Linux blunder Down Under could land MPAA in court

The movie industry body's search for illegal files has led it to make false accusations against Linux Australia - a move that could end in a lawsuit
Written by Brendon Chase, Contributor

What seems to be an embarrassing blunder by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) in its hunt for online pirates has prompted Linux Australia to contact its legal representatives and warn of a possible breach of Australian law.

Linux Australia president Pia Smith told Builder AU the MPAA had issued Linux Australia with a notice of claimed infringement demanding the group cease providing access to two copyrighted movies -- one called "Grind" and the other "Twisted" -- and ordering it to "take appropriate action against the account holder".

However, the files in question had nothing to do with those movies. The file entitled Twisted is a download of the popular framework written in Python and Grind refers to a download of Valgrind, a tool for developers to locate memory management.

The MPAA has no legal rights over this software.

Smith told Builder AU the incident demonstrated that the process used to locate allegedly illegal files on Australian servers was flawed, and the MPAA could be infringing a number of local laws.

"We realised that the MPAA must be doing blind keyword matching against Internet content, and then sending out automatic take-down notices with no real research or double checks," Smith said.

"This seems to be a huge misuse of resources, an infringement upon various global spam laws, an infringement upon our own Copyright Act under Section 202 and needless stress and cost upon small Australian organisations and companies," Smith said.

It is understood Linux Australia's legal counsel will be contacting the MPAA to inform them of the mistake and legal implications of their actions.

"Linux Australia is concerned that this kind of shoot-in-the-dark approach to copyright protection is potentially damaging for Australian organisations and companies," Smith added.

"Organisations that participate in such behaviour should be held accountable, and forced to put at least some effort into researching the validity of their keyword searches."

The MPAA did not return Builder AU's calls last week regarding the matter.

Editorial standards