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New piracy boss talks tough on ISPs

The Australian music industry's newly-appointed chief piracy investigator has warned Internet service providers (ISPs) that the current Swiftel case will herald a new regime of responsibility for copyright breaches.In his first interview since assuming the role, Michael Kerin, previously a Qantas investigator, said the prosecution of thePerth ISP for alleged online copyright infringement would send a clear signal to ISPs and file-sharing providers of the music industry's intentions.

The Australian music industry's newly-appointed chief piracy investigator has warned Internet service providers (ISPs) that the current Swiftel case will herald a new regime of responsibility for copyright breaches.

In his first interview since assuming the role, Michael Kerin, previously a Qantas investigator, said the prosecution of the Perth ISP for alleged online copyright infringement would send a clear signal to ISPs and file-sharing providers of the music industry's intentions.

Kerin replaces Michael Speck, who left the piracy watchdog but for his ongoing involvement in the Kazaa case.

Like Speck, the majority -- 16 years -- of Kerin's career has been spent in the NSW Police. There he worked in a range of areas such as electronic enforcement and counter-terrorism. For the last two years he conducted internal and external theft and fraud investigations at Qantas.

Since joining the Music Industry Piracy Investigations (MIPI) unit last month, Kerin said he was meeting journalists, musicians and others to "fully form" his views on digital piracy.

However, he was adamant MIPI would force Australian ISPs to implement 'take-down' regimes for online copyright breaches, and act on them.

"It will be interesting to see the attitude of ISPs [to the result of the Swiftel case]."

The ISP industry has in the past been reluctant to take legal responsibility for all traffic carried on its networks.

MIPI claims about 50 ISPs around Australia shut down overnight the day the legal action was launched.

"I suppose some industry associations may feel the law is grey," Kerin said.

"However, the Swiftel case will allow us to put that into perspective.

"If they're going to be reckless with the law, they will be targeted."

The Internet Industry Association (IIA), of which Swiftel parent company People Telecom is a member, is working on a copyright code of practice for ISPs to deal with liability.

However, IIA chief executive Peter Coroneos said such a takedown regime was already in place, and that its members complied with every accurate takedown request.

He said the debate needed to move from liability issues to issues of control.

"It comes down to what degree is it reasonable for ISPs to take control of activity?," he said.

"If someone says I own the rights to a song [on an ISP network], it's not always transparent to an ISP.

"And if an ISP does remove that material but gets it wrong, they could be in breach of someone else's rights," he said.

"You wouldn't want a situation where all content on the Internet had to be scanned because there's a chance a law might be infringed."

MIPI and IIA stakeholders will continue to be involved with the code's development until it is published before the end of the year.

ISPs and peer-to-peer networks were the focus of MIPI's efforts, Kerin said, as they could be large-scale facilitators of piracy.

"I like to keep things simple," Kerin said.

"The people we have litigated and prosecuted have been flagrantly in breach of the law.

"I think we've exposed the myths about people painting themselves as 'digital revolutionaries'."

In keeping with this, he said he would maintain Speck's line that end-users would not be targeted. This tactic has caused controversy overseas where the industry has prosecuted children and the elderly for online piracy.

"We wouldn't like to see those headlines in Australia," he said.