Friday, November 28, 2008

Copyright industry working with AFP against Internet Cafe

One of the interesting things about this story is the fact that the Australian Federal Police acted against this Sydney Internet cafe for copyright infringement after "an investigation by the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) and Music Industry Piracy Investigations (MIPI)." Who is the law here is an interesting question.

Australian Internet cafe pleads guilty to copyright infringement

Late last year, on the 18th of December 2007, the Interville Technology Internet cafe at 391 Pitt St Sydney was raided by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) following a long term investigation by the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) and Music Industry Piracy Investigations (MIPI).

AFACT (Word doc link) and MIPI says their investigations “confirmed that the café was charging hourly fees for customers to view infringing movies and music and selling storage devices with capacities of up to 60GBs (capable of storing over 40 movies and hundreds of music files) which customers were using to copy infringing music, movies and TV shows.”

It now transpires that on the 25th of November, 2008, at the Downing Centre Local Court, Sydney, Interville Technology Pty Ltd pleaded guilty to 40 charges of copyright infringement.

Magistrate McIntosh decided to impose a strong fine totalling $82,000 on the company plus court costs and ordered that the computer terminals and servers seized during the raid were to be forfeited.

There were 60 computers and three servers in the cafe with a combined 8 terabytes of storage holding “hundreds of thousands of infringing movie, TV and music titles. Seized movie titles included titles not yet released in Australian cinemas including “American Gangster”, “National Treasure Book of Secrets” while numerous music tracks from over 150 well-known artists such as 50 Cent, Alicia Keys and Justin Timberlake.”

Neil Gane, the AFACT Director of Operations said at the conclusion of the case that: “The conviction and sentencing marks the successful conclusion of excellent work by the Australian Federal Police.

“It is satisfying to see sentences handed down which properly reflect the damage operations like this do to rights owners and the 50,000 Australians working in the film and TV industries. The sentences will send a clear message to all Internet café owners engaged in commercial scale copyright infringement – you will be caught and you risk severe penalties,” continued Gane.

Sabiene Heindl, the General Manager MIPI said: “This is a fantastic result for a significant case in the fight against music piracy. For the first time, an Internet café has been targeted and justly reprimanded for its blatant facilitation of widespread copyright infringement for commercial gain.”

AFACT is now taking an Australian ISP, iiNet, to court for allegedly not acting on AFACT evidence that iiNet users are engaged in piracy, with iiNet promising to vigorously defend itself in the courts.

The MD of Australia’s largest ISP, Justin Milne of Telstra BigPond, has shared his views on ISPs and piracy following AFACT’s action.

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