Facing failure in their quest to force ISPs to warn and disconnect file-sharers, the anti-piracy division of the Australian music industry is now threatening to go the route of the RIAA and start taking legal action against individuals.
The Music Industry Piracy Investigations (MIPI) in conjunction with the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) have been pressurizing Australian Internet Service Providers to take action against those it accuses of infringing its copyrights.
They have informed ISPs that they require them to send warning notices to their customers informing them of their infringing behavior and warning of the likely consequences. They have also issued demands that ISPs disconnect their customers from the internet, should they be accused of sharing copyright works.
According to The Age, Sabiene Heindl – General Manager of MIPI – is signaling a new strategy after Australian ISPs dug their heels in and refused to co-operate with MIPI’s demands. The Internet Industry Association (IIA) wrote to MIPI and explained that they felt they weren’t responsible for the actions of its customers and should not be required to monitor them, effectively refusing to become the industry’s copyright police.
In a letter, the IIA suggested that copyright holders should look for their rights to be enforced by using the existing tools provided by the Australian courts and copyright law.
The IIA quite rightly believes that the labeling of someone as an infringer should only be done by the courts, not by an organization such as MIPI or AFACT, a point outlined in its letter: “The distinction between an infringer and an alleged infringer has been raised as an important legal standard which ought not be undermined by us.”
In response, Heindl explained: “We would hope that the ISPs and the record companies could come up with an alternative solution. That said, if that solution cannot be reached, and at this stage it’s because of the ISPs refusing to play ball, then we may have no alternative other than to take legal action.”
Originally created to curtail physical piracy, 2004 saw MIPI involved in high drama when it raided the offices and home addresses of people involved with Sharman Networks and Brilliant Digital Entertainment. Two universities and 4 ISPs were also raided during the search for evidence to support their case against KaZaA.
In 2005, MIPI was restructured to concentrate on educating the public about file-sharing, although this didn’t stop them raiding an ISP in their quest to get a BitTorrent hub shut down.
It’s likely that 2007/8 will see MIPI ‘educating’ file-sharers with the threat of lawsuits which are hugely expensive, have been tried extensively in the United States and generally, do not work.