iiNet Asks Why Downloaders Are Treated As Bigger Criminals Than Speeding Drivers

It's still not clear if there'll be a further appeal in the iiNet vs studios piracy case, but the ISP isn't staying quiet on the issue while it waits to find out. In a new paper it argues that there should be an independent body which assesses and assigns penalties for copyright infringements, drawing on the points model we're familiar with from driving licences.

The bit that grabbed me particularly in the paper (you can grab the whole 14-page PDF if you're interested) is the comparison of the way in which punishments are assigned to, respectively, speeding drivers and copyright infringers:

Authorities regularly equate speeding as a cause of death, injury and major economic loss to the community . In spite of the seriousness of the offence, the graduated penalty structure for speeding never culminates in the total denial of access to transport.

Obviously, that isn't true of the "cut off all access" penalties often demanded in copyright cases:

iiNet does not believe that termination of access for an entire household, or a business, as a result of one individual’s infringement, is ever appropriate or proportional . As with speeding infringements, speed cameras may permit the identification of a vehicle, via its registration plate, but not necessarily the identity of the driver . The owner of the vehicle has the option of accepting a fine, when notified by the appropriate body or, alternatively, can make a declaration to the authorities, identifying the driver for the issue of penalties.

Those penalties should also recognise that a single viewing of a movie at home is not the same as making multiple copies for sale:

Infringements can be ranked as minor (say, single instances), major (say multiple instances of different files) or serious (at a commercial level) . Each level having prescribed penalties. Repeat infringements may require further definition - say a minimum period of one week between detections, or examples of sharing multiple files. A scale of fines can be established, relative to the economic loss represented, and demerit points could also be awarded in line with the severity of the infringements . When a defined limit is reached, other sanctions might be deemed appropriate. These could involve charges being laid for treatment by the courts or possibly shaping of peer to peer traffic.

Obviously, iiNet has a vested interest in promoting a scheme where ISPs aren't responsible for enforcement, but that certainly doesn't mean its proposal is without merit. Does this sound like a better way of dealing with infringement to you? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.

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Comments

    If we have to have new laws to deal with online copyright infringement then this seems a pretty reasonable way to go about it.

    Two issues though:
    1. I'd be concerned that the penalties would gradually creep higher and higher once the initial, reasonable laws are introduced; and
    2. Would this be in the form of a fine or as a civil penalty as part of copyright law? I think it needs to be one or the other, else people could be liable twice.

      1. it's not like they have ever done that with speeding fines..
      2. it's not like they have ever done that with speeding fines..

    I guess I have to agree with what iiNet is saying on this issue (but I am a pirate myself, so who am I to say anything? :P)

      Are you really a Pirate? Bear in mind that studios have been brain-washing the public on the definition of "piracy" for a decade now, and it looks like it is working.

      A pirate is someone who *sells* copyrighted content they don't own for a profit.

      Because the music/movie studios deem that by downloading the content, you aren't buying it - this translates to a lost sale they were entitled to. Ergo, "piracy".

      Then again, by their same rules, I'm a "pirate" for buying content from off-shore sources at a cheaper rate than they want to give it to me in Australia. I pay about $10/month for a Netflix subscription that I'm not meant to be eligible for (using a US VPN), same goes for the US iTunes store.

    I think the current system where every year or so a random person is killed and sacrificed to the gods of RIAA, MPAA and whatever other acronyms come along is fine.

    If the implementation and response of the RIAA, et al had any basis in reality, people would respect the law and obey it.

    If RIAA, et al, got off their collective lazy/old/fat/deluded asses and actually provided artistic content at a reasonable price, paid the artists and didn't stick adds before during and after the content, or require you to buy it eight times for your various media channels... It would be an easy sale/sail into the future.

    They are currently fighting to be relevant. The artists are, I believe, finally coming to the realisation that the only thing standing between them and their happy, money handing over customers is their "representation".

    Sounds great, but the government don't even take their own speeding demerit points system seriously: they just added another point! WTH?

    It shouldn't be that copyright infringement is like speeding, it should be that they are swapped. Speeding causes fatalities, so one strike and you're out. Copyright infringement causes... Um, no damage?

    Theres nothing to worry about in Australia. The powers that be have said numerous times that they are not interested in pursuing and penalising downloaders.

    In fact, (this was in my local paper) about two years ago at the local markets where I live a guy was caught selling hundreds of pirated movies at his stall. The police then searched his van where they found thousands more.
    He went to court and was let off with a warning.

    So, if a guy can have thousands of pirated movies in his possession and selling them and he gets let off with a warning, then what do us regular downloaders have to worry about?

    The Australian authorities dont give a damn about piracy. Not a single care.
    Its companies like the RIAA who are bugging everyone.

      > The Australian authorities dont give a damn about piracy.
      > Not a single care.

      It makes a big difference when the government is not run by the corporations!

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