacy, I don't steal your

        • by Pieroxy ( 222434 )

          The usual argument is that infringement is not theft because it doesn't deprive the IP owner of anything. I'm merely trying to point out that it's not true.

          • by Sique ( 173459 )

            The main difference for me is that something that was stolen can used by the new owner the same way than the old, rightful owner could have used it.
            If I steal a car, I can drive it as its rightful owner could drive it. If I steal money, I can go shopping or put it in a savings account as the rightful owner could have done.
            But if I infringe on someone's copyright by unlicensed copying, I can not use it as the copyright holder could. I can not sublicense it for instance.
            There are types of copyright infringeme

      • Copyright infringement: Deprive the copyright owner of his right to distribute his material as he see fit.

        Isn't that really just "deprive the copyright owner of the ability to deprive others of the ability to copy information" ? Either way, it's not a right since the government isn't a party to the transaction, merely an arbiter. It's just a simple law, not all laws are rights.

    • Illegal file sharing is copyright INFRINGEMENT, not theft!

      What are you, a troll? Nobody mentioned theft until you came along. I just browsed at -1 to make sure I didn't miss something, but only occurence of the word happened in the thread that you started. It wasn't in the article and it wasn't in the original submission.

      So what possessed you to become so indignant about the term?

    • Yes, people DO get it. Now do you get that people use the word theft because they wish to stretch the definition of the word for whatever reason (exaggeration, to empathize, emotional appeal, belief that copyright violation deprive enough to equal theft, etc). It's not a case of stupidity, just yet another case of where language is perhaps too mutable.

  • RIAA gets their way, ISPs forced to shut down from substantial losses.

    • if AFACT gets some kind of win in the High Court, the best it can hope for is the challenged legal issue to go back to the Supreme Court in WA for further consideration. Likelihood of the entire case being thrown out is is highly unlikely in the extreme given that it has passed muster at trial and at appeal.
  • The people who can have their internet connection ended without trial are of course no party in such cases. Silly me. How could they?
    • by Cimexus ( 1355033 ) on Friday August 12, 2011 @04:19AM (#37066052)

      No ... there ARE no victims ... yet. That's what the case is about.

      AFACT tried to make iiNet disconnect its users. iiNet refused (hence no victims). AFACT took iiNet to court. If iiNet lose, then yes there may be victims in the future. But as of yet, the end users of iiNet's service haven't suffered anything and hence aren't party to the case.

  • by freman ( 843586 )

    How much money have they wasted on this... how much money has it got them back?

    • AFACT hasn't waisted any of their own money. All of it, so far, has been tax payer funded. If they loose this, the MAFIAA will have to pay.

  • by Janacek ( 925490 ) on Friday August 12, 2011 @04:50AM (#37066180)
    The last judgment against AFACT in the case against iiNet was explained very well by the judge in charge of that trial. This just goes to show that the music industry and the movie industry are desperate to protect their tenuous hold on the music and movie distribution business and have the money to fight all the way to the top.
  • I thought Australia was already AFACT's bitch. Maybe I'm just being profetic, er whatever it is called.

The absent ones are always at fault.