Australian Copyright Orgs Vow to Turn Attacks to Citizens After Legal Defeat
February 5, 2010 8:55 AM
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A comic written by AFACT warns children of the dangers of piracy.
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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RE: Adapt or die
2/5/2010 12:54:43 PM
Strip away all the "parasites", the record labels, publishers, marketers, middle men, lawyers and the rest. Once you've got back to the raw basics:
How do you propose that a band gets fair reward (or even a living wage in most cases) in return for the work that they do when they write, perform and record a record, assuming of course that it's of sufficient quality to justify such?
How do you propose that films or television programmes are funded? Sure, much of what's released is of no value at all, but there's enough great work from talented writers, actors, directors and technical crew that deserves to be made and seen. And they're not cheap to make, either.
What are "our needs" that the industry must adapt to?
RE: Adapt or die
2/5/2010 3:31:21 PM
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: films....how 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.
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