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A comic written by AFACT warns children of the dangers of piracy.  (Source: AFACT)
Yesterday was a bitter one for Australia's piracy opponents

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), the parent organization of the RIAA, and assorted motion picture copyright organizations worldwide (such as the MPAA) have over the last decade has been trying to combat piracy worldwide.  The organizations have seen different degrees of success in different nations.  Some nations have largely refused to let their citizens be policed by copyright organization lawyers.  Others, though, like France and Britain have embraced the efforts so thoroughly, that they have pending legislation that could force internet service provider to terminate paying customers that fileshare copyrighted works.

Another nation that was thought to be rather pro-copyright holders was Australia.  Australia also mulled over "three strikes" legislation in recent years, which would take filesharers offline.  However, a key Australian court ruling has changed all of that, essentially killing a major avenue of the copyright enforcers' efforts in the country.

The case began with the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (a motion picture copyright protection organization) filing suit against internet service provider iiNet, trying to secure a ruling to force it to police its network for filesharing and warn and/or disconnect violators. 

A landmark decision was delivered on Thursday morning by the Australian Federal Court (similar to the U.S. Supreme Court), covered live on Twitter (the first Australian federal case to be covered by the microblogging service).  In the end, Justice Dennis Cowdroy struck a major blow against the copyright protection organizations, ruling that the ISP had not "authorised" its customers' infringement by ignoring thousands of letters from AFACT.

He said that iiNet was merely providing customers a service (internet) and it was not the company's fault if customers abused it, using Bittorrent or other filesharing technologies.  He stated, "iiNet is not responsible if an iiNet user uses that system to bring about copyright infringement … the law recognises no positive obligation on any person to protect the copyright of another."

Tony Joyner, a partner in the technology and IT group at Australian law firm Freehills says that the decision brought an intriguing end to an interesting case.  He describes, "Everything iiNet says is rational.  They're saying we're just a simple conduit and if people are doing bad things it's not up to us to be the police. The studios are also being very rational and saying it's happening on your turf, so we need you to do something."

The effects of the decision may be multifold.  Sabiene Heindl, general manager of the music industry's anti-piracy arm, Music Industry Piracy Investigations (an IFPI child org.) threatens, "Today's Federal Court decision suggests that copyright owners broadly may have no choice but to sue individuals for illegal file-sharing. This would be a most unfortunate outcome."

Still, suing individuals would be much less cost effective to the music and movie studios than merely securing legislation forcing ISPs to ban filesharers.  As Australia has a system of checks and balances, the copyright organizations could still pour their money into lobbying Australian legislators to push through legislation reversing the court verdict.  They also have up to 21 days to appeal the verdict.

The Australian decision is of significant interest to the United States' own piracy debate.  In the U.S. the cost of lawsuits has forced the RIAA and MPAA to scale back their legal campaigns against individual citizens.  However, they did secure an ally in America's third largest broadband provider, Verizon.  Verizon recently began sending warning letters to customers who fileshare to "educate" them on the dangers.

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what a concept
By tastyratz on 2/5/2010 9:01:09 AM , Rating: 5
making someone else's problem not your problem... what a concept. If only the burden was placed squarely on the plaintiff in other countries too. The RIAA/etc. would have to wipe their OWN ass for once.

RE: what a concept
By MozeeToby on 2/5/2010 10:00:50 AM , Rating: 4
Agree with the sentiment, but you should realize that this ruling puts the Australian ISP's at the same level of responsibility that the US ISP have had for years. They can still sue individuals, and that is in fact what they plan on doing. Still a win in my opinion, better that they sue individuals than ISPs start monitoring every packet that they send and recieve (not that that would stop file sharing anyway, unless you also make encryption illegal).

RE: what a concept
By amanojaku on 2/5/2010 10:04:19 AM , Rating: 2
There's just one problem with that. How does the RIAA/IFPI know WHO traded copyrighted works without the ISP's help? Let's say the RIAA actually used "P2P app of your choice" to find file sharers. All you'd get are files and IPs. What good is an IP address if you don't have someone to map it to? That's where the ISP comes in.

I don't agree with the retarded judgments handed down to Jaimme Thomas and that other guy, but I don't agree that pirates should be allowed to do whatever they want, either. The problem is Internet anonymity makes it hard to pin anything on anyone. You have proof of the misdeed, but you don't know who did it. Either we let pirates get away with stealing and/or sharing, or we give copyright holders some measure of protection. $222K or $1.9M for 24 songs isn't protection, however; it's extortion.

RE: what a concept
By nshoe on 2/5/2010 10:35:13 AM , Rating: 3
They will probably have to do what they currently do in the states. They file what are called John Doe lawsuits - they have to track down what information they can get, including proof that a crime has been committed, file a lawsuit, then get a subpoena to have the user identified.

RE: what a concept
By Lerianis on 2/5/2010 6:19:55 PM , Rating: 2
Some people have been saying that those 'John Doe' lawsuits are not legal however, and a lot of courts have cast leery eyes on them while not daring to totally ban them.

RE: what a concept
By DopeFishhh on 2/7/2010 7:51:37 AM , Rating: 2
Can someone actually explain to me what evidence the RIAA/MPAA actually present to the court to say that you've been naughty. If it's merely IP logs from their end that really doesn't do a damned thing in my mind to say that a copyrighted file was ever transferred to/from my computer.

To actually prove it to me they'd need to show me my hard drive with the files present but if I was an illegal file sharer I'd delete those files the moment I received the extortion letter.

RE: what a concept
By mcnabney on 2/5/2010 10:35:41 AM , Rating: 2
A key problem with electronic enforcement is sheer efficiency in production. It works great when distributing information or processing orders, but when turned to law enforcement it could lead to massive enforcement.
For example - lets say every car in the nation could be tracked at all times and every incident of traffic violation (speeding, not coming to a complete stop at an intersection...) would be tabulated and a fine assessed. Nearly every driver would receive fines in the millions. The current system allows for selective and judgemental enforcement only. An all encompassing approach would scream 'Big Brother' and likely lead to massive citizen pushback.

RE: what a concept
By jdietz on 2/5/2010 11:00:34 AM , Rating: 4
What do you call speed cameras? "Citizen pushback" hasn't stopped those.

RE: what a concept
By TETRONG on 2/5/2010 1:09:38 PM , Rating: 4
We should take those down. They're dangerous and they violate privacy. No one agreed to have their picture taken. I say we start by putting hoods on them.

RE: what a concept
By erple2 on 2/5/2010 1:40:08 PM , Rating: 2
The standard response is that the cameras can only photograph the automobile. It says nothing about the individual driving the car (which would violate one's privacy). The tickets that they issue are "pointless" (in more way than one) that are given to the owner of the vehicle, much like parking violations. The result is that a crime can only be committed by an individual, not by one's car.

I disagree that speed cameras in the US violate privacy.

RE: what a concept
By JediJeb on 2/5/2010 2:04:25 PM , Rating: 4
While I don't like government sticking their nose into my business while I am obeying the laws, saying speed cameras violate privacy does not make sense to me. It is like saying the killing someone is legal as long as noone see you do it. The cameras only take a photo when they sense a vehicle is traveling above the speed limit, therefore the driver of the vehicle is violating the law and in making the decision to violate the law they have in a sense forfeited their right to privacy.

Reminds me of an incident that happened near me recently, where a guy was stealing power cables and selling the copper in them. They guy trespasses on the property of a coal mine, tries to use an axe to cut a power cable lying on the ground. Turns out the power cable was 880 volts and attached to a huge electric powered excavator. The guy lost his legs from the burns he got from the cable. Then tried to sue the mining company because of his injuries. To me once he made the decision to break the law and steal the cable, he forfeited his rights to protection from injury.

RE: what a concept
By PlasmaBomb on 2/8/2010 10:40:01 AM , Rating: 1
So what was the outcome of the case?

RE: what a concept
By foolsgambit11 on 2/8/2010 7:57:40 PM , Rating: 2
It's simpler than that. You are on a public road. There is no reasonable expectation of privacy on a public thoroughfare. Your license plate is there for a reason - to publicly identify your car (and its registration) in case of an illegal action. Whether a person or a camera records your plates doesn't matter.

RE: what a concept
By RobertAnderson on 2/5/2010 3:02:38 PM , Rating: 2
I am not sure where you are that the camera's only take a picture of the car. Here in Arizona they take a picture of the driver and passengers. Though when the ticket is sent they blur the passengers. I have heard of a couple cases where husbands got in trouble because you could identify it was a woman in the passenger seat.

In AZ it is just fee if you get caught by the photo radars. The owner of the vehicle is held responable unless you tell the court who the driver of the vehicle is.

RE: what a concept
By iamezza on 2/5/2010 2:57:47 PM , Rating: 5
The reason why is because too many people have been brainwashed by the government into thinking that the only reason we have speed cameras is to reduce speeding and accidents/deaths resulting from it.

Not enough people realise the real reason for the cameras, that is, the government can seen to be doing something about road deaths whilst at the same time expending no effort and generating revenue at the same time. Problem is they do absolutely nothing to reduce road deaths. Only real initiatives which cost money could do anything about the road toll.

RE: what a concept
By icanhascpu on 2/12/2010 11:30:27 AM , Rating: 2
Only on DT would this get a 5. Just a bunch of hearsay and conspiracy theory. No cites, nothing to back it up. If its anti Apple or anti government, rate it up.

I'm all for apple being less shallow. I'm all for less government corruption, but we don't need to fabricate things and promote that fabrication, we lose sight of real problems.

RE: what a concept
By iamezza on 2/5/2010 3:07:04 PM , Rating: 2
The reason why is because too many people have been brainwashed by the government into thinking that the only reason we have speed cameras is to reduce speeding and accidents/deaths resulting from it.

Not enough people realise the real reason for the cameras, that is, the government can seen to be doing something about road deaths whilst at the same time expending no effort and generating revenue at the same time. Problem is they do absolutely nothing to reduce road deaths. Only real initiatives which cost money could do anything about the road toll.

RE: what a concept
By lightfoot on 2/5/2010 4:02:02 PM , Rating: 2
say every car in the nation could be tracked at all times and every incident of traffic violation (speeding, not coming to a complete stop at an intersection...) would be tabulated and a fine assessed. Nearly every driver would receive fines in the millions.

You honestly think that it is impossible to obey the traffic laws? That's insane. In a hypothetical scenario as you mentioned something truly amazing would occur. People would start obeying the traffic laws. The only reason so many people violate traffic laws today is because those laws are largely unenforced, and the small risk of a ticket isn't worth the inconvenience of driving 5-10 MPH slower and coming to a complete stop at stop signs. If people actually thought the law would be enforced, you can be sure that all the laws would be obeyed by most drivers.

RE: what a concept
By eachus on 2/6/2010 9:58:18 AM , Rating: 2
You honestly think that it is impossible to obey the traffic laws? That's insane.
No, right now what is insane are many local speed limits. In some cases, state laws as well. For example, in Massachusetts, the law provides one maximum limit for rural roads, and another for built up areas. To the extent that you may run into that law cutting the speed limit almost in half because the density of housing is slightly over the limit, I have never seen or heard of anyone getting a ticket. Unless, of course, the lower limit is posted. If strictly enforced, there would be some roads designed for 50 mph or higher speeds with a drop to a 30 mph limit for a couple of hundred yards every few miles. And of course, the rule in the law is easy enough to calculate given Google Maps, but not when you are driving. One house, not visible from the road can change the limit.

But that is not a big deal if you drive in Massachusetts. The problem is that local towns can set different limits, post them, and enforce them, on both state highways and local roads. For one job I had, I went through 47 changes in posted limits in less than 15 miles, including one where the limit dropped from 45 to 30 halfway down a steep hill. (That is where the town line was. :-( Once I learned the route I could stay within the limits. However, one day there was a detour around resurfacing on a side road. They lowered the speed limit on the detour, including on a straight section of Route 113. In effect, I read the detour sign, realized it didn't apply to me, and didn't notice the (orange) speed limit sign that matched the Route 117 detour sign. Of course, I got stopped.

Note that the details of the detour, and the dates had been prominently displayed on that same sign for over a week--but not that the speed limit would change on the main road. :-( I got a warning, and the real reason for the speed limit change was to cover work vehicles entering and leaving the main road. (Which the weren't when I got stopped.) So the limit change was reasonable, and I probably would have slowed down if there were construction vehicles visible--they were at the other end of the section being repaved.

Once we have cars that drive themselves, and get up to date information on the laws--and on traffic--electronically, will it be possible to eliminate human judgment from the enforcement process.

As for the privacy implications of law-enforcement cameras, get over it. Today such cameras cost, with installation, thousands of dollars. In a few years though, the cost of a surveillance plus recording a day or so of coverage, and software that focuses on faces and records them at high resolution will be in the noise compared to putting up a street light--or an external light on your driveway. For that matter, your car will need sensors to drive itself. Are any resulting records subject to subpoena? So expect privacy in private, and not in public, and hope that the laws and law enforcement get it right. (Well, there are organizations like the EFF who are trying to help governments "get it," with respect to the clashes between technology and law. Supporting one whose views you agree with is a good use of your time and money.)

RE: what a concept
By drycrust3 on 2/6/2010 11:36:13 PM , Rating: 2
I don't agree that pirates should be allowed to do whatever they want, either

One of the big problems I see with the internet is that even something very simply like copying your statement (e.g. above) is subject to copyright. But who owns it? You? Jason Mick? DT? Mozilla Firefox? Ubuntu? I don't know. For the sake of argument, let's say it's DT, and say I want to use it for a major advertising campaign. Who do I pay? As Microsoft found out a few years ago when they got sued by an agency because they hadn't paid them billions of $$$ for selling software with mp3 capability, you have to pay EXACTLY the right people or there will be BIIIGGG trouble. Fortunately for us, Microsoft HAD paid EXACTLY the right people, but it is SOOOOOOO VERY EASY to get it wrong. And if you pay the wrong people, they won't turn up in court to defend you, they will just say "so long, and thanks for the dough", which leaves us having to pay the whole lot of copyright fees all over again, hopefully to the right crowd this time.
Which brings up another issue: with groceries or electricity or phones or car registration you know who to pay, but with copyright it seems to be pretty well anyone can claim copyright ownership. We even hear of artists who post original works on Youtube being accused of copyright infringement. They wrote, performed, filmed, whatever, all by themselves and they have to pay copyright to an agency who doesn't even know where they live. How stupid is that?
Then I had an idea: everyone pays an optional copyright fee to their ISP, who passes it on to the copyright people. That way, if there is any accidental copyright issues, then I'm covered. The copyright agencies then collect all this money and distribute it willy nilly as they see fit. If it's to their deserving artists or copyright holders, then that is good; if it's to themselves and their shareholders, then that isn't so good; if it's to their lawyers so they can have massive copyright infringement battles over minor legal technicalities and that take years to drag through the courts and wastes billions of dollars, then that is sad; but it keeps them happy and stops them bothering us.
So then if I get caught filesharing Ubuntu 9.10 or whatever, and I have paid the optional copyright fee, and some copyright agency decides I should have sort their permission instead of Canonical (or whoever) for doing it, then I am covered by this copyright fee. If I haven't paid the fee, then I take my chances with the legal system.

RE: what a concept
By Myg on 2/5/2010 5:36:09 PM , Rating: 2
Adam: But it was the woman's fault!
Eve: But it was the snake that tempted me...

Funny how some things never change

RE: what a concept
By drycrust3 on 2/7/2010 12:16:31 AM , Rating: 2
And the snake didn't have a leg to stand on.

RE: what a concept
By Camikazi on 2/7/2010 2:32:40 AM , Rating: 2

The australian supreme court is pretty wussy
By mcnabney on 2/5/2010 10:09:59 AM , Rating: 2
Did anyone else notice that the ruling by the Australian Supreme Court can be appealed? I would have thought that there was no appeal at that level.

By StevoLincolnite on 2/5/2010 10:42:21 AM , Rating: 2
The case happened in the Federal Courts, they will appeal and take it to the Supreme courts.

iiNet had massive backing from Telstra (Who have more lawyers than you can poke an LRM at. ~ See what I did there?), there customer base and practically the entire industry, and some government officials.

Hence the movie companies set themselves up for failure before they already started. (That and there was legislation passed a while back before the case started to try and help protect ISP's)

Personally iiNet (Also commonly known as iiBorg) shouldn't have been brought in this at all, this is mostly all about Torrents, and money, mostly money, money they "Might" be loosing because of the Mc' Pirates! ARRRG!!! (P.S, Avatar says different!)

RE: The australian supreme court is pretty wussy
By Helbore on 2/5/2010 3:06:52 PM , Rating: 2
But the article says that the Australian Federal Court is their equivalent of the US Supreme Court. Surely that means they are the highest authority?

By Justin Time on 2/5/2010 3:59:47 PM , Rating: 2
The article is wrong.

The Australian Federal Court is NOT comparable to the USA Supreme Court, but is more comparable to the USA Federal District Court.

The USA Supreme Court is more comparable to the Australian High Court, which usually only hears consitutional matters.

The High Court does have appellate jurisdiction over the Federal Court, but this is only by special leave, and so is rare.

Normally, decisions made by a single judge in the Australian Federal Court, are appealed to the Federal Court’s own Court of Appeals, where a panel of judges will review the decision.

However, the appeals court will *ONLY* hear appeals where it can be shown that the original decision was an error in law.

You can’t appeal by presenting new evidence, new witnesses, new anything. You have to convince the appeals court that the original judge didn’t know the law... which means that appeals are not taken lightly.

By Justin Time on 2/5/2010 4:17:44 PM , Rating: 2
The "Supreme" courts in Australia are state courts, and effectively subordinate to the Federal court.

The Federal court has its own court of appeals – the FULL Court - which can review decisions.

In special circumstances, the High Court can hear appeals of Federal court decisions, but it normally requires that it involves a constitutional issue.

The last court of resort in Australian law is rarely used – the Privy Council – which involved taking the case to England.

By maluminse on 2/6/2010 3:02:53 AM , Rating: 2
FYI appeals to the Privy Council are no longer possible in Australia since the Australia Acts in 1986. The High Court is the final court of appeal.

Adapt or die
By kroker on 2/5/2010 11:45:37 AM , Rating: 5
The content creators thought they found a sure way to suck money out of people's wallets: produce (worthless) media which is very easy and very low-cost to reproduce (in cinemas or on LPs, CDs, DVDs etc) and sell it to people. You don't have to sing all the songs each time you make a CD, or shoot the movie again for each DVD you make, you just record them once and then make millions of copies. Now, the same key thing that allowed them to make all of their profits (ease and very low cost of reproduction) has come back to bite them in the @ss, and now they think it's unfair. It's only fair when it works in their favor I guess.

To copy a tomato, you need to plant the seeds and it involves months of work and various costs. You can't go around that. To copy a movie or song takes hours/minutes/seconds and doesn't really involve any costs. I need the tomato because without food I'll die. I don't need movies or music at all to live or be happy. So, to all the content creators: what value are you selling to people with your content? You think you are improving their lives? Quite the opposite, instead of exercise, going out with friends, spending time with their children etc, they waste hours of their lives watching stupid movies full of violence, hate, sex, and retarded dreams that if your heart is in the right place and you want something really bad, you can achieve it (sometimes even without working hard to do so).

If you don't want people to copy your song or movie (please notice that I said COPY, not STEAL), then simply don't show it to anyone. Keep it for yourself. Put it in a vault, and no one will ever steal your precious creation. But the minute you're trying to sell to people something which is easy to reproduce and has no real value except for mild entertainment, then please don't whine like a baby when they reproduce it without paying you.

No pirate has ever stolen any song or movie. Metallica's songs are still Metallica's songs, not JoeThePirate's. They simply copied them, because the only thing which stood in their way was you saying "you're not allowed to do that".

All the DRMs and anti-piracy effors, and even copyright are just efforts to artificially trying to remove ease of reproduction for something which in this day and age is fundamentally the most reproducible thing possible: information. I'm sorry, content production in its current form is just not really a viable form of business. There, I said it. Content creators must adapt or die. They must stop trying to change the world to fit their needs, and need to adapt to our needs instead.

RE: Adapt or die
By Fitzmogwai on 2/5/10, Rating: -1
RE: Adapt or die
By UncleRufus on 2/5/2010 3:31:21 PM , Rating: 5
Musicians will make their money from performance, which is the way they've made a living for thousands of years. This phenomenon of taking a person with zero talent and turning them into a money machine is a recent one. Most performing musicians make their money by performing anyway. Why do you think you have these artists who sell millions of albums and then end up broke? The record companies take all the cash.

RE: much did Avatar just make? Make movies that people want to see in the theater/Imax. Make going to the theater something that you can't experience at home.

If I'm leaving the house for my entertainment, then dammit I should be entertained.

Musicians should give away their music for next to nothing in order to promote their live shows. Who the hell buys CDs anymore anyway? You can get the right to listen to a song unlimited times on some websites for 10 cents per song. Soon you'll be streaming that website to your mobile device.

Make no mistake, music is already almost free. Performance, t-shirt sales, advertising, music being used in TV and movies, other merchandising not dreamed up yet..these are where musicians will make their money.

These associations spend all this money suing people trying to defend a business model which is no longer relevant.

By supergarr on 2/5/2010 11:59:31 AM , Rating: 2
I actually agree with the judge. I guess it is akin to suing a gun manufacturer if someone uses their gun to kill someone else. The gun company has absolutely no control over what people do with their product.

RE: Agreed
By Fritzr on 2/7/2010 11:51:51 AM , Rating: 2
The argument usually runs along the lines of:
If the perp had no gun the victim would not have been shot.
If the manufacturer had not made the gun the perp could not use it.
Therefore the manufacturer is responsible for the victim dying of gunshot wound.

There is existing law that can be applied to ISPs. Telephones are frequently used by criminals to plan & execute crimes. The responsibility of the telco though is limited to allowing law enforcement to listen in when they ask to do so and provide usage logs to the extent such records are kept. (usually in accordance with the laws :) )

Similarly ISPs can be asked by law enforcement to monitor selected accounts when there is activity a court has deemed suspicious. This has been done by Federal spy agencies for years even though current law supposedly does not allow it.

torrent sites?
By Beno on 2/5/2010 1:01:03 PM , Rating: 2
why not go after torrent trackers and warez sites?

RE: torrent sites?
By Bladen on 2/5/2010 7:30:41 PM , Rating: 2
We Australians let other countries create and run those sites.

An Australian site would be shut down post-haste, a Russian site up be up for years.

Not like the Supreme Court
By gt1911 on 2/5/2010 6:21:56 PM , Rating: 2
the Australian Federal Court (similar to the U.S. Supreme Court)

I gather the US Supreme Court is the highest court in the US? If that's the case, then it's not the equivalent of the Federal Court in Australia. The Federal Court is two steps down from Australia's Highest court, the High Court of Australia. There are two appeal steps available to the parties.

RE: Not like the Supreme Court
By Fritzr on 2/7/2010 11:57:24 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, US Supreme Court is the highest court in US. The only appeal is to US Congress to have a law passed that overrides the Supreme Court decision. In constitutional cases that gets to be interesting since as part of the designed in "checks & balances" a decision of unconstitutional by the Supreme Court overrides Congress :P

By omgwtf8888 on 2/5/2010 3:14:47 PM , Rating: 2
We should sue banks to close accounts of anyone moving too much money as they are most likely money laundering crooks/pirates. Next we should allow law suits against schools and colleges as people get educated there and then use that education to do illegal things... Clearly these schools and colleges are guilty of information/data sharing.

"We basically took a look at this situation and said, this is bullshit." -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng's take on patent troll Soverain

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