In early October it became clear that Australia would be the next country to be targeted with so-called pay-up-or-else file-sharing settlement schemes.
John Linton, chief of ISP Exetel, said that his company had been approached by US film distributor Lightning Entertainment who were demanding the identities of around 150 of the ISP’s subscribers who had allegedly downloaded the movie “Kill The Irishman”.
The front company carrying out this work are called Movie Rights Group (MRG), headed by New Zealand-born brothers Matthew Wade Clapham and Richard Dean Clapham. They and Lightning Entertainment are connected to a pornographic empire called New Frontier Media, which sparked speculation that Australia would soon be flooded with settlement requests on adult movies, as is currently happening in the United States.
Well, if that indeed happens, it appears that MRG won’t get much cooperation from John Linton’s Exetel.
In a post on his private blog (as reported by Delimiter), Linton doesn’t hold back on his feelings for these copyright trolls.
“The appearance of scum like the Movie Group [has] forced Exetel to have to consider the base ways we operate the core systems of our business, simply because we must now consider which is the greater of the evils our current society has forced us to confront,” Linton wrote.
Although MRG won’t be on Linton’s Christmas card list this year, he is careful not to endorse copyright infringements carried out by his subscribers. But this CEO has made his judgment about who deserves his company’s support.
“In this case, it is do we go out of our way to protect those of our customers who knowingly and willfully steal other people’s property or do we allow them to be exposed to even scummier elements of our society …who might be able, amazingly and disappointingly, to use the Australian court system to allow them to be blackmailed?”
So what options are there to scupper the plans of MRG? According to Linton, his company will “almost certainly” invest a serious amount of money in order to render their systems unfriendly to trolls.
“So by the end of this week copyright theft by some percentage of our customers will cost Exetel something over $200,000 to ensure blackmailing scum can’t target our law-breaking customers,” added the Exetel chief.
While it is extremely rare for an ISP to stand up for its customers so publicly, it is not unheard of. In opposition to the country’s IPRED legislation, two Swedish ISPs – Bahnhof and Tele2 – stopped logging IP addresses handed out to their customers, thus thwarting any rightsholder request for information.
However, while the Swedish ISPs are completely within their legal rights to take this action (local law doesn’t require logs to be kept) the situation in Australia is unclear. What Exetel is spending $200,000 on is yet to be revealed but whatever it is will be watched closely not only by trolls, but by U.S. rightsholders too.
Whatever “core business systems” change Exetel has in mind to scupper MRG also has the potential to neutralize both Hollywood and the recording industry. And they won’t like that, not one little bit.