back to article Landmark ISP piracy case could kick thousands offline

A landmark Australian court case could see thousands of Australians losing their internet connection, and has major implications worldwide for the law on copyright. The landmark case started on 6 October in Sydney's Federal Court. A group of 34 film companies, represented by the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft ( …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Mike Echo

    Can of worms

    This case has generated a lot of interest here but, as we all know when dealing with the law, the end result may not have any relationship to "what is right" and "commonsense".

  2. Rob 101


    Let's take local councils to court for allowing people to drive illegally on their roads.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Stupidity reigns...

    If AFACT win, will they then go after the government & vehical manufacturers because roads & cars/vans/busses/trains are also used for transportation of illegal films?

    Asking the ISPs to actively snoop on users is like asking on duty police to actively search each and every car that passes them.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Worldwide implications ?

    "A landmark Australian court case [..] has major implications worldwide for the law on copyright."

    How is it that the author thinks a ruling in a Australian court on copyright enforcement will have implications worldwide? Australian laws apply in Australia, not the world.

  5. Kevin Johnston Silver badge

    I wonder.....

    how many films include things like images of buildings which have IP protection (the Eiffel Tower springs to mind) where the studio does not have specific permission for that instance. I understand that there is probably a lot of legal history to allow them to do things the way they do but I do just wonder how hard it would be to find a few cases where they needed permission but didn't have it (or couldn't prove it in a court of law).

  6. seanj

    More nonsense...

    Let's take the manufacturers of certain sharp household cutlery to court because people are being stabbed with their product, yet they continue to release new stock into civilised society via these so-called "shops".... The heartless, complicit in countless murders, bastards...

    Maybe we could launch a class action lawsuit against Bic, for allowing the manufacture of pens which may or may not have been used to sign fraudulent MP expense forms... Filthy pilfering swine accomplices.

  7. evilbob thebob

    @Worldwide implications?

    Well, the majority of the film companies that are taking iiNet to court will be multinational. This is a test case for them...notice it's against Australia's third largest ISP, not the actual largest. If the film companies win the case, their legal teams around the world will formulate similar cases to see if the case can be replicated.

  8. alain williams Silver badge


    Someone ought to tell the postal workers that they could be prosecuted for delivering an ''illegal'' copy of a film on DVD -- that ought to keep them on strike 'till well past Christmas.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    I look forward to the postal service opening all of my mail

    because that is the next logical step.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    IANAL for Oz's telecommunications privacy laws. Seems to my untrained eye that this'll be thrown out of court faster than AFACT can blink.

  11. Rob

    Never gonna happen

    nuff said

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Self Defeating

    Interesting times ahead......

    Providing internet services might become so expensive (with all that monitoring, threat of legal action, etc) that all the ISPs will shut up shop and concentrate on something more profitable.

    And if there are no ISPs, there are no legal customers out there who will be able to legally purchase the wares of the Studios and Artists on the "new medium" that the internet is.

    We've seen the release of the England football game on the internet only. On demand services are growing by the day. But if the film studios et al make being an ISP too risky, they shoot their own future revenue streams in the foot.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "...a journalist for The Australian"

    A contradiction surely?

  14. The Beer Monster

    @AC 10:59

    "How is it that the author thinks a ruling in a Australian court on copyright enforcement will have implications worldwide? Australian laws apply in Australia, not the world".

    Australian lawyers obviously think they're American.

  15. Crazy Goat Man Al

    Re Worldwide implications

    If you read the article he tells you why he thinks that

    Again, a victory in Australia could see a number of carbon copy cases being mounted in other jurisdictions.

    He thinks that the film companies will try the same in other jurisdictions and get the same result. NOT that the result in australia will apply world wide.


  16. dave 81

    What an RIAA!

    This is cartel behaviour. Just like the RIAA, just like the British FACT who force us to what their unskippable shitty don't pirate propaganda on DVD's we buy.

    Next thing they will be locking my Blu-ray to only play on my player, so I can't take it round a friends house. RIAA, FACT, AFACT all total scum for pissing on their customers.

    Fuck them.

  17. AndrueC Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Give them their own medicine

    Take the film companies to court for promoting and glorifying criminal behaviour. While we're at it maybe there's a way we could start legal action against them for allowing a bunch of otherwise useless halfwits to get away with grossly overcharging for their services. Most of these film companies (and their dimwitted music counterparts) or just a leech inflicted on society. We don't need a middle man anylonger. Let artists sink or swim via YouTube or similar. If we like what they peddle we'll pay for it. Probably not enough to kick back in the lap of luxury but as long as they work reasonably hard we can probably help keep a roof over their heads.

    Basically the same deal we as consumers are supposed to have.

  18. Aaron 6


    I wonder how things would pan out of AFACT won this case and then tried in in say france where internet access is being made a human right, "hey mr isp please kick these people offline because they arnt giving us money. Sure wait there if we do that we deprive them of their legal human rights sorry no can do, kthankbi!"

    Im not a fan of a lot of things the french government do but that is one law I think should become much more universal.

  19. Martin 19

    @ Rob101

    "Let's take local councils to court for allowing people to drive illegally on their roads."

    No, this is more like "Let's take the councils to court for allowing vans containing stolen/counterfeit/etc goods on their roads- the council are obviously negligent for not stopping and inspecting every vehicle, every mile travelled, despite the huge cost and huge privacy implications involved"

  20. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Encryption is the key

    The article is a probable a little premature as the real consequence will depend upon the judge's ruling. Probably the most important issue will be whether the "evidence" supplied by the lobbying group is sufficient for any kind of civil action. Does it demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that a person has been involved in copyright infringement?

    As with most black markets the case is probably more harmful to the media industry in the long term. Declaring something illegal for which there is considerable demand is not an efficient solution to the problem: the demand is still there and will be filled by the black market. This is speculation on my part but I think black markets are almost always more efficient than regulated ones. And once you have an established black market the resources that the participants have often dwarf those of the regulatory bodies enabling them to be more flexible and ahead in the enforcement game. Indeed actions like this by AFACT can be likened to the US attempts to reduce the planting of coca or opium poppies: hugely expensive wastes of time. The comparison is slightly flawed in that, there does not seem to be a mafia organising and running and profiting from file-sharing. Instead you've got an unlmited guerilla army. That the file-sharing programmers are ahead in the implementation of network security best practices is difficult to deny. And they will continue to take the lead by adding and improving encryption and masking. One the packets get encrypted you can only deduce that they are part of a torrent but not what's in them which makes any analysis pretty poor evidence.

    Then, of course, what happens to those who do lose their access rights as a result? They're definitely able to consume the industry's own offering. In addition they might become adept and piggy-backing on other's access as the broadband and particularly wireless continues to spread apace.

    A market-based solution, as so often argued by The Register, is probably the best solution. The biggest problem is probably the industry working out how to square with their overly-regulated and demarcated markets. Indeed, the media industry is definitely guilty of monoply behaviour at an international level. Lucky for them there is no international monopolies commisssion.

  21. CD001

    don't try this at home

    Soooooooo...... if you were to rent a movie from say, Lovefilm and clone it a few times, post it to some mates, then the Royal Mail would be liable for your copyright infringement (or at least inducing it) ?

  22. Adam Foxton

    @Martin 19, Rob101

    Even closer to this actual case-

    "Let's take the councils to court for allowing vans containing photocopies and replicas of goods on their roads- the council are obviously negligent for not stopping and inspecting every vehicle, every mile travelled, despite the huge cost and huge privacy implications involved"

    Remember that- although they'll get no money directly from the copies- the artists haven't actually lost anything. You've not taken their song then deleted the original.


    "Let's take the councils to court for allowing vans containing even insignificantly small fractions of stolen/counterfeit/outright illegal etc goods on their roads- the council are obviously negligent for not stopping and inspecting every vehicle, every mile travelled, despite the huge cost and huge privacy implications involved. "

    But yeah, Martin 19's one is probably closer to one that might actually get to court.

    Fail because this is a court case that very definitely should!

  23. lpopman

    @Stupidity Reigns

    No, it's more akin to the Highways Agency (A Civil body as opposed to Law Enforcement) being asked to stop and search every vehicle on the road.

  24. Anonymous Coward


    Ah.. The Pirate party argument. Do you have any idea how much a film or album costs to make? We could have a music free for all, but that asumes that music dosent need any advertising or work. Do you realy think an artist could fund, organise and run a world tour, or a full album release?

  25. Simon.W

    Bloody ridiculous

    If the ISPs are made responsbile for what goes on in the Internet then the UK's Highways Agency should be made responsible for every crime committed on the roads. Just because a company provides a facility they should not be held accountable for how it is used.

    What's next? Car manufacturers being fined for people swerving back and forth along a road just for fun? Get rid of steering wheels now! Oh, hold on a minute...

  26. Simon B

    Dump the 180 folders on the prosecution in court!

    if all the copyright notices iiNet received from film studios over a five month period were printed, it would take 180 large folders and more than 12 trolleys to bring them into the court.

    Do it!! Take 180 folders in to court and dump them on the prosecutions desk andlook at the judge with that look what says "and how does he propose we handle THIS?!" ;-)

  27. Richard Jones 1

    A Better Solution

    Why not shut down the damned film companies? After all by making restricted copies available and tempting people to waste time watching them they are guilty of:

    1) Entrapment

    2) Encouraging a lack of exercise while wasting time watching their pap.

    3) Promoting negative stereo types.

    4) Upsetting large number of innocent internet users who may have to pay to protect these companies from consequences 1~3.

    5) Lets not consider the use of dodgy or illegal substances within their industry!

    6) As for those god-damned awful leaders on LEGAL DVDs, are they trying to promote piracy?

  28. g e

    It ocurred to me the other night that...

    The reason the media corps don't want to change the way they distro their films and music is because that's where they make a huge chunk of their money.

    If you take someone like EMI, they'll get the digital master, stamp out a gajillion cd's, presumably in a plant they have an interest in - and would lose money on if it stamped less cd's due to downloads - then they print up packaging - again through a company they presumably have in interest of some sort in which would lose them money from not printing - then shipping the stock out and so the chain of middleman mark-up begins. Don't forget they make a lot of money on 'breakage' of stock, too.

    When distribution becomes a download it's hard to see how they can make up the difference in revenue, especially when all their acts' mgmnt co's are saying 'you can now pay us more cos you no longer have alllll those horrible horrible distro overheads you've been whining about to us for the last ten years.'

    So in many ways it's possibly impossible for the media industries to move to an online model for distribution as they have obfuscated so much self-interested financial action between the physical creation of the media and its sale that to lose that stealth tax on the content creator really would break them.

    So in reality they're fighting to maintain a lucrative structured fraud/con against the artists. Afterall who'd ever expect a media corp to say 'we had a great run at this scam for the last 50 years, guys, it's over.' when they could just drag it out.

  29. spezzer

    And what will happen next...

    in the land of piracy, new laws mean new technology. If its not already out there then it wont take long before a new version of BitTorrent / UTorrent / WhateverTorrent comes along and the ISPs wont be able to detect illegal downloads - much to thier relief! In fact it would actually benefit ISPs to encourage new technology so that they cant detect downloads and the customers will carry on using their quotas and getting charged for those few extra mega-lumps. Whatever the outcome the Film/Music industry cannot win.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I hope they win and beat you Crooks!

    We could do without all you criminal types keep getting away with this type of theft!!

    I also hope the idea is replicated worldwide, then those of us who are not thieves will not have to put up with the dog slow internet that you lot have created with all your thieving downloads. Damn Crooks!!

    Go out and buy the damn thing you cheapskates, and if you can not afford it - welcome to the real world of - cant afford, dont have!

  31. Dave 129
    Thumb Down


    Not content with ruining their own industry (content), they want to savage all other industries - especially IT. If ever there was a need for action to be taken, it is against the dinosaurs of the content industry, before they are allowed to cause any more unnecessary damage.

    I find it unbelievable that in the last, what 12-14 years, they have not been able to innovate any services or provide alternatives, and yet they still expect special protections and exceptions.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The only good pirate is in prison

    The only good pirate or facilitator of piracy is in prison.

  33. seanj

    @AC 13:01

    "...then those of us who are not thieves will not have to put up with the dog slow internet that you lot have created with all your thieving downloads."

    Allow me to counter your quote with another ridiculous quote:

    "Ten movies streaming across that, that Internet, and what happens to your own personal Internet? I just the other day Internet was sent by my staff at 10 o'clock in the morning on Friday. I got it yesterday [Tuesday]. Why? Because it got tangled up with all these things going on the Internet commercially.

    [...] They want to deliver vast amounts of information over the Internet. And again, the Internet is not something that you just dump something on. It's not a big truck. It's a series of tubes. And if you don't understand, those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and it's going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material."

    - Sen. Ted Stevens

  34. Kevin 9


    How do they tell if it's illegal? I have a collection of 400 strong DVDs that is ever growing. I have also downloaded most of those since it is easier and more convenient than ripping them.

    The question should be asked here the same as any law. If I am a criminal, who have I harmed?

  35. Doug Glass

    The Fat Lady

    Uh oh, the producer's fat lady has finished clearing her throat and has opened her mouth. All thieves take note, the song she's about to let loose with is "Our Day Will Come".

    But have no fear, the movies are yours right? Just walk into your local video store and walk out with what's yours. No need to pay, it is yours ... right?

    Fearless wonders unite ... the movies await.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: I hope they win and beat you Crooks!

    Ignoring the tongue in cheek trolling tone of your comment I'd like to question who the real thieves are.

    Recently a CD of Vera Lynn classics has been released and the publicity plays heavily on the image of Dame Vera. Now a lot of older folk will be going "God bless her soul", dipping into their pensions to relive long lost moments sat by the fireplace listening to the world service and so on... In other words it will most likely be a winner(*). Dame Vera will get sod all in royalties from the sale of these recordings. Every single penny will go to the record company. Who's the thief?

    (*)I've just checked and it did top the album charts.

  37. Anonymous Coward

    @I hope they win etc.

    You're probably trolling, but what the hell...

    "those of us who are not thieves will not have to put up with the dog slow internet that you lot have created with all your thieving downloads"

    The thieves are the ISPs who sold you a certain amount of bandwidth and then failed to deliver it.

    While people continue to be stupid enough to blame other people for using a service they have PAID FOR, instead of the conmen whose sold them a pup, they have no reason to stop this fraudulent behaviour.

    After all, when it's legal streamed TV/movies that's slowing your email down, who will you aim your impotent keyboard rage at then?

  38. mmiied

    @Kevin 9

    I am afriad at least in uk and us laws even if you own a dvd version of ti you can not download a verson of the internet cos that is still illigal

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Worldwide implications

    Another reason this will have implications outside Australia, is that a few years ago as part of Australia signing a free trade agreement with the USA, they did a carbon copy of the US copyright law (including the same safe harbor provisions). So the MPA (yes AFACT took all their orders from the MPA including which ISP to target) can get their test case much cheaper in Australia.

    The bottom line of this case is that the Movies Studios want ISP's to just take their word for it that someone is/was infringing copyright, rather than require the allegations to be proved in court.

    AFACT bombarded iiNet with infringement notices (at times it was thousands in a week), and expects the ISP to verify each infringement, forward the notices to customers and terminate the connections of repeat offenders.

    iiNet on the other hand referred the matters to the police and say it's illegal for them to intercept their customers traffic to verify the allegations, and that they can't terminate their customers service unless the matter is first proven in court.

    AFACT refused to talk to the police, and didn't even respond when iiNet asked for more information on some of the notices.

    Let me end by saying that I'm glad this case is finally getting some exposure internationally.

  40. Anonymous Coward

    I saw this posted online - Re ripping off public venues in Oz.

    They got too big, too greedy and too bossy - public venues said "Bye Bye".

    Music fee hike backfires

    12/10/2009 9:08:00 AM

    A PUSH by Australian record companies to make clubs, hotels, restaurants and cafes pay tens of millions of dollars more in fees to play their music has backfired.

    Businesses have decided to turn off tunes licensed by the record companies and play the music of artists that are not signed to major labels.

    The scheme would have increased some license fees from around $500 to almost $36,000.

    A Clubs Australia spokesman was unable to say how many central Victorian businesses would have been slugged with the drastic cost hike.

    “We’re talking about every restaurant, cafe and club being affected,” the spokesman said yesterday.

    The fee changes would have resulted in businesses such as the Bendigo Club, which staff said yesterday had a bistro capacity of about 50, paying $3075.80 instead of the usual $62.04.

    Bendigo District RSL staff said their bistro had a capacity of about 120, which would have increased fees by about $8500.

    Clubs Australia announced at its annual general meeting a new scheme that would allow clubs to bypass the license fee charged by record companies.

    Clubs Australia will set up a program to source and distribute the music of artists not signed to major record labels and who are consequently exempt from the restaurant tariff.

    As part of the new scheme, local musicians will be given the opportunity to sell their music in clubs, while money earned from the sale of background music CDs will be used to establish a fund for talented Australian musicians.

    From December 1, the Phonographic Performance Company of Australia will increase the tariff required every year by all clubs, hotels, restaurants and cafes wanting to play background music.

    Clubs Australia chief executive officer David Costello said the PPCA was an organisation whose board members included senior executives at EMI Music, Warner Music, Sony Music Entertainment and Universal Music.

    “It’s well known that record labels have suffered a decline in CD sales due to illegal downloads. If this is about countering falling revenue for the big music companies, then they should be addressing music piracy,” Mr Costello said.

    “Expecting the club and restaurant industry to make up for lower CD sales is not only unfair but as we have seen today, certain to fail.

    “Two years ago the PPCA increased the fee for recorded music in nightclubs by 1400 per cent as well as announcing it is increasing the fee for music played in gyms by 5000 per cent.

    “The music labels are working their way through the dozens of music tariffs paid by small businesses.

    “It seems only a matter of time before the PPCA increases fees for music on hold, jukeboxes, conference and pool rooms, squash courts and even swimming pools.

    “Clubs are today drawing a line in the sand and will no longer use music licensed by the big Australian record labels that requires they pay an annual fee to the PPCA.”

    A PPCA spokeswoman said Clubs Australia was “perfectly entitled” to go in another direction.

    “The rates give artists and labels a fair and reasonable deal and were the subject of extensive consultation with the industry,” she said.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How stupid can you get

    Its absplutely ludicrous to hold the ISP's to blame, its like blaming the electricity supply co for people using illegal electrical appliances. All the punter has to do is use a proxy and then how can it established who is doing what. Further, it is the sites that are allowing or promoting the so called copyright infringement. Frequently the punter has no idea that he is breaking the law anyway.

    To further muddy the water, how is the ISP to know if the punter has paid abroad for the film as a "hire" even though the country the punter is in has not "hired" it out. Sorry if the film companies get away with this we shall all have a crack monitoring system built into our homes.

    This is getting more like the UK with our house police!!

    I have an idea, lets all be put in prison, including the film makers as I bet they are not whiter than white. Oh, small problem there, it will all be inside the prison anyway.



    Making tech decisions without understanding of tech

    This seems like another case where a significant court decision will ultimately be made upon the basis of personal leaning of the judge to the general "rightness" of a thing rather than the workability of the ruling.

    If the ruling goes against iiNet (and so all other ISPs in Australia), how is packet monitoring going to guarantee that it is pirating activity that is going on? Assuming, for simplifying argument, that only the bittorrent protocol is going to be targeted by what can only be deep packet inspection, how can it be possible to ensure that the protocol is transporting pirate material rather that non-pirate material? After all, bittorrent is a convenient method of sharing files without needing to configure server capabilities in your PC, which exposes you to a high security attack risk.

    The only way to achieve this is for the ISP to fully download the target of every addressed bittorrent exchange to verify that the target is indeed pirate material. The web published descriptions provided for a torrent hash are, after all, legally only hearsay until that it is actually proven that the target is what the published descriptions say it is.

    So, if the case goes against iiNet, does this mean that they will end up being taken to the high court again by someone who has had their Internet connection disconnected for "piracy" when the customer has in fact been downloading via bittorrent only non-copyright material?

    And in the case of disconnection of a "naked" DSL connection, will the ISP be liable for the removal of the ability for the customer to make emergency services calls (which are possible in the Australian VoIP environment)?

    Fundamentally, a "quick fix" tech solution to prevent the type of piracy that this court case is all about is not possible without causing more wrongs than rights. Let us all hope the judge is savvy enough to recognize this and have the enough inherent personal justice to hold a straight line under the high pressure political and corporation onslaughts.

  43. Daniel Garcia 2
    Thumb Up

    @The only good pirate is in prison

    That is the greatest way to bankruptcy the state! just imagine the 5% of the population on jail, at 24k ea per annum...

    and now,do you suggest concentration camp/gas chamber to solve that new inconvenient, you troll?

  44. david bates

    @It ocurred to me the other night that... #

    It occured to me that if I'd had forewarning I'd not have spent DVD or (especially) cinema money on several recent(ish) films...

    Transformers 2 springs to mind. IN that case piracy would have been a lost sale, but not for the reasons the studios thing (in fact as it is they're lucky I didnt demand a refund and bill them for my time...)

    A film like Watchmen or Franklyn, on the other hand, I've seen at the cinema AND bought the DVD for. I'd still have bought the DVD even if I'd pirated them.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    track this isps

    My major cable ISP (not comcast but almost as big) here in the states already aggressively monitors torrent traffic and sends warnings to disconnect (kissing media companies ass so they get in on the legal streaming action). For around $10 a month though you get a socks 5 proxy via ssh tunneling from a company such as Using a client such as uTorrent you can channel all your bittorrent traffic through an secure anonymous (due to many other people also using the same IP address for the endpoint) AES encrypted connection that short of a government spy agency nobody in the world can deep packet inspect (on your side of the connection). The only two drawbacks are you obviously can't open a port for others to connect to you (but for any torrents with more than a handful of seeds or clients this doesn't matter) and then also you need to be able to trust the company providing your ssh tunnel that they don't turn you over to the ISPs or a honeypot, etc. The before mentioned company though has a very tight security policy (logs not kept, etc), a proven track record, and strong legal team. Lets just say since moving to this setup the ISP has been rosy happy with me and no more notices have come. How to do all this can very easily be found through google so any non IT retard for a few dollars a month can make this legal action moot even if it succeeds.

  46. Anonymous Coward


    Seems that a big chunk of the problem is the excessive number and length of advertisements on Sky, as your average consumer hates being forced to watch several five minute repeated advert breaks on say, Stargate Universe. They ruined Atlantis this way, you'd think they would learn.

    I say at most, one minute adverts, and never repeat the same ones in the same program.

    Better still, add a facility on the Sky boxes that allows you to choose which types of ads you want to see (tech related for example) or just pay a subscription fee to not watch them. Win all round.

  47. This post has been deleted by its author

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    Now THAT is a travesty!

    Worst film I've ever, ahem, downloaded.....

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020