Writings on technology and society from Wellington, New Zealand

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Hollywood v. the Internet

I’ll be talking today on the radio today about a development in the entertainment industry’s ongoing war against the Internet. Last week, a federal judge in Sydney ruled in a case where 34 movie and TV companies – all the big ones, essentially, were suing an Australian Internet Service Provider called iiNet.

The movie companies’ claim was that iiNet knew that some of its customers were downloading copyrighted material over BitTorrent, because the movie companies had told it so, and that iiNet should have told these customers to stop or disconnected them. Sound familiar? It’s awfully like the “draconian” Section 92A of the New Zealand Copyright Act, rushed in in the dead of night by the former Labour government and taken out again by John Key’s government when they realised how unjust it was.

The outcome of this case was a comprehensive loss for the movie companies. The judge found that iiNet did not authorize copyright infringement, that it had no obligation to stop other infringing copyright even if it knew who they were, which it couldn’t. The judge was scathing about the movie companies’ contention that iiNet should disconnect its customer on the basis of an accusation of copyright infringement made by the movie companies, saying that a judicial process would be required.

Ultimately this was not just about one ISP. It was about the openness of the Internet. That’s why we saw the whole might of Hollywood taking on the third largest ISP in Australia. Presumably the movie companies thought that iiNet would cave to pressure and Hollywood would have established a precedent that it could control people’s Internet access. Good on iiNet for standing up for them!

I’m on Radio New Zealand National after the 11am news. After the broadcast, you’ll be able to download the audio.

posted by colin at 8:32 pm  

1 Comment

  1. Great news. A glimmer of light in the shadow of ACTA.

    Comment by John Condron — 11 February 2010 @ 1:08 pm

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