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AFACT judgement results in Pete's retirement

Date posted: 20/04/2012

It has been almost 4 years, but the legal battle between film and media copyright holders and carriage service provider iiNet has concluded with iiNet victorious.

While sanity has prevailed, it has always seemed curious to us that iiNet got away, in essence, unscathed for failing to have a copyright infringment policy which would have protected them under the safe harbor provisions of the law. That is assuming, that if like us, you think the idea that an ASX listed company with hundreds of staff and millions of customers would have a copyright infringement policy that existed only in the minds of its senior executives and was never written down or communicated to its customers is hard to swallow.

The law clearly provided provisions of protection for providers who do have such a policy, and Beagle was mentioned specifically in the judgment as having a compliant policy.

See: AustLII

Perhaps, for amongst many other reasons, that is why iiNet was targeted for prosecution by AFACT rather than ISPs such as Beagle, People Telecom or Exetel. They failed to spend a few thousand dollars on writing and publishing the policy and left themselves open to risk.

The other issue of course is if you look at iiNet's argument that it is impossible for it to analyze and forward all of those lengthy and voluminous copyright infringement notices. As everyone in the industry knows, that argument is completely devoid of any fact or evidence and many ISPs such as Beagle and Exetel have developed fully automated software capable of processing thousands or even hundreds of thousands (if needbe) of such notices per day.

See: Exetel

We developed one such system, we called him Pete the P2P notifier. Pete's job was to parse emails sent to our abuse email address, process them for the industry standard ACS XML format supplied by the copyright holders, look up the customer, notify them of the infringement notice and then send an email to the rights holder indicating we had sent their infringement notice to the end-user. It took one of our engineers four hours to write this. It was about 200 lines of code. He tested it with 100,000 messages over a single day. It didn't break a sweat.

We did nothing more and nothing less than invest around one days worth of effort for both the policy and the software and protected ourselves from a lawsuit that cost $9M. iiNet's share holders should be asking the board why the same was not done by them. On the other side of the coin, the case has generated significant publicity and public sympathy for iiNet. It probably has, in essence, attracted many thousands of new customers to iiNet. They might have been at a high cost of ownership with the party-to-party costs award, but they're some reward for iiNet's toil and victory.

So today, the High Court found in favor of iiNet and the judgment indicates that CSPs have no requirement to do anything other than they are compelled to do so by subpoena or warrant.

Therefore, our good friend Pete, who sent out his last infringement notice just yesterday, today retired. Bags packed. Desk cleaned out. He's off to the little place in the sky where all legacy code goes to rest, along with all the bits and bytes flowing, just like in the Matrix as French CJ pointed out at trial.

Farewell Pete. We never liked you much, but you did a good job.


AFACT, Beagle, Competition, Copyright Infringement, Dialup, iiNet, IPv6, ISDN, NBN, Technical, Telstra, Uncategorized,

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