AFACT cry foul – iiNet and Pirate Party respond

In an article published by the Australian yesterday, the Australian Federation against Copyright Theft (AFACT) made the claim that ISPs are refusing to negotiate on Copyright (self) regulation, a claim that ISP iiNet – whom AFACT unsuccessfully sued earlier this year – strongly deny in their responding statement, in which the ISP points out;

“The internet industry and copyright holders had been in detailed discussions for a number of years, before AFACT and its Executive Director, Ms Pecotic, called off negotiations in August 2007 to commence their unsuccessful legal proceedings against iiNet in the Federal Court.”

Naturally, the ‘Gamers, Porn and BitTorrent Society’ .. sorry, the Pirate Party Australia – had their own view on the AFACTs suggestion that we are being left “behind the rest of the world”, referring to the recent adoption of a 3 strike disconnection system introduced in such countries as Britain, France, South Korea, Taiwan and New Zealand;

“Pirate Party Australia completely rejects the implementation of any system that disconnects account holders from the Internet, increasingly the most important platform for communication and political discourse today, upon allegation of infringement, without full judicial oversight and due process. Mechanisms like this will see entire households disconnected, upon an allegation from an industry association.”

“The provision of an Internet service should be considered akin to the postal service, in that packets of data are sent and received, and this communication should be considered private—no person or organisation should be opening and reading the content of these packets.”

First and foremost, I want to point out the ridiculous nature of that particular argument. If you are going to equate the provisioning of internet connectivity to the postal service, you land it (more) squarely in the lap of the Dept of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, and expose ISPs to further regulation by the same. This seems a little counter-productive, unless the PP are suddenly considering themselves ‘besties’ with Senator Conroy.

I’ve previously stated my view on making ISPs ‘defacto cops’ of the Internet (to use a PP-coined phrase), and in the main, that opinion stands. ISPs provide a very specific core service. That service is to provide us, the consumer of that service, the means for us to connect to the internet.

To me, the concept of the provider of that service being held accountable for my use of it is nothing short of insane.

It’s like asking the blokey fellows contracted to conduct roadworks (ISP) who make the roads I drive my car (computer) on should pay my speeding fines ( the $4000 worth of  stolen music on my computer) out of some sort of crazed notion of perceived obligation.

(Authors Note: $4k of stolen music exists as hypothetical example only. I’m pretty confident I’m the only IT guy in history who’s never burned a music CD )

(Additional Authors Note: No offense intended to non ‘blokey’ roadworks persons, I promise)

The law has been tried and tested and in this case, common sense would seem to have prevailed. To quote Cowdroy, the Judge whom presided over the hotly debated and soon to go to appeal AFACT vs iiNet case:

“..mere provision of access to the internet is not the ‘means’ of infringement.” (Summary, Sect. 12)

Sorry AFACT, but no. I know the law, and if I break it, I know that there is a risk that, as the offender, I will be punished for doing so.

You may see the current state of the law as “.. a threat to our digital economy” – I see it as sensible, reasonable, and the 34 studios you represent can sue me should they ever have a problem with my online activity, thank you very much.

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