Hollywood Has Been Pressuring Australian Attorney General To Pressure ISPs Into Being Copyright Cops

from the because-of-course-they-are dept

For years, we followed the important iiNet case in Australia. Hollywood studios, which ran a group called AFACT in Australia, wanted to “set an example” of why ISPs should be liable for copyright infringement done on their networks, and deliberately chose iiNet to sue, believing the ISP was too small to mount a serious challenge. Instead, iiNet fought back strongly, making really strong points about how ridiculous it was to pin the blame on an ISP. The result was a complete victory for iiNet. It won at the district court, at the appeals court and finally at Australia’s high court.

Of course, Hollywood (AFACT is Australian-in-name-only — a Wikileaks State Department cable revealed it to be an operation wholly controlled by the MPAA in Hollywood) continued to freak out, leading the Australian government to hold “stakeholder” meetings between the entertainment industry and the ISPs (note: no public representatives, even though they’re the real stakeholders), to try to broker an agreement to make ISPs act as copyright cops. Of course, because Hollywood’s position is inherently ridiculous, the ISPs noted that it was like negotiating with a brick wall, and talks soon broke down. The ISPs made it clear that it was silly to blame them when Hollywood itself was to blame by not making works available.

But, of course, Hollywood never stops. AFACT rebranded as the Australian Screen Association, and apparently has been very busy pumping new Australian Attorney General George Brandis full of misleading information and pure propaganda. We recently noted that Brandis was supporting website blocking and three strikes like programs, despite them failing elsewhere. And, he’s also come out against fair use, because, fuck the public, Hollywood is upset.

Josh Taylor over at ZDnet used the Freedom of Information Act to get emails from between Neil Gane — the “contractor” who ran AFACT and now the Australian Screen Association — and Brandis, showing an ongoing campaign in which Gane continued to push Brandis with a series of one-sided misleading emails about how anti-consumer programs in other countries were the way forward:

In nine emails from Gane to the Attorney-General’s department secretary, Roger Wilkins, and first assistant secretary in the civil law division, Matt Minogue, sent between the election and this year, obtained by ZDNet under Freedom of Information, Gane appears to be providing education notices of his own to the department, offering insights into how copyright infringement is being dealt with in other countries.

In one email pointing out Canada’s moves, he notes that the Canadian government was not buying into the notion that ISPs should be compensated for having to warn customers for downloading infringing content.

There are a number of other emails, including a few that regular Techdirt readers may find especially amusing, including one mocking the “vocal minority” who were complaining that draconian copyright enforcement on things like Game of Thrones downloading might have serious unintended consequences. Update: The “vocal minority” has responded.

Meanwhile, Brandis — who has also been vehemently defending the NSA — recently took a trip to the US, in part to explore issues around copyright. Did he meet with copyright scholars or other experts on these issues? Nope. Instead, he met with the director of the Center for Copyright Information, who runs the US’s “six strikes” program. Brandis seems to have made up his mind, after being pushed on it by the MPAA, and with no respect at all to facts or reality.

All in all, Brandis appears to be only listening to one exceptionally biased party, even as a very long and thorough review process by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) found that fair use was important, and that copyright reform needed to be modernized to pay attention to the important rights and uses of the public. But apparently, that all gets thrown out the window because a Hollywood spokesperson has a direct email line to the Attorney General.

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Companies: afact, australian screen association, iinet, mpaa

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Comments on “Hollywood Has Been Pressuring Australian Attorney General To Pressure ISPs Into Being Copyright Cops”

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Violynne (profile) says:

Let’s hope for Australia Brandis was there only to placate these idiots and is now laughing his ass off on the plane, telling the pilot “Can you believe these idiots want us to force our ISPs to play police and upset our taxes we generate from them? The audacity Dodd and company believe we’ll fall for their numbers games. By the way, did you check out last night’s episode of Game of Thrones? I paid $50 for that episode!”

Anonymous Coward says:

I am yet to hear of people getting kicked off the internet over 6 strikes. While there may have been notices gone out to account holders, I’m yet to hear of that either.

It’s been near or about 2 years since it kicked off. So it appears another boondoggle arranged to boost the cost of internet access but nothing to do with getting people to buy more.

In today’s economy not many people are buying. They are having enough troubles affording rent and utilities on minimum wage while inflation has eaten into their non-existent pay increases. In the efforts to dodge having to help pay for ACA, most have reduced work hours, resulting in even less disposable income.

But we all know the drum is being beaten because it’s about piracy, not about poor business practices and high prices.

ECA (profile) says:


Being PAID to listen and understand a CORP position..
Being a LAWYER, do you really believe your Client is NOT guilty? No matter what he says.

I Wonder sometimes, HOW much money they would save NOT FIGHTING IT..
HOw much money NOT given to:
TPP/NAFTA/ and other treaties

For ALL that money SPENT..they could create a GREAT WEB SITE and show the movies/video/music..that we want and ADVERT and get MORE MONEY..

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:


That word… I do not think it means what you think it means… Come on, it takes less time for people to click the link to show the comment and read it than it did for you to copy and paste it.


Erm, are you going to make people recite the entire script of The Princess Bride?

Unless you meant to add the words “badly, with no care for accuracy, due process or effectiveness”, in which case you’re both probably right.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Ah but our IP laws were enforced by the courts all the way up to the High Court of Australia (The equiv. to your Supreme) and AFACT/ASA dont like that fact and instead are trying to get things enforced that are actually verboten under our current copyright laws (and other laws too)

So not only are you not correct you do not have any truth in your statement and instead show how much of a fool (and US centric) you really are.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Pressure is not a problem as long as there is a sufficient counter-pressure. When talking about IP the counter-pressure is not economically feasible to take note of. The economic imbalance of the pressure is the true problem since money buys opinions (though not as directly as most people imagine!).

Attorney generals – particularly under european legal systems like Australia – and judges should stay economically and associately impartial to politics. Especially in these imbalance areas.
Unfortunately the foundation for lobbying often starts in court, which makes it viable to put money into influencing the legal system…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

No different to any of the other political parties here. They all have their masters who do not have the well-being of the country as a priority.

Don’t forget you can speak to your local representative and if necessary start working on a ground swell to get them removed at the next election. Mind you, the one who replaces them may be no better, but you do have options.

Anonymous Coward says:

if they haven’t already, perhaps getting these emails printed in the Australian press might just get things changed? letting the public know what a person in a seriously influential position is going to do, namely whatever Hollywood tells him, rather than what is best for the Australian public will help to get his mind changed? also perhaps pointing him to what is happening in the EU might also give a suggestion or two!

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