Studios can't torrent what they preach

Summary:When a group is caught out not practising what it preaches, it's easy to mock them for it, but there's more to it than that with the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT).

When a group is caught out not practising what it preaches, it's easy to mock them for it, but there's more to it than that with the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT).

The news that AFACT members Sony, Fox and Universal were allegedly downloading films and TV shows using BitTorrent will probably be pretty amusing to people, considering they've waged a strong campaign in Australia against the practice, moralising how all the bad torrents supposedly cost $1.4 billion annually to industries in Australia, and the organisation has even taken iiNet to the High Court over the issue.

But it's not that simple.

The tests used by TorrentFreak on YouHaveDownloaded.com were from a range of IP addresses that were supposedly matched with the three film studios, and the results were given for individual IP addresses from each. This means that it may just have been one IP address, or even one employee who was caught illegally downloading things. Surely the company can't be held responsible for what the employee does with their connection?

The problem with that argument is that it is the exact argument that AFACT sought to dismiss in its case arguing that iiNet authorises the actions of its users by not passing on copyright-infringement notices.

iiNet had argued that regardless of the system it had in place, ultimately the individual user makes a choice to download a torrent, and iiNet has little control over that.

AFACT conversely argued that an infringement warning system with a graduated response that could lead to the suspension of a customer's internet service would likely be a deterrent from customers infringing in the first place.

But what does Sony, Fox or Universal have to do to stop their employees from doing similar things? Most companies would have some form of appropriate-use guidelines in place for technology with reprimands, or even dismissal for misuse of technology. A lot of companies have even deployed internet filters that go out and specifically block sites that would have torrents to download.

But none of that seems to have stopped these employees from grabbing JJ Abrams' Steven Spielberg tribute Super 8, or the fantasy HBO series Game of Thrones.

If the data is accurate, then AFACT has undercut a significant argument in its own court case. No matter what measures you put in place to limit this sort of behaviour, people will find a way.

Can't stop the signal.

Topics: Piracy, Government : AU, Security

About

Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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