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 @ 9:38pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "First is internet speed versus "real world" speed. By the time a court case meanders through the legal system even to the point of obliging iiNet to reveal client information, it could be months or years."

    If the RIAA doesn't have probable cause of course it will be difficult to convince a court of anything. What's wrong with that? Why should we let the RIAA decide if they have probable cause and set their own standards.

    "If need be, the legal system needs to be adapted to allowed for a direct inquiry by the courts on short notice, on the basis of the sworn statement of the copyright holder."

    No, this is not good enough. On the basis of sworn statements of the copyright holder? Why should we trust the RIAA or anything it says? Because they say so? Not good enough.

    "Basically, if they say "we cannot stop this, because we are only a service provider", they should be obliged to state who they are providing service for."

    First you must prove there is something to stop. Hence a court order.

    "It shouldn't be any different than figuring out where a phone number is assigned or who the client is of a cell phone."

    To some degree one can know where an IP address is assigned, usually the hostmask gives a general idea. But one cannot call up a phone company and arbitrarily ask for the exact address of the person.

    "There should not be a third choice that says "we agree something is wrong, but without a court order, we cannot point you in the right direction"."

    This should be the only option the ISP has.

    "The system right now is remarkably one sided."

    I agree, intellectual property lasts way too long and the laws are remarkably one sided in favor of rich and powerful corporations at public expense.

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