Australian ISP still battling US copyright claim

Although it is unclear whether US-based MediaForce, claiming to represent AOL Time Warner, can take action against Australian ISPs for alleged copyright infringements, the company is continuing to pile on the pressure

A United States company claiming to represent entertainment heavyweight AOL Time Warner is continuing to pursue Australia's Internet community over alleged copyright breaches.

The move comes despite ongoing uncertainty over whether the company, MediaForce, could bring proceedings against an Australian Internet service provider.

The New York-headquartered MediaForce sent an email to Australian Internet network provider Comindico demanding an individual allegedly offering download copies of the movie "Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" over the Internet have their access privileges removed and be disciplined. "Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" is the property of New Line Cinema, a division of AOL Time Warner.

It is understood Comindico forwarded the email, authored by Mark Weaver, MediaForce's director of enforcement, to the ISP holding the user's account, within the last couple of days. David Foreman, the director of corporate affairs and regulatory for Comindico, confirmed the company had been receiving letters from MediaForce for "some months" and had been forwarding them on to relevant ISPs.

Weaver's email, which cites the date, time and IP address from which the alleged breach was conducted, claims its statements are accurate "under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of California and under the laws of the United States."

Weaver's message also claims that "...we are authorised to act on behalf of the owner of the exclusive rights being infringed as set forth in this notification".

However, while the company's email concludes with a polite request for prompt assistance and cooperation from the service provider, its Web site signals a more heavy-handed stance. Outlining the steps MediaForce takes in deploying its flagship MediaSentry Web search product, it notes that "in the event in which a service provider fails to act in a timely fashion, a team of in-house copyright law experts swiftly escalates the complaint".

MediaForce also claims that, after locating and confirming a copyright infringement, "MediaSentry immediately notifies the service provider in accordance with the infringer's local copyright law to block the consumer's access to the network until the infringing works [are] removed".

However, the notification sent initially to Comindico cites only specific provisions of the United States Copyright Act when referring to the legal backing of its push. Its international references are vague: "This conduct may also violate the laws of other countries, international law, and/or treaty obligations."

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