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US Embassy Sanctioned Lawsuit Against Aussie ISP iiNet 263

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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  • by unity100 ( 970058 ) on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @09:47PM (#38814103) Homepage Journal

    So, american embassies are MPAA's bitches ?

  • by wierd_w ( 1375923 ) on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @09:50PM (#38814131)

    No, the US govt is the MPAA's bitch.
    The US embassy serves the US govt.

    As such, the MPAA's cozy relationship with US politicians permits these sorts of things.

    No quid pr quo my hairy white ass.

  • by zAPPzAPP ( 1207370 ) on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @09:55PM (#38814189)

    Passing laws backed by the MPAA is usually a detriment to the victim country's economy (as seen with SOPA) and the quality of life in that country for it's citizens, which will make them unhappy with their government (as rising anger about these laws indicates).

    As such it can be seen as economic and political sabotage of foreign countries.

    For the US embassy to take part in that, couldn't this seen as a hostile act by the victim country?

  • by AnotherAnonymousUser ( 972204 ) on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @10:06PM (#38814265)
    Asking a question for the community here: how did Hollywood get the kind of power and leverage that it has? As a major source of media I can see how it would be valued by government but the stories you hear these days of the lobbying power and secret international cables that surface make it seem like they are constantly overstepping the norms of most other industries.

    How did it get to the state that it's now, and why is government working so hard to protect media interests internationally so often? Is it the size of Hollywood and consequent lobbying power, a belief that Hollywood is a/the important industry to protect, or something else? Hollywood seems to receive the most benefit from all copyright laws and protections, so how did they get to this amount of power that they can exert this much control over legislation? Even in the old days I know they had the ratings boards that could strong arm quite a lot of policies.

    If anyone has any good histories to relate here or relevant anecdotes, please post below!
  • by wierd_w ( 1375923 ) on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @10:14PM (#38814335)

    I would say its worse than that.

    I live in the US. Our major exports are IP (movies, recordings, blueprints, and software all together in one group), raw food stuffs, military equipment/aviation goodies, and bad legislation.

    Eg, other than corrupt factory farm operations, (why's the park smell so stinky mommy? That's just the columbia meat packing plant on the hill dear.) And aerospace + military industrial (lockheed martin, boeing, and pals), intellectual property is about the only relevant industry the US has, other than bullshit like the bank and loan infrastructure.

    This is why politicians are all too happy to take bribes err.... "campaign contributions" from those industries, and why they are treated like sacred cows in terms of regulatory compliance issues, and in terms of getting carte blanc with proposing legislation.

    The US is anemic as hell. My government knows it. They want golden parachutes for when the shit hits, so they stay cuddly with multinationals.

  • by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @10:19PM (#38814367)

    Even better, Australia needs to throw out the US embassies in their country and cut off diplomatic ties. All the other developed nations should do the same, until we can get our act together.

  • Role of Mark Arbib? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @10:29PM (#38814425)

    And what role did Mark Arbib play? He is an Australian senator, who is essentially a US spy. The wikileaks cables have revealed that he is in the habit of revealing secret information to the US embassy, to the extent that that the US assigned him a code name as an informant. Has Arbib been behind the scenes doing the MPAA/US government's bidding, shoring up sympathy in the Australian government?

  • by EdIII ( 1114411 ) on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @10:37PM (#38814475)

    You guys have it all backwards.

    Neither the US embassies, or the US govt is the MPAA's bitches. There is lobbying (read corruption) at play certainly with Senators, which generally as a rule, tend to be complete whores. You tell them this is the dick (the law written by the lobbyists), and to suck it (make it the law), the only thing they ask, "What do I get paid?". Senators do this because it is how they hold on to power, and enjoy the benefits that their positions provide.

    One of the reasons why all the branches of government seem to be so willing to cooperate with the MAFIAA is that Intellectual Property and the economic considerations surrounding it are excellent means to camouflage a darker purpose:

    More power and tools to the Intelligence Community.

    Check out the members of the Intelligence Committee, both former and active. Most are supporters of SOPA, I think only a few have switched sides, and the most "vocal" opponent on the Intelligence Committee is Wyden. That Senator is just the Plan B with his own bill to accomplish the same thing.

    Don't confuse a momentary alliance on the part of the US Govt as them being bitches. Government are made up of people, and these people only do what is in their best interests, which often coincide with the interests of the groups they are representing. Whether it be Big Pharma, Military-Industrial Complex, etc.

    It has been in the best interests since even before the Cold War began for America to be able to monitor its dissidents (as determined by those people) as closely as possible. See Hoover for references.

    Laws disguised as protecting American jobs and the oh-so-poor artists coincidentally give the Intelligence Community a mandate to do even more by proxy then before, and with less legal resistance on the part of the technology sectors.

    It's not a coincidence. A truly free Internet does nothing for the Intelligence Community, and they do in fact, see it as a threat.

  • by wierd_w ( 1375923 ) on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @10:54PM (#38814603)

    Time for some Peabody's improbable history, so step into the wayback machine Sherman, and let's look at the US as it was 100 years ago.

    In 1912, the US was a heavily invested industrial nation, specializing in steel, oil refinement, textiles, industrial machinery, and scientific advancements. It had reached this status through the addage "you get what you pay for", and "the american way." (Which back then meant taking pride in your work, producing only quality goods, and being judged by the quality of your work and of your word. This motif was euphamistically referred to as free market capitalism, since it relied on heavy competition between stakeholders to provide only the finest goods at prices that were reasonable, and the buyers bought for quality and durability. Your products directly influenced your brand's desirability.)

    Over the course of the next 30 to 40 years, these industries vied heavily with one another, eliminating competition, and then reached a certain threshold where they realized that competing with one another was counter productive to producing profits. This is pre rico act, pre sherman act. These idustries had established a thriving local enconomy based on quality goods, which people had become accustomed to buying, and which had greatly improved the quality of living of their native demographic populations. As such, worker wages had gone up, unions had formed, and other "this hurts our profits" influences surfaced. (Additionally, the depression caused many contenders to go under, allowing for a "land grab" by the survivors, accellerating the development of the oligopoly.)

    At first, these companies agreed to not poach each other's profits through initiating pricewars, and instead agreed that they would increase the wealth of their directors and financiers through the reduction of quality in the merchandise produced. As quality dropped, the need for employees that had grown up on an ethic for perfection waned, and with that, the ethic itself also waned. Eventually, the only real characteristic that differentiated a us worker from a cheap foriegn one was the price of employment.

    Skip ahead another 30 to 40 years, after the momentary military industrial booms of the 30s and 40s, to the 60s and 70s. "Deregulation" was the buzzword. Restrictions that had been put in place to protect american citizens from corporate interests were discarded like used toilet paper. Trade tarrifs dropped like sleezy curtains at a peep show. Outsourcing began.

    Over the next 30 to 40 years, most of america's manufacturing industry had flown the coop, electing to capitalize on the post free love generation's niavite' and inherited buying power with cheaply made foreign built products. Buying american made started getting much much harder. Even commodity items like clothes and shoes couldn't compete with the cheaper, and often inferior foriegn labor that was made protiable by dropping the trade tarrif walls. The old vangard of US corporate power had officially left the US.

    In the wake of the second world war, the US motion picture and recording industries sprang into being, thanks to the developments in film and radio technologies, coupled with the obvious propoganda potentials of those mediums. In the ww2 and post era, these industries flourished while the old industrial center declined. The US work ethic had diminished to such an extent by the 60s, that entertainment and pleasure were basically the primary motivational force in people's lives. The idolization of hollywood actors and actresses really came alive. This generation was blinded by hollywood and television, greedily assimilated the "disposable goods" philosophy, and the media industry grew like crazy. (There is no coincidence that this is the golden age of filmography and music in the US. The vast majority of holdings of those industries were created during this time frame. It was a perfect storm for the entertainment industry.) During this time, the technology to really export entertainment to other countries came into

  • It's worse than that (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tick-tock-atona ( 1145909 ) on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @10:55PM (#38814617)

    According to documents released under Freedom of Information [], the Attorney-General wants a "solution" to "be educative and aim to change the social norms."

    That's right. They want to force "education" onto the population to make them want to prop up the content industry's failing business models.

    Of course, only industry groups were invited to this meeting []. I have to say, Ludlam is the reason that I voted greens in the last election.

  • Re:Right on time! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by grcumb ( 781340 ) on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @10:59PM (#38814647) Homepage Journal

    (sound of crickets)

    Well, I don't know about Perth, but in Ballarat last week, Ben Powell delivered an excellent run-down on the status of the AFACT v iiNet case [] to a fairly large and very interested audience.

  • by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @11:11PM (#38814745)

    Yep, our tanks are massive gas guzzlers. Those gas turbine engines are kinda cool in that they can run on just about anything, but then they need so much of it that it kinda negates the advantage, unless you happen to be operating those tanks in the middle east right next door to where the oil is being pumped out of the ground.

    You can probably get much more cost-effective military hardware from the UK. I used to watch your TV show "Sea Patrol" and they had a really nice UK-made cannon on the patrol boat that could lock on targets with high accuracy even in high seas. Not a bad show; certainly much better than the rubbish we make over here. You should export more of your TV to us. Of course, with so many of us watching crap like The Kardashians and Jerry Springer, even something fairly lowbrow like Sea Patrol would still be way too highbrow for us.

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

    by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @11:18PM (#38814803)
    We're used to it - we had a bumbling crop of idiots from the bottom of the US intelligence barrel expose themselves as attempting to remove the leader of Australia in 1975 when he was not only doomed anyway but also had demonstrated that he would roll over and do whatever the USA said (eg. East Timor, US listening posts) with nothing more than a grumble. The only consequences of that were some CIA guys using that as an excuse to sell secrets to the USSR, a movie based roughly on the court case after they were convicted, and a quite decent song by David Bowie.
    We know the USA does this sort of stuff. Every few years it inspires a few people to gather outside the US consultate and yell a lot, but mostly we just accept it as part of being an ally of the USA and the nature of portions of the US government being for sale to the highest bidder. East Timor is right on our doorstep so we've got a pretty good reminder that even a President (eg. Ford) can be bought out even by a foreign power (eg. the HUGE donation to the Republican party by the Indonesian President on the day of the invasion and Ford going to Jakarta personally to accept it).
    So yes. We're the bitch of the USA, but the USA at times is the bitch of whoever wants to buy your government even if it is a foreign power. I'll bet Rupert Murdoch has bought a few major changes himself.
  • by Ethanol-fueled ( 1125189 ) on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @11:19PM (#38814807) Homepage Journal
    The military is not the problem, I imagine that most will not participate but rather join the resistance.

    What we have to worry about is the militarization of existing police forces and the rise of private security companies authorized to operate inside the U.S. There are large numbers of people who blindly obey anything authority tells them (thank you childhood-indoctrinated religion!) and will act as a snitch network of saboteurs alongside private military and the members of police forces who decided to turn traitor. People who look the slightest bit suspicious or out-of-place would be disappeared overnight.

    What is going on now is that all of the groundwork is being laid for the "Homeland Security" complex to be able to "manage disasters." They feed us with bullshit like "hurricanes" and "terrorist attacks," but their focus has unsurprisingly shifted towards the "lone wolf" terrorist - former soldiers who have witnessed their friends being turned into hamburger now have to come home to being groped up by TSA pigs and stopped at highway checkpoints(like those won't bring back memories of the war and trigger PTSD symptoms...).

    Legislation and political action are doing nothing for the common citizen. If things don't change and continue to get worse, I'll wager that the shit will hit the fan before 2020, and sooner than that if another false-flag attack happens. We could probably even see certain coastal states attempt to secede from the union.
  • Yep..... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NetNed ( 955141 ) on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @11:23PM (#38814845)
    Then you have Pres. Obama throwing in to tonight's State of The Union that "It’s not right when another country lets "OUR" movies, music, and software be pirated".

    All fits the bill of our politicians being lap dogs for media makers and that things like SOPA and PIPA need to be continued to be rallied against because they are trying still going to try and push them through.
  • by wierd_w ( 1375923 ) on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @11:42PM (#38814979)

    But other than weapons grade items (bombs, rifles, other killing appliances) and highly regulated products (aviation, automotive) can you name a single us made durable good that is world renouned for quality?

    It used to be that many products were known that way.

  • by Capsaicin ( 412918 ) * on Tuesday January 24, 2012 @11:47PM (#38815007)

    As you guys keep outsourcing it won't be long before there isn't anything we want to buy from the USA.

    We will be still importing billions of aussies worth of US intellectual property (regardless of which manufacturer in which country is collecting it from us). The US govt realised in the 1980s the their manufacturing exports were doomed. Their future would be software and entertainment. That is why the US govt has been so fussed about setting up an international IP regime which they control. That is what the US embassy is doing here trying to hijack Australian common law.

  • by wierd_w ( 1375923 ) on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @12:14AM (#38815195)

    Also, read their abridged company history, then contrast to my quick and dirty improbable history. []

    Note, it is a relic from the 1950s, post military industrial boom. It is a relic from the durable goods era, and predates the disposable goods era. Rather than leave the us, it expanded into a niche market and stayed there.

  • by Karmashock ( 2415832 ) on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @12:42AM (#38815337)

    It seems like five seconds after you tell them anything it becomes international news.

    Remember that pakistani group that wanted to form an alliance with the US to squeeze out the military faction? Well, they're all running for their lives now because the instant they told the US State Department it was all over the nightly news.

    Forget the issue of the moment here, what we're looking at is a state department leaking everything they're given.

    That means it's impossible to conduct diplomacy with the US. THAT is a much bigger problem then some stupid MPAA conspiracy to create a precedent in Australia.

    State Department needs to get their shit together now. I don't know who's fault this is and I don't care. It doesn't matter. Fix it.

  • Re:Right on time! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ignavus ( 213578 ) on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @02:32AM (#38815853)

    How many Aussies will take to the streets after reading this? Ehhhh... there's one! Oh, that's just a pedestrian... how about that one?!! Nope. Going to his car.

    Like most Australians, I don't live anywhere near Perth. However, I did recently switch to iiNet as my ISP, and its fight against the Powers of Darkness has made me very pleased with the switch - aside from the fact that they are a good ISP in general. I feel like I am backing the right crowd.

    iiNet has been winning in court so far, so being their customer and recommending them to other people is a practical way of supporting them.

  • by hitmark ( 640295 ) on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @06:50AM (#38816753) Journal

    I could have sworn that UK tried, and failed, this back in the 1800s or so.

  • by jimrthy ( 893116 ) on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @11:10AM (#38818149) Homepage Journal

    I'm a registered Republican. I'm more likely to vote Republican than Democrat. I absolutely despise Obama. I am absolutely furious that people like you made me try to pick between him and McCain last time (for the record, as bad as Obama is, I still believe McCain would have been worse).

    I am very seriously looking at finding another country to live in because it looks like idiots like you are going to nominate either Romney or Gingrich. Santorum I could understand. At least he looks like he has meaningful differences with Obama, if you aren't paying much attention.

"The number of Unix installations has grown to 10, with more expected." -- The Unix Programmer's Manual, 2nd Edition, June, 1972