In a judgment handed down on 20 April 2012 in Roadshow Films v iiNet, the High Court unanimously found that iiNet did not breach copyright when its customers carried out illegal downloading via their iiNet accounts because, while iiNet may have known of the illegal downloading, it did not “authorize” that conduct by its customers. Well, of course it didn’t and the Court, which, with great respect, is made up of eminently sensible men and women with better than room temperature IQs was not fooled for a moment by the tortured arguments advanced by the copyright owners.
So, the copyright owners continue in a terrible flap about illegal downloading. That’s perfectly understandable. Copyright is a monopoly and monopoly is the keystone of capitalism. And, work which is the product of great creative effort should not be able to be pirated as easily as it is.
The difficulty for the copyright owners is that dissemination of intellectual property in the digital world is out of control and the copyright owners are hysterical and very heavy handed about the whole thing. They continue to lobby the Australian Government. They propose one of two models. First, the Chinese model, by which websites providing information on torrent files will be completely blocked in Australia in much the same way as China blocks Facebook and Google searches of “Tiananmen Square massacre”. The other is the Stasi model under which ISPs must inform on their pirate customers as every second citizen of the old East Germany informed to Stasi on his or her neighbour.
The Government seems reluctant to do anything much in the way of legislation in response to the onslaught of lobbying from the copyright owners. It says that it wants an “industry led solution”, which is Government speak for “don’t ask us; it is all too complicated”.
The copyright owners are not making much headway in Australia nor in the USA, where the proposed SOPA legislation would have put illegal downloader’s in goal for anything up to five years. This caused a great backlash. Wikipedia went down for 24 hours and politicians and journalists starting talking about “the vibe of the thing”, gibberish really but SOPA has stalled.
Sweden is a place where one can get into terrible trouble for illegal downloading but that’s not surprising given that that country’s rape laws are as difficult as putting together a piece of IKEA furniture; something Julian Assange found recently, to his absolute horror.
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