Internet pirates may be cut off

2010-02-01 07:13

kalahari.com

Sydney - Australian internet rights groups fear a piracy court case could force Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to become "copyright cops" and cut web access to customers who make illegal downloads.

The Federal Court is on Thursday expected to hand down its judgement in the case, which has pitted Hollywood and Australian film and television producers against Australia's third-largest Internet provider iiNet.

The entertainment companies, which include Village Roadshow, Paramount Pictures Australia and Twentieth Century Fox International, say iiNet has not done enough to stop its customers illegally sharing movies on the net.

But iiNet argues it has never encouraged or authorised the illegal sharing or downloading of files in breach of copyright laws and specifically warned its users against doing so.

Electronic Frontiers Australia, which aims to protect the civil liberties of internet users, said the case goes further than any other similar case seen around the world in holding an ISP responsible for a customer's illegal activities.

"It doesn't seem to be a paradigm that we are used to seeing in the rest of offline life," spokesperson Geordie Guy told AFP.

"We've never seen a company which supplies electricity held responsible for supplying electricity to a house which grows illicit drugs, for example."

94 000 cases

The case hinges on more than 94 000 alleged infringements on the iiNet network over 59 weeks from June 2008, involving titles such as Batman Begins and Dark Knight.

The consortium of 34 Australian and US media content providers sent iiNet notifications of the infringements but say nothing was done about them.

The Australian Digital Alliance (ADA), which is pushing for intellectual property law reform, fears if iiNet loses it could set a precedent leaving ISPs no choice but to terminate the access of internet users accused of making illegal downloads without each case coming to court.

The term intellectual property refers to areas such as copyright, designs, and patents, confidential information and trademarks.

"The ADA believes that access to essential services, such as the internet, should not be terminated without the fundamental protection of independent judicial oversight," the alliance's Matt Dawes told AFP.

Dawes said ISPs were under mounting pressure to regulate the activities of those who subscribe to their internet services.

"The strategy of compelling ISPs to act as 'copyright cops' enforcing private rights is a last-ditch response to the difficulties of preventing file-sharing," he said.

BitTorrent websites were hard to shut down while individual file-sharers were too numerous to sue, added Dawes.

BitTorrent is a technology that allows online users to share parts of a large file such as a film or song over the Internet. The parts are then stitched together on the end user's computer to create a complete file.

Half of traffic 'illegal'

iiNet CEO Michael Malone agreed in court that half or more than half of traffic by volume across the company's network was BitTorrent traffic, and that the technology was frequently used to illegally download movies and TV shows.

"Placing responsibility for reducing file-sharing on ISPs is inappropriate because it will shift the cost of copyright enforcement on to customers and has great potential for abuse without proper supervision," Dawes said.

Whatever the court decides, there was likely to be legislative action in Australia to clarify how ISPs should implement a policy to terminate repeat copyright offenders, Dawes said.

David Crafti, who heads the recently formed Pirate Party Australia, which wants to see intellectual property law reform, says the case could open up issues of privacy if ISPs were essentially expected to spy on their customers.

"In order to enforce copyright laws strictly, the problem is that nowadays what's actually required is invasions of privacy which are actually anathema to a free society," he told AFP.

Crafti said lawmakers had been slow to respond to the enormous changes brought about by the internet and needed to recognise there was currently no way to prevent illegal downloading without taking draconian measures.

"The way I see it, the internet is a utility. It should be on tap like water. And as soon as you start limiting that, you are limiting the freedom of your society," he said.

- SAPA

Read more on:    australia  |  internet  |  online privacy
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
5 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

Zuma: Pray for peaceful polls

President Jacob Zuma has asked members of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God to pray for peaceful elections on 7 May.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Friday Grabouw - 11:32 AM
    Road name: N2 Eastbound
    DELAYS between Sir Lowrys Pass and Grabouw
  • Friday Cape Town - 10:14 AM
    Road name: M3 Inbound
    EVENT - left lane closed between Rhodes Avenue and UCT
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

DSTV Mobile iDrifta

The iDrifta is a plug and play mobile DVB-H receiver...

From R445.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may find yourself putting in that extra effort on looking good and making an impression. ...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.