Austalian ISP Stands Up For Users In Court -- Claims They're Not Violating Copyright
from the this-could-get-interesting... dept
They send us a list of IP addresses and say 'this IP address was involved in a breach on this date'. We look at that say 'well what do you want us to do with this? We can't release the person's details to you on the basis of an allegation and we can't go and kick the customer off on the basis of an allegation from someone else'. So we say 'you are alleging the person has broken the law; we're passing it to the police. Let them deal with it'.The case is moving forward now, and iiNet has kicked things off by suggesting that users sharing files on a one-to-one basis via BitTorrent don't seem to be violating Australian copyright law. Specifically, iiNet seems to be saying that using BitTorrent doesn't violate copyright because a one-to-one trade isn't distributing the content publicly (a version of the "making available" debate still going on in the US in some circles) and also pointing out that since BitTorrent breaks files up into so many small pieces, no individual user appears to be distributing enough to be considered copyright infringement.
While the argument does, in fact, make plenty of sense -- I wonder if it will actually fly in court. The entertainment industry has convinced so many people that any sort of unauthorized use of content is "piracy" that an emotional argument may prevail. In fact, the movie studios already seem to be going for the emotional argument expressing shock that iiNet can claim that its customers aren't violating copyright law.
The case will be an interesting one to follow -- though, you know if iiNet prevails, lobbyists will move quite quickly to push the Australian government to change copyright law to clarify the issue. Just watch: if it happens, there will be a rash of stories about how Australia "has to" do this to "comply with international treaties." It's how these things work.
To be honest, I'm surprised iiNet is taking such an extreme position. It seems like sticking with the "we're just the neutral service provider" response would have a higher likelihood of success.