Music industry attacks Internet body over MP3 case

Australia's music industry piracy investigations unit has accused the country's peak Internet body of a "head in the sand" response to a Federal Court ruling that an Internet Service Provider (ISP) was liable for the copyright-infringing behaviour of one of its customers.

Australia's music industry piracy investigations unit has accused the country's peak Internet body of a "head in the sand" response to a Federal Court ruling that an Internet Service Provider (ISP) was liable for the copyright-infringing behaviour of one of its customers.

Music Industry Piracy Investigations general manager Michael Kerin made his comments in response to claims by Internet Industry Association (IIA) chief executive Peter Coroneos and former music industry lawyer Alex Malik that the verdict in the Universal Music vs Cooper case had limited implications for ISP liability in cases of users infringing copyright on their networks.

"I think that trying to downplay the implications of this decision for ISPs within Australia is taking a 'head in the sand' attitude," Kerin said.

"It is about time the IIA got their house in order and provided some real guidance to their members on their responsibilities with regard to copyright infringement.

"These observations would seem to be at odds with the IIA's activities in lobbying support for a fighting fund to defend the Cooper case, and the upcoming [case against ISP Swiftel over a BitTorrent file-sharing hub], for that matter," he added.

The piracy investigator described as "strange" Coroneos' comments that the business relationship between the mp3s4free Web site owner Stephen Cooper and the ISP in question, ComCen, to share advertising revenue from the site made the case "very unique".

"Most relationships between ISPs and their customers would...feature a benefit being delivered to the ISPs, whether it be advertising and, or, increased traffic flow or otherwise," he said.

The advertising partnership was not the central issue in the case anyway, he added.

He said the liability of the ISP was established by Justice Brian Tamberlin's comment that the ISP "assumed an active role by agreeing to host the Web site".

Kerin also pointed to comments by Justice Tamberlin that ComCen was liable in this case due to its providing of the "necessary connection to the Internet, and therefore ... the power to prevent the doing of the infringing acts". Tamberlin said ComCen "could have taken the step of taking down the Web site".

The investigator also disputed Malik's "perplexing" comments on the role in the Cooper case of recently-introduced safe-harbour immunity legislation for ISPs when dealing with allegedly infringing material on their networks.

"Judge Tamberlin rejected this as a platform for a defence, both on the basis of a lack of retrospective effect in the legislation and on its merits in this case alone," Kerin said.

"In other words, the 'safe harbour' provisions would not have provided any comfort to the respondents in this matter, even if the legislation had a retrospective effect," he said.

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