BitTorrent: Sysadmins to face the music

BitTorrent: Sysadmins to face the music

Summary: The federal court has ruled two systems administrators from Internet service provider (ISP) Swiftel can be sued for alleged music piracy, overriding an earlier decision.Perth-based Swiftel has been accused of copyright infringement by major record labels -- which claim the ISP's employees and customers created a BitTorrent file-sharing hub for hosting thousands of pirated sound and video recordings.

The federal court has ruled two systems administrators from Internet service provider (ISP) Swiftel can be sued for alleged music piracy, overriding an earlier decision.

Perth-based Swiftel has been accused of copyright infringement by major record labels -- which claim the ISP's employees and customers created a BitTorrent file-sharing hub for hosting thousands of pirated sound and video recordings.

The labels allege Swiftel's senior systems administrators Melissa Ong and Ryan Briggs ignored calls to remove Web sites that were in breach of copyright, and instead "treated the infringement notices like spam."

In April, magistrate Rolf Driver refused to allow the pair to be added as respondents, saying at that stage there was no evidence they acted beyond the scope of their employment. However, this decision was overturned by Justice Catherine Branson on Friday.

Counsel representing the music industry -- including Warner Music Australia and others -- told the court Ong and Briggs had been well aware of alleged piracy on the Swiftel network.

"We'll be demonstrating that the company had knowledge of what was happening, and that these two individuals knew of this [piracy] activity," Tony Bannon, counsel for the labels, said.

Swiftel's laywer protested, claiming only customers were responsible. However, in a twist, the ISP said a key customer in the case, Archit Jha, has already settled with the music industry's local piracy unit, Music Industry Piracy Investigations.

Jha had been named as the creator of "Archie's hub", a BitTorrent hub central to the case. However, the music industry has not included him as a respondent in its legal action.

Justice Branson noted Jha's situation and absence from the list of respondents. "Archie's [Archit's] someone who could be carrying the can here," she said.

The trial is expected to start in October. Branson ordered Swiftel to produce data backup records by July 8.

Topics: Piracy, Legal, Security, Telcos

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • What happens when someone fakes an email header so it looks like an infrigment notice from a movie studio etc. For example Saying there is copyrighted material on the website. So because of this case, emails are given the word of law by the courts and the Pharmcacy Direcy website is taken offline. Pharmacy Direct then sues the ISP for losing it millions of dollars. What will the courts do then....

    Emails cannot be given legal status as they are too easily faked. It they were not there would be an easy way to filter spam emails.
  • What i find most annoying is P2P software is the future of data comms and transfer across the internet, yet, as it is easy to distribute pirated material, we the internet users are forced to abandon these technologies (or develop and test them covertly).. and settle for what we have already, and have had for over 15 years.

    HTTP is boring, slow and full of single points of failure.
    Yet places like the MPAA and RIAA are keeping internet data transfer protocol development in the darkages...

  • Copywrite is a term 'made up' by industry leaders. Copywrite is a term used to describe one's monopoly on a certain product. Copywrite represents one's greed in the matter of selling a product. Music industry leaders are fat, nasty, Nazi swine that roll around in their own filth of green. Ever see that cartoon of the rich duck that had the tower full of money? Thats what the RIAA/MPAA reminds me of. I own an ISP, and we have been sent letters before. We usually write them back, and remind them that only law enforcement officials will have access to customer records under a warrent. The RIAA/MPAA has NO LEGAL JURISDICTION. They are a simple organization with no powers other than that to infuence those in power with their money. The RIAA/MPAA is GUILTY of illegal actions themselves. Don't believe me? Fine. Check your windows machine next time, and do a google on where that trojan came from. The RIAA/MPAA are terrorist groups. Plain and simple.
  • Please correct your story or get a fact checker who can.
    A Bit Torrent site does not share files.
    A BitTorrent site shares pointers (links) to files hosted on individual users computers. There is a big difference and an educated writer should know the difference. Please be correct in your use of language or you present lies in your story.
  • This is a very interesting case. How can a sysadmin at a large ISP be held responsible for everything that every customer does? I live in the US and many ISP's here have policies that they do not even monitor what is going on when customer's are using their computers. Why should an ISP be the police dog for the music industry?

    If the music industry has it's way soon every ISP will live in fear and no files will be allowed to be transferred for anyone. Seeing that the entire Internet is all about trasferring data back and forth this is a little rediculous.
  • *sigh*
    Archie's Hub was a Direct Connect hub and had NOTHING to do with BitTorrent. I really wish that people would pay some attention to this.. and I really hope that the court case hasn't been calling things BitTorrent! Surely a reason for a mistrial!
    I have a feeling that the music industry is trying to sully the reputation of BitTorrent with slip ups like this.
  • Really neat idea: Sue police officers when citizens commit crimes. Sue the mayor of the city too. Sue the computer manufacturers for makeing machines that can pirate. Sue microsoft. Sue the internet for allowing it to happen.

    Lock up all consumers and throw away the key! Dirty buccaneering savages robbing the music and movie ships in the information sea.
  • There is no such thing as 'piracy', corporate entities made up this term to make millions of dollars and to justify why they are loosing millions now. There is no way for someone to 'own' a symbol, are secret, or an Algorithm ( program ), it is also not possible to licence a movie, once it is made, then it is 'o's and '1's for the taking. Get used to it. The only way you can fight this nonsense is to oppose every action against sharing. Perhaps I should trademark your name, or copyright math knowledge, or make your kids pay royalty for learning certain things.... the possiblilities are endless.
  • In a couple of years hopefully people and not just persons will wake up and give the greedy the massive backlash they have coming. Course the likely hood of that happening is about the same as the "Austrialian Project", if the Australian government is anything like every other government, which it seems it is.
    If you want the full story <address></address>
    "It works like this. Let's say that you own a large piece of land. Say something the size of your state of California. This land contains natural resources. There is the sand on the beaches, from which you can make glass and silicon chips. There are iron, gold and aluminum ores in the soil, which you can mine, refine and form into any shape. There are oil and coal deposits under the ground. There is carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen and oxygen in the air and in the water. If you were to own California, all of these resources are 'free.' That is, since you own them, you don't have to pay anyone for them and they are there for the taking."

    "If you have a source of energy and if you also own smart robots, the robots can turn these resources into anything you want for free. Robots can grow free food for you in the soil. Robots can manufacture things like steel, glass, fiberglass insulation and so on to create free buildings. Robots can weave fabric from cotton or synthetics and make free clothing. In the case of this catalog you are holding, nanoscale robots chain together glucose molecules to form laminar carbohydrates. As long as you have smart robots, along with energy and free resources, everything is free."

    Linda chimed in, "This was Eric's core idea -- everything can be free in a robotic world. Then he took it one step further. He said that everything should be free. Furthermore, he believed that every human being should get an equal share of all of these free products that the robots are producing. He took the American phrase 'all men are created equal' quite literally."
  • LMAO. The amusing part is, it's all fake. Firstly, there is no company such as swiftel. It's Peoples Telecom. Secondly, Archies Hub is a DC++ (Direct Connect) sight, not a BitTorrent.

    So... yeah. It's no wonder the court doesn't care.
  • to Badsector

    if you sued everyone who would get all the money and innocent people would be living on the streets because of you self-centeredness it's not our fault that some stupid people want to do things that are illegal they were warned about it