Telstra Faces Being Sued Over Illegal Downloads

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Australia’s largest ISP Telstra BigPond faces being sued in the latest battle over illegal downloads of music and video in Australia.

BigPond and it’s Managing Director Justin Milne have been accused by the Music Industry Piracy Investigations organisation (MIPI) of deliberately failing to take action to stop BigPond customers from illegally downloading music.

Sabiene Heindl, General Manager of MIPI, who today met with Federal Attorney General Philip Ruddock said, “We have tried to get Telstra to take action voluntarily to stop the illegal downloading of music over their BigPond network but they refuse. Here is an organisation that on one hand wants to sell music and video downloads then on the other allows its customers to engage in illegal activities”

She claims that MIPI has held several meetings with Telstra and Justin Milne with a view to come up with an amicable and co-operative solution that satisfies both parties.  MIPI also claims that Telstra has “stubbornly” refused to co-operate and that the next step could be legal action against BigPond.  

 

Heindl claims that the Australian music industry is now in a position to notify Telstra of the IP addresses of copyright infringers, namely those making available copyright protected music for download on their networks and that as such, Telstra should take action immediately to stamp out the illegal practices.

She claims that if a consumer walked into a Telstra store and stole a CD Telstra would take action to prosecute and that it should take the same approach when someone uses the BigPond Network as a means to steal the content. 

The MIPI claims that Telstra has both the capacity through its ability to match a dynamic IP address with the subscriber that is using the BigPond network at a particular time and the contractual right to suspend or disconnect its subscribers’ accounts, specifically in circumstances where subscribers are infringing the rights of others. 

Therefore the music industry intends to provide BigPond with notifications of copyright infringers on their networks and to call upon it to suspend or disconnect those copyright infringers’ internet accounts. 

 

The MIPI claims that prior any suspension or disconnection of users is implemented, it is appropriate that warning notices are sent and an education campaign implemented to deter illegal file sharing activity.  Disconnection would only occur as a last resort. 

Heindl says that Telstra has advised of its strong opposition to such a proposal.  The Chairman and CEO of the IIA have also responded that they are unable to support the proposal.  The Attorney General, Phillip Ruddock has written to Telstra, the IIA and other interested parties encouraging them to work together to seek resolution, rather than seek a legislative solution.

The Australian music industry would prefer not to sue individuals for illegal file sharing.  That said, it may have no choice but to reconsider this approach if ISPs and the IIA continue to refuse to progress the “notice and disconnection” proposal for users engaged in repeat acts of illegal file sharing of music on their networks.

The MIPI have also  claimed that the Australian Federal Police have to date failed to take any action and that recent budget allocation for extra resources should be allocated to the prosecution of offenders engaging in the theft of content over the Internet.

“The FBI in the USA is proactive so should the Australian Federal Police” said Heindl.

SmartHouse is still waiting for a response from BigPond Managing Director Justin Milne.

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