Australia clamps down on Web pi­rates in rul­ing

The China Post - - WORLD BUSINESS - BY GLENDA KWEK

An Aus­tralian court Tues­day or­dered six In­ter­net ser­vice providers to re­lease the de­tails of cus­tomers who shared the Hol­ly­wood film “Dal­las Buy­ers Club” on­line in a rul­ing that could set a prece­dent for crack­downs on on­line piracy.

The Fed­eral Court of Australia said the In­ter­net ser­vice providers (ISPs), the most prom­i­nent be­ing iiNet — which has al­most one mil­lion broad­band cus­tomers — had to hand over the names and phys­i­cal ad­dresses of the cus­tomers as­so­ci­ated with 4,726 In­ter­net pro­to­col (IP) ad­dresses.

The IP ad­dresses — unique la­bels ap­plied to each de­vice con­nected to the In­ter­net — were sup­plied by the own­ers of the 2013 Hol­ly­wood film star­ring Amer­i­can ac­tor Matthew McConaughey, Dal­las Buy­ers Club LLC.

They told the court the IP ad­dresses were used to share their film on­line us­ing BitTor­rent, a peer-to-peer file-shar­ing net­work.

“I will im­pose upon the ap­pli­cants a con­di­tion that this in­for­ma­tion only be used for the pur­poses of re­cov­er­ing com­pen­sa­tion for the in­fringe­ments and is not oth­er­wise to be dis­closed with­out the leave of this court,” Jus­tice Nye Per­ram said in his rul­ing.

“I will also im­pose a con­di­tion on the ap­pli­cants that they are to sub­mit to me a draft of any let­ter they pro­pose to send to ac­count hold­ers as­so­ci­ated with the IP ad­dresses which have been iden­ti­fied.”

How­ever Per­ram also ruled Dal­las Buy­ers Club LLC had to pay the costs of the pro­ceed­ings and the ISPs’ costs of hand­ing over cus­tomers’ de­tails. The judge added that cus­tomers’ email ad­dresses should not be re­leased.

“The next step is iden­ti­fy­ing the users, and then what we do af­ter that hasn’t been de­cided,” Michael Bradley of Marque Lawyers, who rep­re­sented Dal­las Buy­ers Club LLC, told re­porters, the Aus­tralian As­so­ci­ated Press re­ported.

“I don’t know what im­pact it will have on piracy. Cer­tainly, Australia is one of the ju­ris­dic­tions with the high­est rate of unau­tho­rized down­load­ing and this is a first step from a copy­right owner to try to change that bal­ance.”

Il­le­gal Down­loads

iiNet also wel­comed the de­ci­sion and said the con­di­tions out­lined by the judge had “sig­nif­i­cant safe­guards ... in place to pro­tect Aus­tralian cus­tomers.”

“The re­sult is pleas­ingly what we ex­pected. By go­ing through the process we’ve been able to en­sure that our cus­tomers will be treated fairly and won’t be sub­jected to the bul­ly­ing that we have seen hap­pen else­where,” iiNet’s Chief Ex­ec­u­tive David Buck­ing­ham said in a state­ment.

“We’re very happy with Jus­tice Per­ram’s judg­ment and his bal­anced ap­proach to both the stu­dio’s and con­sumers’ rights.”

Australia is one of the world’s top il­le­gal down­load­ers of tele­vi­sion shows such as “Game of Thrones.”

The gov­ern­ment is seek­ing to crack down on on­line pi­rates. It in­tro­duced a bill last month that would al­low copy­right hold­ers to force ISPs through a court or­der to block web­sites that give ac­cess to in­fring­ing con­tent.

The gov­ern­ment in De­cem­ber also gave ISPs 120 days to de­velop an in­dus­try code that in­cludes is­su­ing warn­ings to con­sumers who breach copy­right laws. Oth­er­wise, providers will be hit with bind­ing rules im­posed by the gov­ern­ment. The code is due this week. Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions an­a­lyst Paul Budde said the rul­ing was dis­ap­point­ing and rep­re­sented a power shift to­wards copy­right hold­ers and away from con­sumers, with­out ad­dress­ing the rea­sons why peo­ple were down­load­ing con­tent.

“We are living in a dig­i­tal world and the rea­son why peo­ple are breaching ... copy­right is not that they want to be crim­i­nals but that the con­tent providers are not pro­vid­ing the sorts of ser­vices that cus­tomers want,” Budde told AFP.

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