iiNet Paper Says Downloaders Punished Worse Than Speeding Drivers

The entire time AFACT was trying to sue the pants off of iiNet (and not in a sexy way), the ISP was telling them they needed to make accessing their content easier and more affordable if they wanted to reduce piracy. Now that the court case is out of the way, iiNet is taking the proactive route and has released a paper entitled, Encouraging Legitimate use of On-line Content. It makes for some interesting reading.

The crux of iiNet’s argument is that at present, the Hollywood marketing machine does a fantastic job at creating demand for their product, often spending hundreds of millions of dollars to do so, but then limits availability, which creates a frustrated and unsatisfied market.

When it comes to piracy, iiNet is quick to point out that the current approach to finding and stopping pirates by Hollywood doesn’t include any independent body verifying the accusations, let alone being responsible for determining the appropriate punishment. As a result, they have come up with a model, which they summed up rather nicely in this illustration:

This is how iiNet want the process of finding and dealing with piracy to proceed:

The process illustrated by the diagram, is as follows:
1 . A content owner will carry out their own detective work and identify an offending computer making unauthorised copies of their content available for sharing via (typically) bit-torrent software . This will provide them with an ‘IP Address’ that can be traced by the issuing ISP to a specific internet service .
2 . The independent body will determine whether the evidence meets a test of ‘cogent and unequivocal evidence’ .
3 . IP addresses can be provided to an independent body who is able to identify the issuing ISP and ask that ISP for contact details for the service account holder . The ISP provides those matching contact details to the independent body .
4 . Using those contact details the independent body can issue notices to the account holder informing them that they had been detected making unauthorised copies available, provide educative information, advise the consequences that may follow continued behaviour and ask the account holder to ensure that the behaviour stops .
5 . The independent body keeps records of the notices and may modify the notice for a repeat infringer, or seek further sanctions . Some of those sanctions may include fines, court charges or changes to the internet service .
6 . Consumers who believe the allegations are incorrect will be able to appeal the notice to the independent body . These appeals and/or complaints would be dealt with by the independent body .
7 . Consumers who believe an insecure wireless access (or other technical issue) may be involved, will be referred, by the independent body, to their ISP for technical assistance

When it comes to penalties for illegal downloads, iiNet makes a point of comparing piracy to traffic offences:

iiNet considers that a more appropriate scheme (when compared to termination) is one similar to that used for traffic offences . 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.

The entire paper is worth reading, and from a consumer standpoint sounds to be logical and reasonable, especially compared to the current approach taken by AFACT. But it’s a long way away from becoming a standard – it will be interesting to see how the copyright holders react to the proposal.

While we wait for that, tell us what you think of the iiNet proposal in the comments below.

[iiNet paper (PDF)]