US piracy deal right for Australia: AFACT

US piracy deal right for Australia: AFACT

Summary: The Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) has welcomed reports that US internet service providers (ISPs) and film studios are close to an agreement on how to deal with piracy; however, the Internet Industry Association is adopting a wait-and-see approach.


The Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) has welcomed reports that US internet service providers (ISPs) and film studios are close to an agreement on how to deal with piracy; however, the Internet Industry Association is adopting a wait-and-see approach.

Last week, ZDNet Australia's sister site CNET revealed that a deal was close to being signed off between a group representing some of the biggest US ISPs and a number of media companies to deter users from infringing on copyright. The proposal would see ISPs issue written warnings to users caught illegally downloading copyrighted works. If the user continued to illegally download material, the ISP would eventually push a number of punishments, including limiting bandwidth or speed or only allowing the user to access certain websites. It would be at the ISP's discretion as to whether repeat offenders would have their accounts terminated.

According to sources, ISPs and copyright holders would share the costs for the operation of this system.

In Australia, AFACT has been pushing for a similar system, taking iiNet to court in 2008 alleging that it authorised its users to infringe on copyright by not acting on infringement notices sent by AFACT. It lost both the case and the appeal, but AFACT is now seeking to have the case heard in the High Court. The organisation told ZDNet Australia that it would like to see a system in Australia like that being negotiated in the US.

"This is no different to what we have been asking ISPs to do in Australia — send education notices to their customers, and then, for those repeat infringers who choose to ignore the education notices, implement a range of sanctions from those available to them and in accordance with their terms and conditions, to prevent continued copyright theft," AFACT said.

One of the contentious issues in the US model is the means of proving that a user has infringed on copyright, and it was this burden of proof that was a sticking point in one of the judge's rulings on the iiNet appeal. Under iiNet's own proposed model, this burden would shift to an independent mediator, which would investigate the claims of the copyright holders, and the costs of investigation would be shared between ISPs and copyright holders, as per the US proposal.

The Internet Industry Association is in the process of working on an ISP code of practice for dealing with piracy at an industry level, and outgoing CEO Peter Coroneous told ZDNet Australia that providers would be reluctant to come to an agreement with copyright holders until the iiNet court case is resolved.

"All eyes are on the High Court, who is due to hear a leave application to appeal the Full Federal Court's decision in August or early September," he said. "The prevailing view in the industry is that the High Court will hear the appeal so that it can pronounce on the question of authorisation, basically its first opportunity to do so in 25 years. The outcome of the appeal will put everyone in a position of greatest certainty.

"I don't see much appetite to negotiate a set of responses like those being developed in the US until the case is decided."

(Front page image credit: BitTorrent Download image by nrkbeta, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Topics: Piracy, Government AU, Security, Telcos, Tech Industry


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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  • My guess is that the difference in the US is that there would be $ changing hands e.g. media company says we will give you $x per user shutdown. Here in Australia, AFACT think that media companies should be able to simply lord it over everyone else - just like they do in all other aspects of their business.
  • Where is the independent review of proof in the US model, how are appeals handled. Mapping an IP address in a log to a punishable individual with due consideration of age, individual circumstances, criminal motivation, technology issues such as wireless leaching, bot activity etc is a system like unchecked private traffic tickets. As bandwidth gets cheaper I think people should open their wireless routers to protect themselves and take the ISP safe harbour defence. Does this mean a non-tech granny is now liable for million dollar damages because her router is open or she has an infection.
    • Add this in. With the NBN, there will be a lot of people bundling their internet and phone services into one cable. Non Tech Granny [NTG for short] will be a prime candidate for this. A lot of people will innocently have their networks left open, and with the tools out there leeching will be far easier.

      NTG gets disconnected, they lose their communication services as well. Does anyone out there seriously think AFACT will care? Does NTG even know where to start to fix things?

      Theres a whole push for NBN to advance work from home practices. Kid downloads moves, or Mum downloads the latest Days of our Lives or Eastenders, connection is severed. How does Dad keep his job?

      Too many questions, not enough answers. All AFACT and friends are interested in is maintaining their outdated business practices. Something needs to be done, but this isnt the answer.

      One thing I always remember learning in school is that when a significant portion of the population ignores a law, its time for that law to be changed. Copyright laws have their place, but its time they were altered so they were enforced as intended.

      As it stands, AFACT and friends treat someone who downloads a single song exactly the same as the bootleg pirates selling ripped movies as DVD's at the fleamarkets.
      • Interesting comment - I was once a trusted investigator for AFACT - how ironic that you use my name, it is indeed, not a common name.

        I don't necessarily disagree with your comments.

        Another Gav
  • So I live in an apartment block, and have WEP2 security on my hidden network. As far as I know, its secure. I get a warning, 2nd warning, 3rd warning, and then disconnection, when I know its not me. Wheres the proof?

    It could be me, it could be my flatmate, it could be a friend or family member abusing my generosity, it could be the kid next door who took the 5 minutes to sniff for my hidden network and hack it. The tools are out there for those that care to hunt them out.

    If it can be proved that it was ME that did the act, so be it. Send a warning, educate me, and if I keep doing it, disconnect me. No problems if it was me, I should know better, or at least have the chance to learn it was wrong.

    If all they can show as evidence is an IP address registered to me, well I can point them to the router that accesses that IP. After information hits that router, I couldnt tell you which of the 16 network capable devices in my house it went to. Can they? Half a dozen can be accessing the net at the same time.

    This is where I have a problem with the whole 3 strikes rule. The accusation comes from someone with a biased interest, and someone NOT empowered to administer the law. All they can do is accuse someone. But the 3 strikes rule says that accusation is enough, and you're guilty without the chance to prove otherwise.

    An IP address is not a person, its a piece of technology, and this is one of the main flaws in all 3 strikes approaches to piracy prevention.
  • If you are willing to go through your router logs (and you have a knowledge of MAC addressing), you can probably track down who it was leaching off your wireless for torrenting.

    But as was pointed out earlier, how does your "non-tech user" (might not necessarily be a granny) approach this, when they've learned enough to check and reply to e-mails, search for information, and maybe play on Facebook?