Studios sue iiNet over video piracy

Studios sue iiNet over video piracy

Summary: iiNet was today dragged into the federal court as major film studios filed a case against the ISP for allegedly letting its users download pirated movies and television series.

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iiNet was today dragged into the federal court as major film studios filed a case against the ISP for allegedly letting its users download pirated movies and television series.

According to the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft, speaking on behalf of Village Roadshow, Universal Pictures, Warner Bros Entertainment, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Disney Enterprises, Inc and the Seven Network, thousands cases of pirated movies and television shows have passed through iiNet tubes without iiNet doing anything about it.

AFACT executive director Adrianne Pecotic claimed that iiNet had ignored requests from the companies to discipline its customers for breaking copyright laws.

"We have provided in this instance, over a five-month period, the IP addresses of thousands of people who are iiNet customers who are using iiNet internet access to infringe copyright. iiNet has several options within its power to prevent that. They have not done so," Pecotic told ZDNet.com.au.

When they know that copyright infringement is occurring, they have a legal obligation to prevent it

AFACT's Adrianne Pecotic

"This is not about iiNet policing its network. There's no suggestion that they have to police their network. What we're saying and what the law says is that when they know that copyright infringement is occurring, they have a legal obligation to prevent it," she continued.

Options the ISP had, Pecotic said, were giving the customer notice, limiting download speeds or suspending browsers or P2P protocols. She said that nine out of ten people in the US who were given notice did not pirate films again.

The companies want a court order forcing iiNet to prevent its customers from engaging in copyright infringement over its network. If the ruling goes their way, they will likely claim damages, but Pecotic would not name figures.

When asked if other ISPs were undertaking such measures when sent infringement notices, Pectotic highlighted agreements between ISPs and content providers in the US and UK markets, saying only that she intended to focus on iiNet because it was who the court case was against.

She would not say if any other ISP was also ignoring infringement notices, but when asked if there might be future court cases she said "We wouldn't rule out any future litigation, no."

On the choice of ISP, Pecotic said only that iiNet was the third-largest ISP in Australia and thus she didn't consider it to be small.

According to Pecotic, 50,000 people in Australia are employed in companies affected by the film industry, which all feel the brunt of pirating films and tv, and the faster broadband gets, the worse piracy gets.

The case will come back before the court on the 17 December and Pectotic considered that it would run for around 12 months.

iiNet did not reply to requests for comment in time for publication.

Topics: Piracy, Legal, Security, Telcos

Suzanne Tindal

About Suzanne Tindal

Suzanne Tindal cut her teeth at ZDNet.com.au as the site's telecommunications reporter, a role that saw her break some of the biggest stories associated with the National Broadband Network process. She then turned her attention to all matters in government and corporate ICT circles. Now she's taking on the whole gamut as news editor for the site.

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Talkback

24 comments
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  • ISPs are under no obligation to enforce industry copyrights

    At no point was iiNet under any obligation to
    enforce the law on behalf of the Australia Music / Film industry upon receiving customer shutdown requests from the film/music industry. Law enforcement is the AFPs job, not the ISPs to perform.

    Going after the owner of the conduit and not the actual perpetrators is akin to a bank suing Subaru over a heist where one of the manufacturers cars happened to be involved.

    The lawsuit is completely senseless. An ISP has no control, and should not have any control over how their customers use the bandwidth that they've paid for.
    anonymous
  • LoL

    Brilliant, they offer download allowances aimed at people who could onlyneed that much for piracy and now it has come back to bite them right in the A$$! Round 1 to the studios, round 2 to ZDNet for writing the facts and not twisting them like the usually do and hopefully round 3 will place iiNet into administrator's control.
    anonymous
  • The evidence is obtained illegally.

    "We have provided in this instance, over a five-month period, the IP addresses of thousands of people who are iiNet customers who are using iiNet internet access to infringe copyright. iiNet has several options within its power to prevent that. They have not done so," Pecotic told ZDNet.com.au.

    Why do you have, peoples ip adress's?
    You have no authorization to retrirve collect and/or store peoples private information without there authorization.
    And none of these people have authorized you to do so.
    Therefore you have committed a criminal offence under the privacy act.
    This case will be struck out due to the plaintiff perjuring obtaining the evidence used in an illegal manner.
    anonymous
  • please do not comment if you are not well informed of the issue

    "they offer download allowances aimed at people who could onlyneed that much for piracy "

    There are many reasons to have more data allowances. i use lot of bandwidth to watch tv on BBC iPlayer, buy/rent movies from iTunes, and i have subscribed to over 80audio/video podcasts… this has nothing to do with piracy..
    anonymous
  • Authority for IP addresses

    The IP address is displayed in any P2P client. It is public information.

    The information as to who was using a particular IP address at a particular time might be a different matter.
    anonymous
  • Whats inside that counts

    The IP addresses may be public knowledge but the owner and what is inside is not. I am not aware of any legislation that allows anyone to access my files, my computer or my personal information without my permission. Indeed there is federal legislation to protect my privacy which would seem to preclude such activities
    anonymous
  • Thank GOD for PEERGUARDIAN

    Your would not believe how many Media, Police inc Fedreal and OS, and Government IP Address my PG2 Software blocks.

    Just because i'm Downloading Torrents (P2P) does not mean i'm illegally Pirated downloading content. a Shareware or Distro anyone.
    anonymous
  • pathetic

    I especially like the fact that they take a smaller ISP rather than trying to sue Telstra, which having the largest market portion would obviously be considered the main offender.

    So they go for a company with less money that probably cant afford a protracted legal battle as much. Shame Shame Shame.

    (If im missing something here, just let me know that im uneducated.. has IINET actually done anything wrong? do they advertise "Pirates come here?")
    anonymous
  • You're a bad IP address!

    The studio's fundamental problem is that having an IP address is proof of nothing. Whether they take action in court or badger the ISP to take action, the target must be the individual doing the download. With many accesses being shared among multiple people, how can they punish everyone on the basis that one of them is *alleged* to have downloaded copyrighted material?

    What if the access being used was a business where the owner had no idea what a staff member was doing during his lunchtime? If the ISP were to shut off the internet access and cause the business to lose money, then the ISP could probably be sued. It gets worse if the studios get it wrong and pressure the ISP to disconnect an innocent party. Who gets sued then, the ISP or the studios?

    The only solution is for the studios to identify the individual doing the download (not just an IP address or internet service identity) and put their allegations before a court. If it is impractical to do so, it is not the ISP's problem.
    anonymous
  • Ever heard of working form home?

    Don't be an idiot, please. People need big quotas (like myself) to work from home, among other useful things. Are now supposed to be controlled by the government or the film industry as to how much traffic we create?
    anonymous
  • Its Not illegally obtained if they know

    The privacy act only states that an organisation (and not all) have an obligation to advise people what information they are collecting, for what purpose and use that information for the purpose that they have have advised.

    I daresay if the studio's T&C are assessed, they do advise that they will collect this information and why.
    anonymous
  • WOW! Talking about low standards in the law

    > "This is not about iiNet policing its network. There's no suggestion that they have to police their network. What we're saying and what the law says is that when they know that copyright infringement is occurring, they have a legal obligation to prevent it," she continued.

    So, let me get this straight. Somebody walks up to me and tells me that my room mate is copying DVDs illegally and I'm supposed to throw him out? Or confiscate his equipment? Or give him notice from the person making the complaint?

    Hey, handle your own complaints! Ask the court to issue a warrant to get names and addresses associated with illegal downloads (to which ISPs must comply) and sue those people.
    anonymous
  • Interesting one to watch

    This will be an interesting one to watch and how it will impact the industry. Its not until there is some accountability and impact that anyone cares to do anything about it.

    Look at the impact the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard has had on businesses taking responsibility for protecting the information of others they hold. Prior to that - they couldn't have cared less.
    anonymous
  • Not so pathetic

    The reason that Telstra and Optus and also some smaller ISPs don't get tapped on the shoulder is because they actually do cut people off when they are told about subscribers who are caught stealing.

    I don't support or condone record and film companies snooping on people but at the end of the day if people are going to steal then they deserve to be cut off. A lot of people say that it's different because everyone does it but that reason doesn't make it any more morally correct than pinching a packet of Lifesavers or an S Class Benz.

    Without getting too much into the moral side of things the bottom line is this: If you aren't stealing then you won't get penalised for it or spied on.
    anonymous
  • Guilty until proven innocent?

    I hereby allege that you are a murderer and should be thrown in jail right now. Not worried that the police will come to you door? That's a good thing - it's how it's supposed to be. My words carry no meaning until they are proven in court.

    Why should an ISP cut someone's connection just because someone else is _alleging_ that they are doing something illegal? If they want these people disconnected, they should do it properly, through the court system.
    anonymous
  • Spying

    > spied on

    You are either naive or ignorant. Our precious government is just about to execute the biggest spying project of all time - the China style filter. Comrade Conroy plans to spy in everyone - including YOU. Yes, that's YOU!

    So, please, spare us the empty platitudes. Erosion of legal standards is bad for everyone. This kind of idiocy where allegations are escalated to guilt without due diligence should never be permitted.
    anonymous
  • Telstra cut off users for that?

    As far as I was aware, Telstra have never terminated an account for alleged piracy without a court order, as per their quote in the news today?
    anonymous
  • Lets see what is really illegal

    Would it actually be legal for any service provider to inspect the data that flowed over its network? Last time I heard the AFP still required reasonable suspicion, and a court order before even they could listen to private phone conversations on a service providers network. Without packet inpection how would an ISP tell what is happening on its infrastructure? Is this not exactly the same thing? The violation of privacy by the provider would far exceed the potential "gain" returned back to these overbearing, unethical super giants of world media. This is a whole new level of bullying, it should be throw out hastily as it is akin to harrassment.
    anonymous
  • Telecommunications Act

    I think you will find that it is the Telecommunications Act 1997 that defines the legal conditions under which communications can be intercepted. To my understanding iiNet and any carrier or provider can do it for maintenance of their network, but if they reveal that information to an outsider (I'm not saying iiNet did), then they have crossed a very heavy, thick black line.

    How about an investigation into how the studios obtained their evidence? If it was by illegal means, then what does this do to their case?
    anonymous
  • Alternative options

    2 ways this can go. The US result, or the British result.

    In the US, the courts came down on the side of the customer. Some ISP's tried to throttle P2P traffic, and the courts shot them down saying it was discrimination. Things went downhill for the studios and ISP's from there.

    In Britain, the customers were simply given a bill for 300 pounds (or something like that), and told "pay that, or we'll see you in court"...

    I like to think our privacy laws, and our rights to backup copies of electronic data (which a DVD/CD is) will mean the courts will come down on the customers side. Only time will tell though.
    anonymous