Judge: MP3 site, ISP breached copyright

Judge: MP3 site, ISP breached copyright

Summary: It took almost two years but major record labels in Australia have finally won a legal battle against a Queensland man and his Internet Service Provider for alleged music piracy.Stephen Cooper, operator of a Web site called MP3s4free.

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It took almost two years but major record labels in Australia have finally won a legal battle against a Queensland man and his Internet Service Provider for alleged music piracy.

Stephen Cooper, operator of a Web site called MP3s4free.net, was found guilty of copyright infringement by Federal Court Justice Brian Tamberlin.

Although Cooper didn't host pirated recordings per se, the court found he breached the law by creating hyperlinks to sites that had infringing sound recordings.

This is the first such judgement against hyperlinking in Australia.

Tamberlin found against all other respondents in the case, namely ISP Comcen, its employee Chris Takoushis, Comcen's parent company E-Talk Communications, and its director Liam Bal.

In October 2003, the record companies, which included Universal Music, Sony, Warner and EMI, alleged that Cooper cooperated with Bal and Takoushis to increase traffic to the ISP, and boost advertising revenue.

Subsequently, the court was told Cooper was unaware he may have infringed copyright law, while E-Talk and Comcen argued they didn't know of Cooper's actions.

In handing down his judgement today, Tamberlin said: "I am satisfied there has been infringement of copyright.

"I won't make formal orders as yet. But since there's been infringements ... the respondents must pay the applicants' costs."

Outside the Sydney court, Music Industry Piracy Investigations general manager Michael Kerin said the verdict sent a strong message to ISPs.

"This is a very significant blow in the war against piracy.

"The court has found against all the respondents. It sends the message that ISPs who involve themselves in copyright infringement can be found guilty.

"The verdict showed that employees of ISPs who engage in piracy can be seen in the eyes of the court as guilty," Kerin said.

Cooper was not present in court. His legal counsel, Bev Stevens, said the verdict was "extremely disappointing".

The parties will only be required to pay costs -- which will be decided in 14 days once the music industry serves short minutes of orders in reponse to the judgement.

Topics: Legal, Government AU, Piracy, Telcos

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63 comments
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  • When will they start a case against google? or Yahoo ? i can find hyperlinks there to 'illigal' content like millions of others ....
    anonymous
  • It is a significant victory in the war against sanity.
    anonymous
  • this judge is an idiot and clearly shows no understanding at all.

    "In handing down his judgement today, Tamberlin said: "I am satisfied there has been infringement of copyright."

    how can u infringe copyright by putting a link to it ? better close down the libraries, they have indexes that have links to copyrighted books.
    anonymous
  • Absolutely absurd - unless this story is withholding major details about the case, this shows an utter lack of understanding about the nature of the internet. For shame, Australia, for shame...
    anonymous
  • When will the makers of his computer (Dell maybe) on which he created the web page be charged? How about the makers of the wire for the phone/DSL line or if cable, the manufacturers of the cable that transmitted the web page to the server that hosted the illegal links. If he uses a modem to connect to his ISP the phone company should also be charged, they should have disconnected him, as they should have known he was transmitting links to copyrighted material. All of these providers are necessary to facilitate the infringement. Hey, actually the doctor who delivered him should also be charged, mother, father, teachers, any site that showed him how to make a web page . . .

    This is about the most ludicrous ruling ever, if we follow this through to logical conclusion.
    anonymous
  • Working for a large ISP, this has huge effects on how the industry will see this. We run the hosting for tens of thousands of customers, and it is not our business to filter every single persons site to make sure it complies with copyright laws. The interesting part, is that as no illegal material was on the site in question, how was the ISP reasonably able to identify illegal material that was not present on any of their systems?

    This sets a dangerous precident, and should be reinvestigated with proper technical advise!
    anonymous
  • The fact that copyrighted material was offered for download does not in and of itself constitute evidence of copyright infringement. It is entirely possible that someone might have obtained permission through some channel outside of the Internet to copy the material in question. {For example, following a drunken conversation I had with the band Ocean Colour Scene some years ago, I have permission to make copies of some of their work for personal use.}

    As long as the actual download site did not actively seek to mislead anyone into believing they already had a right to download material, there should be no case. Ignorance of the law is no defence. Of course, a big "The recording and playback of certain copyrighted material may require permission which is not ours to give. If in doubt, please check with the copyright holder" or something to that effect never hurts.
    anonymous
  • So how come we aren't taking down ANY infrastructure comapny that facilitates illegal activities? When mafia bosses talk on the phone, how come we don't take down SBC or Verizon? They facilitated the call, right? This is proof that courts, judges and the general populace are still completely CLUELESS on ISPs and internet technology. CLUELESS.
    anonymous
  • Judge has no clue about technology. I wrote an article on just this kind of legal cluelessness 5 yrs ago in http://www.idrop.com/Notes/HistoryRepeats.asp
    anonymous
  • This is horribly ignorant of the judge. I hope there ends up being an appeal to this as that just isn't right. Do they not realise that any hyperlink could theoretically lead to copyrighted content? What if I link to google.com on my website, and the google servers get compromised and filled with illegal content? It sounds like this judge would blame google (which may be possible, if they were found to be negligent with security) and then mark me guilty for linking to this content. I wonder if the guy who compromised the servers would even be blamed for anything...
    anonymous
  • How embarrassing for Australia, I mean come on? Copyright infringement occurred when the guilty parties ripped their tunes off their discs and MADE THEM AVAILABLE for unauthorized distribution. To claim a website owner who lists links to the infringed works, and even worse his ISP are guilty of the infringement just shows a complete ignorance of the internet and it's "open" nature. The court MUST have included the ISP and website owner where the actual files are? Does that mean I am now a pimp becuase I told you you can find hookers down by the doc? Can I sue the phone company for being an arms dealer because they don't have a permit to sell weapons, but they list the phone numbers of people who do? Put down the shrimp, step away from the barby and get a clue!
    anonymous
  • Total crap. If I say/post someone where he may go and listen music for free, e.g. stand near the concert hall, am I committing a crime? And MP3 quality is not 100 proc. the same as original, let's assume it's a good quality preview. Returning back, telling someone where one might get things, is not a crime itself, until the thief goes and takes it. Following the logic, if ISP is guilty, the telcom by whose wires it was transferred is guilty as well, as well as MS, whose software was probably used to commit the crime... continue yourself. If that's a crime, then all GSM companies are guilty, because many criminals agree on their deeds on the phone, and car makers as well, if transport was used in the criminal act... :) But what you could expect of cangaroo judge :P
    anonymous
  • people get lamer every day, hosting links is illegal is it? my website must me evil then because i have links to other sites. (address not givin because i dont want to be sued by the RIAA, the judge, and all the MORONS who desided he was guilty. SUE ME FOR WRITTING FEED BACK! Im a teen yet im smarter and have better judgement then them. Wolf Out!
    anonymous
  • In October 2003, the record companies, which included Universal Music, Sony, Warner and EMI, alleged that Cooper cooperated with Bal and Takoushis to increase traffic to the ISP, and aide (aid) advertising revenue.
    Subsequently, the court was told Cooper was unaware he may (might) have infringed copyright law, while E-Talk and Comcen argued they didn't know of Cooper's actions.
    In handing down his judgement today, Tamberlin said: "I am satisfied there has been infringement of copyright.
    "I won't make formal orders as yet. But since there's (there have) been infringments ...the respondents must pay the applicants' costs."

    Is it no longer necessary to be literate in order to become a professional journalist? The writer's two errors are quite basic. Perhaps Australian judges need not be literate, but quoted errors should be indicated with sic, too.
    anonymous
  • Yet another moronic judgement from an out-of-touch judiciary. ISPs guilty because they hosted hyperlinks - I simply can't believe it. This fool has no idea of the effect this will have on ISPs worldwide ( until his useless ruling is overturned in the name of sanity )
    anonymous
  • This is absolutely ridiculous. When will the lawsuits against Google or Yahoo! start?
    anonymous
  • WHAT? YOU ARE KIDDING! This guy's website is no different from Google or yahoo, or ANY SITE.

    I lost all respect for Australian judges.
    anonymous
  • While the federal court hasn't yet published its ruling, this precedent has a bigger impact that anyone has imagined.

    The precedent here is that you could be breaking australian law just by linking to a site.

    While their are clear examples such as linking to sites which break australian law, other websites could argue that a link to a picture on their site is breaching copyright as you are using the picture out of context and without permission.

    There are other examples I could think of, but I really don't think the decision has been throught through.
    anonymous
  • Tamerblin is not an idiot. He's old but sharp, and understands the issues involved. Stephen Cooper created a webpage that linked to MP3s which he knew were illegal, and attempted to make money off the site by putting up ads. A guilty verdict against him is the same as the recent guilty verdict against Grokster and StreamCast. Hyperlinking is not illegal, facilitating copyright infringement is...especially to turn a profit.

    As for ComCen and its employee, I'm surprised this verdict came down against them. When I was covering the case a few years ago I thought there was no chance they'd get found guilty. The big question that hasn't been answered by ZDNet Australia (or anyone else, to be fair) is whether Judge Tamberlin accepted that ComCen and Chris Takoushis didn't know the site facilitated copyright infringement, or whether MIPI provided enough evidence that they had knowingly cooperated to increase traffic to the ISP by facilitating copyright infringement.

    I expect a deep analysis of the judgement in due course...
    anonymous
  • Appeal Appeal Appeal. WHAT A TOOL!!! This obviously needs a media spotlight!!!!
    anonymous