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AFACT’s appeal against iiNet decision dismissed

The phones must be running hot in Attorney-General Nicola Roxon’s and Communication Minister Stephen Conroy’s offices this afternoon. Internet service provider iiNet just won its long-running legal battle against the massed forces of Hollywood, but there’s some gotchas buried in the High Court decision.

The #iiTrial, officially Roadshow Films & others v iiNet Limited, kicked off in the Federal Court in 2009 when 34 Australian and US film and TV copyright-holders alleged that iiNet was “authorising” (in the technical legal sense) the copyright-infringing actions of its customers by failing to act on the complaints they’d filed. The case was informally called AFACT v iiNet after the industry lobby, the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft.

iiNet enjoyed a comprehensive win in February 2010, and won the Full Federal Court appeal (kinda) in February 2011.

This High Court appeal being unanimously dismissed makes it a three-nil win for the ISP, as the summary of the judgement explains.

The court observed that iiNet had no direct technical power to prevent its customers from using the BitTorrent system to infringe copyright in the appellants’ films. Rather, the extent of iiNet’s power to prevent its customers from infringing the appellants’ copyright was limited to an indirect power to terminate its contractual relationship with its customers. Further, the court held that the information contained in the AFACT notices, as and when they were served, did not provide iiNet with a reasonable basis for sending warning notices to individual customers containing threats to suspend or terminate those customers’ accounts.”

But as the court’s full decision makes clear in paragraph five, the key question in this appeal, whether iiNet authorised its customers’ copyright-infringing acts, “depends upon all the facts of the case”. That is, things might have turned out differently had AFACT or iiNet handled things differently. We’ll never know.

The court also provides some less-than-subtle hints that the government might wish to have a look at this.

When first enacted in 1968, the Copyright Act ran for around 100 pages. But by 2007 it was more than five times the size, what with changes needed for the US Free Trade Agreement as well as massive technological changes. In paragraph 120:

The history of the Act since 1968 shows that the Parliament is more responsive to pressures for change to accommodate new circumstances than in the past. Those pressures are best resolved by legislative processes rather than by any extreme exercise in statutory interpretation by judicial decisions.”

It’s easy to imagine the government listening with sympathy once more to the poor, struggling copyright industries. Only today the PM announced a $12.8 million bribe, sorry, gift to the producers of The Wolverine. That certainly “sends a message”, as the phrase goes, no?

More ominously, from the internet industry’s point of view, is this from paragraph 79:

The difficulties of enforcement which such infringements pose for copyright owners have been addressed elsewhere, in constitutional settings different from our own, by specially targeted legislative schemes, some of which incorporate co-operative industry protocols, some of which require judicial involvement in the termination of internet accounts, and some of which provide for the sharing of enforcement costs between ISPs and copyright owners.”

We’re talking the so-called “graduated response” and “three-strikes” laws such as those already enacted very close to home in New Zealand.

A handful of countries have said such laws are unconstitutional. Internet access is now such a fundamental part of society that access is a human right. Cutting off a household to punish one transgressor is unreasonable. But of course that freedom to communicate human right thing ain’t so strongly legislated here in Australia.

As deadline approaches the legal experts are still perusing the decision and discussing it — via Twitter, of course.

Well, on a first reading, the #iitrial judgment looks like a genuine win, and, as @rgibli predicted, a retreat from the FFC’s [Full Federal Court’s] views,” tweeted Kimberlee Weatherall, associate professor at the University of Sydney’s law school.

The finding that the power to terminate subscribers was indirect only is a retreat from FFC’s view that termination could be reasonable,” she added.

Peter Black, who teaches internet law at the Queensland University of Technology, agreed. “It does indeed — it is most encouraging. But it also just means that the battle shifts squarely to law reform and the development of an industry protocol,” he tweeted.

As the High Court said in paragraph 77:

The appellants’ submission … assumes obligations on the part of an ISP which the Copyright Act does not impose.”

So let’s just change the Copyright Act, right? Stand by.

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  • 1
    Meski
    Posted Friday, 20 April 2012 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    So let’s just change the Copyright Act, right? Stand by.

    ANd lets see it fall over in a relatively unfriendly lower and upper house. You think Abbott will support anything Labor proposes? You think Wilkie will support it after Labor gutted his pokie reform? You think the Greens in the upper house will support it?

    No, AFACT, you can’t haz cheezburger.

  • 2
    Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)
    Posted Friday, 20 April 2012 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    The popular perception is that Labor and Liberal are in constant conflict.

    But most legislation is passed with both major parties and The Greens supporting it. Not surprisingly, it is only the legislation which Labor wants and Liberals are against which makes the MSM.

    Sometimes Liberal and Labor both support something which the Greens are against. An important recently example is the changes to our extradition laws which make it easier for our government to send an Australian overseas for trial when the alleged crime has been committed in Australia. Surprise, surprise, this has got almost no coverage in the MSM.

    Unfortunately copyright law is something where both Liberal and Labor tend to strongly favour big business (our current laws are already tougher than the USA laws). I would not be surprised if the tag-team coalition of Liberal and Labor combined to further toughen our Australian laws. The Green’s opposing views will be ignored by the MSM, and the legislation will pass without most people knowing about it.

    I will not be surprised if in a few years time our laws are so tough, and there is active policing and prosecution, to the extent that we will be one of the only countries in the world where there is very little downloading of pirated movies.

    This should have been taken into account when calculating user demand for the NBN :)

  • 3
    Meski
    Posted Friday, 20 April 2012 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    @MWH: A good point, but Abbott might want to wait and take the credit.

    Think I want a bumpersticker that reads

    I voted for an NBN, and I will vote against any party that supports AFACT”

    Just checking pricing on cafepress…

  • 4
    Posted Friday, 20 April 2012 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    Senator Conroy has usually said that he’s sure the two industries should be able to work out something between them — with the veiled threat that if they don’t then he well and they’d likely both be unhappy.

    There’s lots of talk coming from both sides this afternoon. And that’s even before beer o’clock.

    Stand, as I say, by.

  • 5
    Posted Friday, 20 April 2012 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    I wouldn’t worry about adequate use of the NBN. Either we get a decent Netflix/Hulu provider, or people will still find a way to get movies and TV shows we currently aren’t allowed to access in a timely manner, or at all.

    This also applies to ebooks: remove geographic limitations, and get Hachette and HarperCollins to reverse their pre-Christmas 2011 decision to double ebook prices for Australians, and you have a working market. Maintain those unreasonable barriers, and watch people leave the market and find their own material. (I, personally, am so sick of having to write to authors and tell them I’m not allowed to buy their ebooks.)

    As Malone said in the ABC news article today, the best way to reduce content piracy is to provide timely and accessible legal content. For example, Baen Books have a Free Library of older titles and they sell all titles DRM-free: Baen have some of the top SF, fantasy and military authors but are rarely pirated.

    Did anyone else see the news on the French three-strikes law? They did a study on its results. Piracy was down by 60%, and sales … continued to fall.

    So, we invest a lot of taxpayer money in further restricting human rights in our country, criminalize downloading a 99c song, prosecute some hapless kids and bankrupt or imprison them, and the copyright industry will continue to lose money, not because its audience is dishonest, but because it has some seriously inefficient practices. Amid all the talk about productivity, you’d think these guys would try to improve access to their material, not waste time and money locking it away from willing customers.

  • 6
    JamesH
    Posted Friday, 20 April 2012 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    The link to the summary of the judgement in paragraph 4 is a link to a (presumably unrelated) murder case appeal about DNA evidence.

  • 7
    Meski
    Posted Friday, 20 April 2012 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    @STILGHERRIAN: Perhaps for a change, he’ll make the taxpayers/citizens/**VOTERS** happy.

  • 8
    Posted Friday, 20 April 2012 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    @ME SKI: You must be thinking of a different Stephen Conroy.

  • 9
    Michael de Angelos
    Posted Friday, 20 April 2012 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    So many are in the thrall of the internet which is operates . People, particularly tech writers and journalists promote the idea that Google, Facebook. twitter and the rest are God like entities rather than what they are : rapacious profit making corporations that are in conflict with other profit making corporations-the content providers like Hollywood.

    I’ve seen crikey writers object to the idea that Twitter should somehow censor libelous comments before they are twittered- despite it being an imposition that normal print publishers must do to avoid law suits.

    And Google , Twitter etc employ a mere few thousand world-wide whereas as I previously pointed out, the Stasi once employed 250,000 agents to compile the same information.

    I’ve even seen on crikey, BK imply that because a billionaire like Zuckerberg outrageously declares privacy is over, therefore it is. Boll**cks.

    Legislation will need to take care of those who infringe copyright and risk ruining it for everyone. Abbott will comply or be ruined by forces greater than he.

  • 10
    Meski
    Posted Friday, 20 April 2012 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    @LittleMath: Well, maybe. He is in charge of rolling out the NBN, I grant him an indulgence for that.

    @Michael: re Twitter and libel (or slander) - where’s the jurisdiction supposed to be? Print publishers are rather well defined in terms of location. Twitter? I’m not saying libel is to be ignored, but it requires some worldwide, rather than country or state boundaries.

    It wasn’t Zuckerberg, (he probably stole the saying) but Scott McNealy, chairman of Sun Microsystems, who in 1999 said, “You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it.” Scott was making an observation, but Zuckerberg is the one who liked the taste of it.

  • 11
    Gerry Hatrick, OAP
    Posted Friday, 20 April 2012 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    did not provide iiNet with a reasonable basis for sending warning notices to individual customers containing threats to suspend or terminate those customers’ accounts

    Interesting - which means that the emails other providers send out from these guys aren’t worth shit.
    Doesn’t work that way in America though, interesting…

  • 12
    Posted Friday, 20 April 2012 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    Sorry, folks, here is the correct link to the summary of the judgement.
    http://www.hcourt.gov.au/assets/publications/judgment-summaries/2012/hcasum16_2012_04_20_iiNet.pdf

    Here also is the audio of a conversation I just had on ABC 702 Sydney with me, presenter Richard Glover, and AFACT managing director Neil Gane.
    http://stilgherrian.com/conversations/talking-the-iitrial-decision-on-abc-702-sydney/

    @Michael de Angelos: Your description of Bernard Keane’s attitude to organisations like Facebook, Google etc is remarkably wide of the mark. I suggest you pop back and re-read what he actually writes — and in particular differentiate between stuff he reports other people as having said and his own opinions.

    Overall, the depiction of technically-literate writers and an undifferentiated mass of internet-supporters is both inaccurate and personally insulting.

    Equating Twitter to traditional publishing is something I personally think is utterly, utterly wrong.

    Twitter is the internet equivalent of gossip, people talking in a bar, or around the family dinner table — with the difference that it happens to be visible to others. It’s a conversation. Conversations are not “moderated” by editors who decide what can and can’t be said. They are guided by the reactions of those around us.

    We soon know when we say something out loud that we shouldn’t have. We see the other person’s body language, change the subject, apologise or just STFU. I believe the same sorts of social behaviours will evolve in time.

  • 13
    Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)
    Posted Friday, 20 April 2012 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    Apparently Australia has one of the highest rates of TV program piracy.

    It is easy to understand why when we look at how the networks treat Australian viewers. One not usually discussed reason is picture quality.

    Though now the majority of home will have a display capable of displaying high resolution, our networks are all moving backwards in regards to picture quality.

    This weekend network TEN are going to make a big fuss about how great it is that Formula 1 has moved to the main channel. I’m sure that most F1 fans will be thinking how pathetic it is that after a few years of showing F1 in high-definition (at least the low bit rate and thus low quality that is all we get in Oz) we will now only see it in standard definition.

    And network TEN showed Avatar in SD leaving its HD channel showing something else.

    The ABC is showing us the best of the BBC and its own programs all in just SD. Want to see programs such as Rake, The Straits, Time Travellers Guide, and even Woodley in High Definition - just wait for them to be shown overseas in HD and use channel BT (or pay the extremely high price that the ABC charge for it on Blu Ray).

    /rant

  • 14
    floorer
    Posted Friday, 20 April 2012 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    Stigherrian said “I believe the same sorts of social behaviours will evolve in time”.Yep social media / internet still in nappies.. how long have they been around? MWH,I don’t know if lack of resolution is a reason for piracy (more I want to watch it when I want to watch it / no adds)BUT I do agree we’re being scr*wed resolution wise on FTA. I watched some gridiron on Ten’s One HD and the clarity was stunning.Have to wonder where F1 is going to end up.

  • 15
    Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)
    Posted Friday, 20 April 2012 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    @FLOORER - I’ll be the first to admit that many people don’t even notice video quality. But there are many who do.

    TEN’s HD service is about 12 Mbps, whilst a blu-ray is often over 20 Mbps using a more efficient coding system.

    So the best of TEN HD, though much better picture quality than its SD programs, is very poor quality compared to what is broadcast overseas which comes close to blu-ray quality.

    F1 is my only sporting sin, and I feared that this year it would move to pay-tv (which I don’t have nor want). So at least I get to see it this year (with qualifying in HD, the main race in SD).

  • 16
    botswana bob
    Posted Friday, 20 April 2012 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    Why haven’t we heard from that ruff tuffie and aspiring internet censor Senator Conroy? Readers may recall that this ALP faction hoon loudly voiced all sorts of opinions about how strong the case of his mates, the American multi-national movie industry was and how feeble the iiNET defense was. Well, Senator? How about giving the taxpayers that fund your cushy lifestyle the benefit of your views, now that the High Court has told your Yankee friends to go rotate? Will you be doing their bidding and changing laws to give your American corporate friends what they couldn’t get from the bewigged legal tubs?

  • 17
    Liamj
    Posted Friday, 20 April 2012 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

    Great decision, thanks for nuances Stilgherrian.

    IP is over, it just doesn’t know it yet. I hope ACTA & RIA & News etc keep spending money fighting the p2p swarm - the harder they fight, the faster they’ll lose.

  • 18
    Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)
    Posted Friday, 20 April 2012 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    @LIAMJ,

    Can you think of a common legitimate application which uses huge p2p bandwidth?

    Using lots of p2p on your internet account does not prove that you are pirating, but it would give the police good grounds for suspecting that you are pirating, and that may result in a search of your computer.

    Just like the police searching your car if they suspect that you have drugs, if they find nothing you are innocent. So many will think what is wrong with the police checking what is on the computers of those who do lots of p2p downloads.

    With the pro-business, anti-human rights philosophies of the tag-team coalition of Labor and Liberal, it is not unlikely that anyone doing large downloads from sites which don’t supply legitimate content could be investigated.

    So LIAMJ, it is very possible that big business wins and the people loose.

  • 19
    Groucho
    Posted Saturday, 21 April 2012 at 12:28 am | Permalink

    @MWH

    You’ve just highlighted the problem with any debate involving technology and especially th internet. Most lay people can’t imagine legitimate use for technologies and so therefore all those that use them must be guilty.

    P2P is used for a lot more than just piracy although that may be its dominant use.

    Will the police also break down your door if you use encryption, VPNs, private networks or any number of other technology that can be used.

    Ignoring all of that try terabyte drives full of ripped movies being swapped among friends.

    There is no way around it. Distribution needs to be available online at a reasonable price and in a format that allows it to be integrated by a wide range of commercial and non profit platforms. The dream of media companies that control of distribution will deliver them premium yields is over.

    Regionalisation is over. Advertising paying for content is over.

    The introduction of the NBN has the capacity to kill FTA and Foxtel. It will remove much of the requirement for infrastructure investment to distribute content.

    Current media companies can either adapt or make way for those that do.

  • 20
    Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)
    Posted Saturday, 21 April 2012 at 12:41 am | Permalink

    @GROUCHO,

    I’m not a lay person as I worked at the Telstra Research Labs (before they were closed down) leading a group which worked on broadband services.

    My post asked people to point out a COMMON p2p application which results in huge amounts of download. I also pointed out that such large downloads were ‘grounds for suspecting’ and not proof of a crime.

    I think it would be difficult for a government to prevent people accessing information because there are many ways to hide this within ordinary traffic. But downloading LOTS of movies shows up in the volume used, and this cannot be hidden.

    Note that it would be easy to not include high volume downloads from legal providers.

  • 21
    geomac
    Posted Saturday, 21 April 2012 at 2:26 am | Permalink

    MICHAEL WILBUR-HAM (MWH)
    What expense do you think an ISP would incur to monitor traffic of a large client base and how much staff would be required to implement it ?
    So it would seem that the companies want the ISP to be a policeman of traffic but not contribute to that surveillance . Also I seem to recall some media story that the firm that started the court action was started up purely to perform this action , some brothers from NZ ? Apparently with links to porn companies as well as the the more recognised companies such as tv and movies.
    Off topic but curious for an answer about FB . How is that I can link to FB and share something from youtube and it goes on my page without me having signed in to my FB page ? I use Firefox for signing in to FB but I can also share using Safari which doesn,t have my logon details .
    I,ve never understood the mandatory filter idea that Conroy was pushing using a list that nobody can obtain . The list itself seems a very vague thing in that a lot of sites are apparently on it that are not in the criminal sphere . Another thing that bothered me was that apparently it needed only one or more complaints to whichever body controls it for a site to be put on the list . So a vexatious person can apply this and the site would be unaware because the list is not for public examination . How did that dentist get on the list ?

  • 22
    Cartledge Denis
    Posted Saturday, 21 April 2012 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    So we will do a US and start rigging legislation in favour of Big Business?

    No thanks, let them change their marketing models. As is usually the case, its the few who don’t like the status quo. Then that dissatisfaction becomes general as the status quo’s narrowly defined path affects more and more people, so change occurs.

    As we are continually told by those who trade in it, the Law is there for all. The unwritten message is that it not solely for special interests.

    Rather than listening to the bleating of business to change the law, maybe society should be listening to itself where the more than general dissatisfaction is that the cost model is out of whack, the distribution model isn’t working and the public consumption model is even worse than the above two models in that the Australian Free to Air TV broadcasting release is often months or years behind the US release or out of sync. Whereby with Internet TV people here can watch it as is it released overseas. So why not buy it the same way?

    If Business wants our money, they have to be responsive to society’s changing patterns and change their processes NOT expect Govt to legislate that society remains static.

    Also one could ask why AFACTS never took on Telstra or Optus, the process just ended smacks of intimidation.

  • 23
    Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)
    Posted Saturday, 21 April 2012 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    @GEOMAC,

    Of course each ISP already keeps a record of the amount of data used by every customer.

    There is talk of making the ISPs keep a permeant record of every interaction by every customer (i.e. store the URL, not the page delivered). Now if that record included the details of each torrent …

    We live in scary times!

  • 24
    Liamj
    Posted Saturday, 21 April 2012 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    @ MWH - i agree that it would be possible for ISPs to overwatch p2p traffic, but it would cost a motza, slow networks, result in uneven policing (flybynight isp: “psst - pay a bit more for our special plans..”) and imho create a public backlash.
    And as Groucho points out, mobile terabyte drives and in-person file swapping are now commonplace, no ISP or law will stop that (if my parents generation could smuggle VHS tapes in, i reckon a terabyte or two should be a cinch).

  • 25
    drsmithy
    Posted Saturday, 21 April 2012 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Can you think of a common legitimate application which uses huge p2p bandwidth?

    Can you think of a common legitimate application which uses huge bandwidth at all ?

  • 26
    Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)
    Posted Saturday, 21 April 2012 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    There are many legal video streaming services, the catch-up services provided by our TV networks, youtube, etc

    But it is easy for anyone who looks at a user’s log to see that these downloads are legal.

    The probability that a huge p2p download is legal content must be well below 50%, maybe even lower than 10%.

  • 27
    drsmithy
    Posted Saturday, 21 April 2012 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    There are many legal video streaming services, the catch-up services provided by our TV networks, youtube, etc

    These could quite easily leverage P2P technology.

    But it is easy for anyone who looks at a user’s log to see that these downloads are legal.

    Really ? How about someone using a proxy or VPN to stream video from a US site that doesn’t have a license to distribute in Australia ?

    How about someone watching a Youtube video that is itself a copyright infringement ? These are stupidly trivial to find on Youtube, and include pretty much any instance where there is music playing.

    The probability that a huge p2p download is legal content must be well below 50%, maybe even lower than 10%.

    Until the Copyright reform of 2006 it was illegal to format shift.

    Therefore it was nearly a 100% guarantee that anyone with a VCR was “pirating” content.

    Similarly, until 2006 it was, for all practical purposes, a 100% guarantee that someone who owned an iPod was “pirating” music (now, it’s probably only about 95%).

    Would you agree that, before 2006, mere ownership of a VCR or iPod was sufficient justification for the police to enter someone’s house and search for copyright-infringing materials ?

  • 28
    drsmithy
    Posted Saturday, 21 April 2012 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    Advertising paying for content is over.

    On this I disagree. I think the internet and streaming video offers *more* opportunity for advertising to pay for content creation.

    Unlike TV broadcasts, advertisements inserted into streamed video can be demographically targeted with pinpoint accuracy (audience age, time of watching, geographic location, etc).

    Unlike time-shifted TV broadcasts, advertisements embedded in streaming video cannot be skipped.

    I expect that, within the decade, streaming videos will be manipulated “live” to insert localised product-placement advertisements directly into the content itself (eg: the billboard in the background of a scene in an American show could be overlaid with an ad for an Australian product when it streams to an Australian user, a UK product when it streams to a UK user, etc).

    Video streaming is opening up a whole new world of advertising possibilities. The trouble is the Copyright industry is almost incomprehensively greedy, and wants this revenue stream as an addition to its existing ones, rather than as a replacement.

  • 29
    drsmithy
    Posted Saturday, 21 April 2012 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    My post asked people to point out a COMMON p2p application which results in huge amounts of download. I also pointed out that such large downloads were ‘grounds for suspecting’ and not proof of a crime.

    This is like saying walking around in Kings Cross is “grounds for suspecting” you’re a drug dealer.

    The courts would utterly demolish anyone trying to rely on download volume as grounds. Even connecting to an active torrent and observing data being transmitted to an IP would be shaky grounds for investigating the account owner of that IP, since an IP does not uniquely identify an individual. It could be anyone in the household or, if that person keeps an open wifi network (as I do) anyone within range of that network.

  • 30
    Michael de Angelos
    Posted Saturday, 21 April 2012 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    Stilgherrian :
    you could have supplied a link to support your condemnation of my post but you are wrong .

    On the 17th Feb 2012 in an article titled “Who’s sued Twitter? ” BK is clearly hostile to the outcome of the case and to anyone who dares defend their reputation but at least he appears to be in agreement with Andrew Bolt.

    BK even proposes that it is ludicrous that a profit making corporation like Twitter should subject it’s emplyees to checking whether tweets are libelous or not.

    You make a bizarre comparison to twitter etc being like gossip around the dinner table. It is not-it can be gossip or defamations broadcast to the world and quite deliberately whereas those gossiping in private are not usually (but can be )open to defamation claims.

    You do not speak for all tech writers as I do not speak for the public so your personal feelings of insult are rediculous. A bit of a nerve really taking on umbrage on behalf of the world’s technical journalists but not unusual in an industry that infers it knows what is best for the general public.

    So many people (including many tech writers)infer that the world has changed because of the internet (questionable) and therefore all boundaries have vanished. They seem to have fused the actual mechanics of airwaves or in this case the internet with the interests of private corporations.

    The world did not change it’s morals because the telephone or the printing press was invented. Words said by indiviuals over the telephone or published in print can be damaging but you don’t blame the telephone-you blame the conveyer of information.

    On the internet it is the corporations providing platforms that are attempting to use weasel interpretations of the law to avoid responsibilty as in BK’s bizarre defence of Twitter and it’s billions of dollars that he does not want to see spent on a small band of employees ensuring defamation is not perpetuated by Twitterers.

    The net is here but people deserve the same rights they have always had to protect reputations. And it isn’t up to indiviuals to relinquish those rights because a few US billionaires have decided the game has changed.

    Meski: no, the world doesn’t need to change nor countries surrender their sovereign right to create laws because Yahoo or Blogger appeared on the scene. The more successful legal actions taken against these corporations (as recent ones against Yahoo and Google have been in Australia) the sooner they will protect people’s right s not to be defamed.
    And it was Zuckerberg who recently said that as privacy is basically ‘over’ people may as well surrender to Facebook’s ownership of your information.

    Anyone who thinks “social behaviours will evolve in time’ has not taken note that all the internet has done is provide information overload , easy access to porn and a platform for people to hide behind screen names and post their Poison Pen letters en masse.

    Intelligence (apart for government spying) is not growing because of the net. The oppositie is happening-a dumbing down is occuring.

  • 31
    Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)
    Posted Saturday, 21 April 2012 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    @DRSMITH,

    The threat of what might happen that I’m pointing out is very real. This does not mean that it will happen, but we need to be aware of the possibility.

    Someone walking around Kings Cross might be judged as reasonable for the police to search on the grounds that they suspect they have drugs. Similarly someone who has downloaded large volumes of date not from a known legitimate source could one day be grounds for looking at that person’s computer, and of course prosecution would only happen if pirated material was found.

  • 32
    drsmithy
    Posted Saturday, 21 April 2012 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    The threat of what might happen that I’m pointing out is very real.

    Based on what legal precedents here or in other countries ?

    This does not mean that it will happen, but we need to be aware of the possibility.

    If the Courts are prepared to throw away that level of personal privacy and legal rights, we’re likely to have much bigger concerns than being sprung downloading movies.

  • 33
    Groucho
    Posted Sunday, 22 April 2012 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    @MWH

    I’m not sure exactly what your suggesting. But if you are advocating a limit on bandwidth or quota to satisfy the failing business models of an industry that refuses to adapt then I suggest you’ve lost all persepective.

    Like most things in technology when bottlenecks are removed new industry develops and things that were previously science fiction become possible. Going back to dial up would be a good example. Think of all the legal intenet traffic that would affect.

    It wasn’t so long ago the all music downloaded online was piracy. Now we have iTunes and other services.

    P2P with something like the NBN becomes even more attractive for legitimate use.

    Limiting bandwidth would presumable stop end users from chosing which legal HiDef (and not just today’1 1080p) services to subscribe to and from which regions.

    What the industry is advocating has less to do with protecting IP and more about protecting a business model. It is the equivalent of region coding.

    Apple dropped DRM and guess what? They still make lots of money. I don’t even think twice about where to get my music from even if it is free ITunes is so easy.

    I’ve got a couple hundred gigs of my own generated hidef home movies and pictures. What I would give for the bandwidth to easily do automated regular backups to the cloud.

    Its a service that could be provided at low cost by smaller businesses with the NBN or I could just set something up at grandma’s house and back up to that.

    Interestingly I wonder how business would react if others were given oversight of every aspect of their activities just in case.

  • 34
    Meski
    Posted Monday, 23 April 2012 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    @MWH - Many games (for instance, World of Warcraft, and other Blizzard games) use bitTorrent to download their games, and subsequent patches for them. But there’s *only* about 10million plus people involved in that. Blizzard, btw, are owned by Vivendi, who just got out of NBC Universal (a member of MPAA). Does this mean they don’t see a future in it?

  • 35
    Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)
    Posted Monday, 23 April 2012 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    So many posters have missed the points that I’m making on something as simple as technology that it is easy to see how with something more complicated like politics all hope is lost.

    @Meski - I’ve never claimed that all p2p (e.g. bitTorrent) content is illegal. But your game example is good for making my point. How many times will a user download World of Warcraft and similar games? Not very often. People who download lots of movies will be using much higher volumes. Also note that if the torrent can be checked then it would be easy to automatically ignore popular legal content.

    @Groucho - I never said anything about limiting bandwidth or limited quotas. (But I have pointed out that if pirating movies and TV shows becomes too risky for most people to do, then it might be hard for many users to justify paying for a large download quota).

    @DrSmithy - You have missed the point of the article and the discussion. The main point is that there is a POSSIBILITY that the government will CHANGE THE LAWS in favour of big business to make it much easier to prosecute piracy. My main point (as someone who understands the technology) is that if the laws changed and records had to be kept, and these could be analysed by copyright owners, then it would be very easy to have a huge crack-down on those who download illegal movies and TV shows.

  • 36
    Meski
    Posted Monday, 23 April 2012 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    @MWH: How many times do we get a patch? Often, weekly, when there’s a new expansion out, even more often than that. That’s *why* they use bitTorrent. Another P2P use would be distributed source repositories. Also quite legal. If you wanted to do illegal content, I’d suggest VPN to a country that did not pursue copyright violations (hello China, etc) and run bitTorrent from the far ‘end’ of the VPN. No government will block or prosecute VPN use, because big business uses it so much.

    Re download quotas: They are getting larger, and cheaper, in a bandwidth version of Moores Law.

    Like I’ve said elsewhere, let MPAA and AFACT sell content over bitTorrent in a timely and cost effective manner, and noone would complain. Their strawman argument is that they cannot compete with free. Guess what? Most of us don’t expect free.

  • 37
    drsmithy
    Posted Monday, 23 April 2012 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    You have missed the point of the article and the discussion.

    No, I haven’t. I made two points in turn:

    That a change in law of such magnitude that is actually held up by the court system is fairly unlikely (and would suggest much larger problems in society as a whole).

    That any sort of “record keeping” is trivially circumventable should it become necessary. Any crack-down, assuming it even got very far off the ground, would be short-lived and simply lead to a proliferation of things like protocol encryption and VPNs to endpoints in more privacy-friendly countries.

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