AFACT: Our evidence not 100% reliable

Summary:The Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft's (AFACT) solicitor, Gilbert & Tobin's Michael Williams, has conceded that the techniques AFACT used to count iiNet customers' copyright breaches was not 100 per cent "reliable".

update The Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft's (AFACT) solicitor, Gilbert & Tobin's Michael Williams, has conceded that the techniques AFACT used to count iiNet customers' copyright breaches were not 100 per cent "reliable".

Today, his second day on the witness stand at a Sydney Federal Court and eighth day of the trial, Williams defended the techniques AFACT had used to count the number of copyright breaches that one of the 20 iiNet customer accounts had allegedly committed.

The case now centres on these 20 iiNet customer accounts since AFACT dropped its claim that iiNet had committed primary copyright infringement after the federation's investigators found the ISP had not cached copyrighted material on its own servers. AFACT's evidence is attempting to show the number of times films and movies by the 34 applicants such as Village Roadshow were made available by iiNet's customers.

iiNet's legal counsel, Richard Lancaster, grilled Williams about the account holder, identified as RC10, arguing that AFACT had inflated the number of breaches on the account.

To count the number of infringements (likely to impact damages that iiNet may have to pay if it loses), AFACT correlated evidence it had collected from its outsourced vendor, DtecNet — which had applied a filter to iiNet IP addresses to monitor copyrighted material being uploaded primarily by BitTorrent — with a spreadsheet of data provided by iiNet on the 20 accounts. Williams argued that he had simply matched up his evidence with that provided by iiNet, suggesting that any error in his report would stem from information provided by the ISP.

Lancaster again attacked Williams' knowledge of how and when IP addresses were generated for each customer. Generally speaking, each time a device, such as a computer or router is turned off or disconnected from the internet, a new IP address is issued by the ISP.

One process AFACT used to verify instances of copyright breach by each iiNet account was what is known as "reverse Domain Name Server (DNS) lookup". DNS is akin to the internet's address book. Lancaster said this was not a reliable process because DNS records were often out of date. Williams agreed this particular process was "not 100 per cent reliable".

"The only way to ensure a user IP address is to go to non-public records which are records held by the ISP," Williams said. Part of Williams' affidavit was based on a spreadsheet that was handed to AFACT as

Yesterday the court heard that Williams had written to the Attorney-General's Department with a proposal to amend the Telecommunications Act so that a carrier could forward the identities of its customers to copyright owners.

Topics: Telcos, Government : AU, Legal

About

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, s... Full Bio

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