iiNet blames data retention, studio intransigence for ditching piracy trials

iiNet blames data retention, studio intransigence for ditching piracy trials

Summary: iiNet has revealed its reasoning behind abandoning trials aimed at curbing online copyright infringement.

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TOPICS: Telcos, Australia
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iiNet, Australia's third largest internet service provider (ISP), has said that rights holder intransigence in negotiations and the requirement for ISPs to hold more customer data as the reasons for why it will not participate in an infringement notice scheme.

Negotiations between the Attorney-General's Department, ISPs, and rights holders have been taking place formally for the past several years. The negotiations have struggled to progress over that time, with both sides blaming each other for the delays.

After working towards a trial infringement notice scheme that would see ISPs send notices to customers who are suspected of downloading infringing content, The Australian reported last week that iiNet would not participate in the trial. Telstra and Optus are understood to be participating in the trial scheme.

In a blog post on Friday, iiNet Chief Regulatory Officer Steve Dalby said that iiNet had no intention of participating in the so-called "notice-notice" trial for several reasons.

He said that rights holders were asking ISPs to enforce copyright while, at the same time, ignoring the lack of access to the content that is being infringed upon.

"The rights holders are still insisting ISPs should perform work on their behalf, instead of addressing what we have always said is the root cause of the infringements — the limited accessibility to desirable content, and the discriminatory and high cost of content in Australia," he said. "Infringements are a symptom — access is the problem."

The notice scheme would also require iiNet to retain more customer data, something iiNet wasn't willing to do, he said.

"iiNet won't support any scheme that forces ISPs to retain data in order to allow for the tracking of customer behaviour and the status of any alleged infringements against them," he said. "Collecting and retaining additional customer data at this level is inappropriate, expensive, and most importantly, not our responsibility."

Finally, he said that in iiNet's victory over the consortium of film and television studios known as the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) in the High Court this year, the court had ruled that ISPs are not the "copyright police" for the rights holders.

He said that iiNet does not condone copyright infringement, and is still holding out for a commercial method to cut down copyright infringement that would include access to content, but he said that, for now, the ongoing government-led negotiations had stalled.

"We're still holding out for a commercial solution that will work for ISPs, the rights holders, and our customers that improves the supply of legitimate content, but it's clear that this is not going to be the outcome of the current talks," he said.

Since the High Court's ruling in iiNet's favour, the company has teetered on the edge of walking away from the negotiations. CEO Michael Malone said after the ruling that he would like to walk away, but Dalby insisted iiNet continue to participate to ensure that its views were brought to the table.

AFACT managing director Neil Gane told ZDNet that it was disappointing but not surprising that iiNet pulled out of trialing the "workable solution".

"A solution that will benefit not only the content industry and ISPs but, most importantly, consumers," he said.

"The content and ISP communities are not adversaries; we're partners. We both share commitment to rolling out innovative business models and delivering quality content in a timely manner to customers, as this is what they tell us they want."

A failure to develop an industry-led model may force the hand of the government to legislate and force ISPs to have an infringement notice scheme in place. AFACT had asked the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) to consider, as part of its review of the Copyright Act, including ways to enforce copyright.

Pay TV company Foxtel has also asked for the government to consider implementing an infringement notice scheme, and the ability for content owners to have sites that facilitate copyright infringement, such as The Pirate Bay, blocked in Australia.

Topics: Telcos, Australia

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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6 comments
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  • I call BS

    Look, I'm not a supporter of the copyright notice stuff - but lets be honest here and cut the BS:
    "The notice scheme would also require iiNet to retain more customer data, something iiNet wasn't willing to do," - iiNet was already maintaining the relevant information for the proposed notice scheme. Anyone remember the "iiNet 20"??


    When Dalby says "commercial solution" - I assume this means ones where Copyright owners pay the ISP, and one where the copyright owners pay the ISP to deliver their content? That's probably what we're talking about here right? Or one without the whole notice thing?

    Just as an aside - pretty sure High Court never mentioned "Copyright Police" in there judgement - but I'll take that as the nice sound bite.

    It sounds like iiNet are using the data retention proposal as more of an escape clause out of the discussions rather than being the reason for leaving..
    JBHurst
    • Commercial solution

      While I can't be sure about what was referred to by the terms "Commercial solution", I'm pretty sure it wasn't one directly involving ISPs.

      In my mind, a commercial solution is, say, Netflix. For those who don't know, Netflix is a large streaming movie/TV show provider in the US, UK, and several other countries. For a fixed monthly charge the user gets on-demand access to thousands of movies. This is the kind of thing we need here.

      Spotify is now in Australia, which is a great commercial solution for music, now we just need something similar for our video.
      Robin Elden
      • But let's be realistic

        iiNet have, and always will go, with what gives them the most customers/money. It may give the customers the warm fuzzy that they have said at times they will protect customers. But in the next breath they are asking to be paid to enforce copyright. That marks them more of a Judas than anything.
        Pilfer-52cec
    • it's pretty clear

      and all in this paragraph:

      "The rights holders are still insisting ISPs should perform work on their behalf, instead of addressing what we have always said is the root cause of the infringements — the limited accessibility to desirable content, and the discriminatory and high cost of content in Australia," he said. "Infringements are a symptom — access is the problem."

      iiNet is basically saying AFACT don't want to address the actual issue (legally accessible content delivered in a timely way at a fair price), they just want to treat the symptoms and force people to stick to their old business model.

      The "content cops" just don't get it.
      Tinman_au
      • Isn't that extortion?

        So, what other companies have to lower prices to stop stuff being taken? I'd quite like a Ferrari. Maybe I should take one, after all, it's their own fault for pricing them so high.
        Pilfer-52cec
  • The problem is?

    Why should the ISP pay for the content monitoring and emailing and disconnection of users? IMO, since copyright infringement if not done for profit is a civil offence, it should be AFACT paying for the monitoring, and rather than disconnecting users, taking it to a court of law to prove the offence took place.
    Camm-a0c75