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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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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.

“So far we have not seen a single Android device that does not infringe on our patents." -- Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith

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