Mixed reaction to 'childish' iiNet piracy plan

Mixed reaction to 'childish' iiNet piracy plan

Summary: While some sections of the telco industry have quietly welcomed iiNet's proposal for a third-party mediator to enforce copyright for internet users, others are waiting to weigh in — but the proposal has been blasted by Exetel.


While some sections of the telco industry have quietly welcomed iiNet's proposal for a third-party mediator to enforce copyright for internet users, others are waiting to weigh in — but the proposal has been blasted by Exetel.


(BitTorrent Download image by nrkbeta, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Last week iiNet released a whitepaper suggesting that copyright infringers should be treated no differently to drivers who speed on the roads, with demerit points and fines issued to infringers through an independent mediator funded by copyright holders.

The release came shortly after the internet service provider (ISP) won another round in the Federal Court against the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT). AFACT had taken iiNet to court seeking a ruling that iiNet had authorised its users to infringe copyright by failing to act on infringement notices provided by the federation. iiNet won the case and an appeal; however, experts have said that the appeal judgement laid out a framework for AFACT to compel ISPs to act on infringement notices in the future.

The Communications Alliance's CEO John Stanton welcomed iiNet's proposal and said it "warranted further study".

"Whatever the solution, we believe it will be more robust and sustainable if it flows from a shared desire from content owners and ISPs to agree arrangements that benefit consumers and all sides of the industry," he said in a statement.

Stanton said that the organisation and a number of other ISPs have been meeting with content owners in recent weeks to look at whether an industry-led solution can be found.

"We want to continue that dialogue and broaden the discussion to include other stakeholders to help address copyright concerns and foster greater access for Australian consumers to legitimate and commercially available online content," he said.

Telecommunications giant Telstra directed ZDNet Australia to the Communications Alliance statement, while Optus said the company would like to review the proposal before making a comment, but welcomed proposals that addressed the issue "in a collaborative way".

Internode's general manager of regulatory and corporate affairs, John Lindsay, told ZDNet Australia that the telco "supports the model that iiNet is proposing and will continue to work with rights-holders to promote legal content like FetchTV, iTunes and ABC iView to its subscribers".

However, Exetel's outspoken managing director John Linton had a less than favourable view of the proposal.

"Why would anyone think a 'mediator' has any ability to interpret law? Worse, why would anyone think that a 'mediator' would put themselves in the position of having to read tens of thousands of copyright notices each day and then put themselves in a position that exposes them to legal redress? Can you think of anyone who would be so ludicrously stupid?" Linton told ZDNet Australia.

Linton said that iiNet knew its customers were committing copyright infringement and, thanks to the judgement in the appeal, stated that iiNet can now be compelled to act on notices.

"What iiNet don't want to do is cut off customers who illegally download — a huge percentage of their customers — because doing that would send them broke," he added. "Making childishly absurd suggestions such as iiNet has done [is] just a pathetic attempt to 'buy' more time before they really have to stop allowing their customers to steal other people's property as their standard process of making money."

The Internet Industry Association recently announced plans to develop its own set of guidelines for ISPs to deal with copyright enforcement issues, seeking to address growing unrest between ISPs and copyright holders.

Despite repeated requests for comment since the iiNet announcement, AFACT has yet to respond to the proposal.

AFACT has until Thursday to seek leave to appeal the latest Federal Court ruling to the High Court of Australia.

Topics: Telcos, Government AU, Piracy, Security, Optus, Telstra


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.

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
  • Is this the same John Linton that thinks the NBN is a bad idea and that wireless is awesome? I learned not to take anything this Luddite says seriously ages ago. No one should. In fact what he is saying here and on NBN issues sounds far more childish.
    Hubert Cumberdale
  • Over the years I've seen John Linton stirring the pot, this is nothing more than another attempt at grabbing some attention. Don't listen to him, don't give him publicity it's all he chases. We'll all find ourselves on his webpage after this where he will have a go at us for commenting about him, ho hum.
    Ms Bear
  • Actually, I like that anology of road users and demerit points.
    To extend upon it......

    Do the owners/operators on Sydneys M2, M5 & M7 motorways have the responsibility to ensure their customers (these are pay/toll roads remember) do not exceed speed limits and break the law?
    No - this is performed by the NSW police.

    Perhaps Mr Linton should consider the option that this 'mediator' should be provided by, or duely 'deputised' by an arm of the law.. or to put it much more simply... our Guvmnt and our lawmakers get their proverbial sh1t together and work out how this thing should be done rather than sitting on their hands watching to see what private enterprise comes up with?
  • I'm shopping for a new ISP and Exetel most definitely not make it into my shortlist. At best he's an attention seeker, at worst he's a fool. I don't see him coming up with any other solutions that benefits ALL parties, rights holders, ISP's and the consumer. Looks to me like he's willing to bend over backwards to help big corporations - not his customer base.
  • Mr Linton should worry about answering exetel tech support phones rather then making silly remarks. At the end of the day Exetel target bandwith leechers (typical offenders) with extravagant download limits, and iiNET provides "business class " network and upmaket prices to it's customers. Maybe Linton is covering his "real policies" taking the high moral ground here.