iiNet Says Complying With Anti-Piracy Complaints Would Violate Telecom Laws

from the privacy-anyone? dept

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).

Filed Under: australia, copyright, infringement, isps, liability
Companies: afact, iinet


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2009 @ 8:32pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "If the blog host doesn't want to take the heat, they need to learn how to point fingers appropriately."

    Fine, what's your first and last name. Then give me a picture with your drivers license right next to it and I want your IP address, I want mike to confirm it (since he should be allowed to point fingers), and I want you to write the IP address on a piece of paper and hold it up with your drivers license in the high quality picture. Post here.

    No, people shouldn't give away personal information about someone to a stranger anymore than a business should do such a thing. Random people can't just ask a blogger for the IP addresses of others. Just like if some random person called a business and asked about a customers personal information. What if I can just look at your nick, ask Mike for your IP address because you said something that somehow offends me, and then go to your ISP and get your address and then post it on techdirt. How would you appreciate that? What if the laws just allow any random person to do that? The laws should do no such thing. The RIAA is no exception. Why should we simply trust them? We shouldn't, especially given their history of being retarded ( http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20090811/0152565837.shtml ).

    "Basically, the amount of effort required to prove the case "john doe" to be able to then go and get the information is almost senseless."

    The RIAA needs to prove probable cause. If the RIAA has probable cause then they should have no problems proving it to a court. It should require little to no effort. Yet if they don't have probable cause then, yes, it would be very difficult to prove it. That's the whole point. So if you're arguing that it's difficult that just means they don't have probable cause. They don't get to decide on their own whether or not they have probable cause. Otherwise I can just decide right now, by my own standards, that I have probable cause to believe you broke into my house (assuming someone did) and demand your IP address and then demand your address from my ISP and receive it. NO, the system doesn't work that way. The RIAA is no exception.

    "Basically, this puts copyright holders in an insanely bad position to start with, because they don't have the ability to know who is stealing their stuff."

    So we should just allow them to inspect our houses with no probable cause at will at their arbitrary decision simply because to not allow them would not give them the ability to know who is stealing their stuff. People should simply be assumed guilty until proven innocent because there is the potential someone might be guilty and if we don't invade everyone's privacy then we can't know if you're stealing an artists stuff. Someone might have given you a CD last week with pirated stuff. With that logic we should just allow the RIAA to search your house right now at will without any intervention from courts or anyone. I don't know if you have pirated stuff, so lets all just search your house arbitrarily. Allowing such a thing opens the door to all sorts of abuses.

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