Aussie Anti-Piracy Group Backflips On 3 Strikes Backflip

Last Monday, Sydney Morning Herald published an article in which they quoted Australian anti-piracy group MIPI saying that although they support "mitigation measures" for dealing with alleged file-sharers, "such measures would not include termination of internet accounts." In a new press release, MIPI have accused Sydney Morning Herald of publishing misleading information. Not so, say SMH.

As reported earlier this month, a new report from the UN heavily criticized the notion of disconnecting Internet subscribers on the basis that they may have breached music or movie copyrights.

Last Monday, just a few days after the UN report generated dozens of headlines, Sydney Morning Herald published an article titled ‘Music and film industries split over pirates’.

The parts of that piece that piqued our interest most were the quotes obtained from Music Industry Piracy Investigations (MIPI) by SMH Technology Editor Asher Moses, which are reproduced verbatim below:

“Sabiene Heindl, general manager of the music industry’s anti-piracy arm, Music Industry Piracy Investigations, today said there needed to be “mitigation measures” for those engaged in repeated illegal file sharing but “such measures would not include termination of internet accounts”.”

Considering the worldwide implications of such a statement, TorrentFreak contacted the BPI in the UK for comment since in common with MIPI, the BPI also have the Big Four records labels as paymasters. We wanted to know if this statement by MIPI represented the start of a general softening of attitudes. We received no reply from the BPI.

Now MIPI have issued a press release on the matter. But instead of making things better, by appearing slippery they might have made them worse.

“Music Industry Piracy Investigations, the anti-piracy organisation for the Australian music industry, strongly rejects recent misleading media reports that it is not supportive of a graduated response model to discourage illegal file-sharing,” the release from Sabiene Heindl reads.

“MIPI remains firmly committed to its goal of working with Internet Service Providers to implement an industry led graduated response scheme in Australia that will encourage legal content consumption online.”

First off, SMH did not say that MIPI doesn’t support a graduated response, only that Heindl said, quote, “…such measures [for dealing with infringers] would not include termination of internet accounts.” The reasonable conclusion to be drawn from that comment is that MIPI support “mitigation measures” up to, but not including, Internet disconnections.

So has SMH’s Asher Moses suddenly decided to throw his reputation down the drain by making up quotes?

“The quotes are clear in my original story for anyone to look at,” Asher told TorrentFreak, standing firmly behind his report.

“Also at the time the story went up, and even until this day, MIPI has not once said the story misrepresented their position,” he added.

So MIPI felt strongly enough to issue a press release in which it criticized a “misleading media report”, but didn’t feel the need to contact the publication or writer directly to pursue a clarification or correction? Something doesn’t sit right here, that much is clear.

Asher believes that the MIPI backtracking can be explained by them getting into hot water with their “overseas counterparts” following last week’s Australian government statement which questioned the UN report and indicated continued support for 3 strikes and disconnections.

But even with this latest press release, MIPI still can’t find it in their hearts to use straightforward language detailing their exact stance on disconnections, and have chosen to lean on their interpretation of existing legislation instead.

“While temporary suspension of the internet for repeat infringers is the preferred sanction under an industry led code this does not in any way preclude termination remaining within the current safe harbour provisions of the Australian Copyright Act which deals with copyright infringement more broadly,” they add.

So, is that last paragraph to be interpreted as MIPI support for disconnections or is it an attempt to shift responsibility to the feet of ISPs? Maybe Asher Moses can get another quote from Sabiene Heindl.

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