We've been following the lawsuit down in Australia, where AFACT, the local entertainment industry "anti-piracy" group, has sued ISP iiNet
, complaining that the ISP refused to do anything when it would send over infringement notices. From the beginning, iiNet's response has been clear:
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'.
AFACT continues to insist that iiNet should be responsible for becoming copyright cops themselves, and had won an early battle, forcing iiNet to hand over "sample" records
of users. However, Big Al points us to the latest news, where iiNet is claiming that not complying with AFACT's usual demands (it is handing over the sample data after working out the details) isn't just an issue of iiNet not wanting to be AFACT's enforcer, but that it violates Australia's telecom act
, and could be a serious breach of privacy laws:
"Under the Act, it is illegal for iiNet to use customers' personal information in the manner demanded by AFACT without a court order or warrant. Breaches of the privacy provisions of the Act can attract a two-year gaol sentence."
Separately, iiNet noted:
"To examine customer communications on the basis of a third party's allegations would be a criminal act for us to engage in."
"Our starting position on this would be there is good public policy reasons for why Australia Post should not be opening your letters. And good reasons for why carriers should not be listening to your phone calls or looking at what you download. Our view is that would constitute a criminal offence."
It should come as no surprise that AFACT isn't buying this, calling it a "very novel" argument and one it hadn't seen before, and claiming that IP address information is not the sort of information that's meant to be included under the telco act, since it's not really "confidential." This case just gets more and more fun to watch (though, if I had to guess, iiNet's arguments probably won't prevail).