AFACT strong-arming ISPs: Pirate Party

AFACT strong-arming ISPs: Pirate Party

Summary: The Australian arm of the Pirate Party yesterday opened fire on the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT), accusing the group of "strong-arm tactics" and "extortion" in its renewed advances to local internet service providers (ISPs) over the past few weeks on the issue of online copyright infringement through file-sharing services such as BitTorrent.


The Australian arm of the Pirate Party yesterday opened fire on the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT), accusing the group of "strong-arm tactics" and "extortion" in its renewed advances to local internet service providers (ISPs) over the past few weeks on the issue of online copyright infringement through file-sharing services such as BitTorrent.

AFACT has been engaged in a long-running battle with ISPs in an effort to get them to address piracy through their networks, with the most high-profile skirmish being its lawsuit against iiNet, which is believed to be headed for the High Court. iiNet has won several legal rounds against AFACT in the case, but, in the latest judgment, onlookers commented that a mechanism may have opened up for AFACT to be able to request that ISPs disconnect those illegally sharing files online, if copyright infringement notices were issued in the correct manner.

In a recent letter to ISPs, AFACT requested that talks be opened on file sharing, noting that it would proceed with an unspecified action if it did not hear from the ISP within a week. However, the Pirate Party, which broadly advocates intellectual property legislative change and digital rights within Australia, isn't impressed with AFACT's move.

"These veiled threats are nothing more than intimidation tactics that once again clearly display the extent that Big Media will go to in their failing attempts to protect their flawed business models. Extortion is a new low even for AFACT," said Pirate Party Australia acting secretary Brendan Molloy in a statement issued by the party yesterday.

"It is completely inappropriate to have closed-room discussions even before the iiNet court case has concluded, and even more inappropriate to make veiled threats to begin yet another court case for not attending these 'voluntary talks'."

Countries such as New Zealand and the US are implementing graduated response mechanisms to online copyright infringement by internet users, which sees a number of warnings or "strikes" given before action is taken. However, Molloy said that such a scheme would not be implemented in Australia "without a fight".

"Pirate Party Australia condemns this blatant example of legal strong-arm tactics, a reflection of the corruption and desperation at the heart of an industry that is refusing to embrace reality," the party's statement said. "ISPs have no obligations to take any action over unproven allegations of infringement by AFACT."

"AFACT itself is known for sending legal threats based on nothing more than a recorded IP address. This practice blatantly ignores the realities of the average household, where the internet connection is shared by parents, children, families and friends. Given the prevalence of home offices and work-at-home parents, if AFACT's scheme were to be implemented, families could see their livelihood taken away when any person commits an act of copyright infringement using their home connection, proven or otherwise."

The Pirate Party did appear to have made a factual mistake in its statement; incorrectly stating that AFACT's letter had detailed a seven-day response time for customers to respond to online infringement notices send to them through ISPs. In fact, the seven-day response time referred to the period in which ISPs had to respond to AFACT, and initiate discussions with the organisation on a graduated response scheme.

"We can't respond to extreme views based on misunderstanding and incorrect facts from the Pirate Party," AFACT responded in a statement.

Topics: Legal, Government AU, Piracy, Security

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  • Dear AFACT,

    If I'm running a small business from home, and my son illegally downloads a song incorrectly, how is that my fault? If my wife grabs the latest episode of Desparate Housewives, how is that my fault? If my daughter shares her music with her friends, how is that my fault?

    There are your 3 strikes. Yet because my name is on the bill, you dont care who did it, just that it was done. You shut down my internet connection, and destroy my business, my career, quite possibly my marriage, and all because of a 4 digit number.

    You dont care about this, I understand. You just want to protect your monopoly over our artists. But these are situations you need to consider over the next year or two, and more importantly for you, the ensuing legal action that can come out of this when you deny basic rights to the wrong person.

    An IP address is not a person. It is a doorway.

    Your model is based on ancient ideals, and there is no going back. The internet, for better or worse, has opened up information to the masses, and along with that great leap forwards there are pitfalls and traps. For you, that means an outdated business model.

    For the regular person, that means a changing emphasis on physical products. We no longer use film for cameras, everything is digital. Rather than fight this trend, the camera industry adapted.

    More importantly, we no longer write letters, we use email. Rather than fight this trend, people effected adapted. ISP's are the new post office, and with that change comes different responsibilities, and different protection. If your business model cant work with these changes, then its time for your business model to change.

    Concerned Citizen
  • I myself can remember getting a warning from my ISP, that i had downloaded A Michael Jackson unreleased movie.

    The written warning from some unidentifiable Internet policeman was included, but no return address to reply to,

    I complained to my ISP on no less than 10 occasions, that this was not the case, and to please forward the accusers email address, so that i could reply direct to him.

    The actual facts in the case were that my Grandson had bitstreamed a download from You Tube, of about 5 minutes of a film clip using this name.

    I finally got a reply from my ISP after a number of days, that they had received my complaint, and forwarded my reply on to this so called Internet policeman.

    I never got the chance to vent my spleen against the absolute rot that this person had reported to my ISP.

    It appears that if one of these people opens their lying yap, it is taken as Gospel Truth.