Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Why the iiNet case scares me and why movie and music publishers need to evolve to survive

It scares me because iiNet have done nothing wrong, despite claims by the AFACT that they “allowed distribution of copyrighted material”. iiNet cannot, by law, monitor what it’s users do with their connections without a court order. The AFACT seem to be assuming that because they believe a user is downloading movies or music via bittorrent, iiNet should know too. After all, they are the ones providing the internet connection. However, conclusive proof needs to be given, and unless iiNet monitors its user’s connections,
it cannot confirm or deny any claims by AFACT. So iiNet rightly forwarded the allegations to the police. The AFACT, however, do not like this. They want iiNet to disconnect infringing users. But iiNet does not want to lose customers on a baseless accusation, and they cannot comfirm the AFACT’s claims without breaking the law. How can anyone expect them to act any differently?
The number one reason it scares me, however, is if iiNet loses the case it could mean that ISPs will be forced to disconnect users if they are accused of downloading copyrighted material, regardless of whether they have or not. I don’t want my internet disconnected just because I connected to a torrent tracker to download perfectly legal data, for example: linux distributions, movies for which copyright has expired, etc.
The AFACT shows just how ignorant they are about how the internet works. If they block one medium of distribution, many more will arise from the ashes; look what happened with Napster: it was taken down, but the came Kazaa, and Limewire and the gnutella network, and bittorrent, and so on. The industry needs to adapt to the Internet age if it is to maintain the profits it has supposedly been losing to piracy. It is its unwillingness to let go of past business models that has got it into its present mess.

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