[LINK] Wikileaks cable outs secret iiTrial background
kim at holburn.net
Thu Sep 1 19:41:29 AEST 2011
> Wikileaks cable outs secret iiTrial background
> news A document published by Wikileaks appearing to be a US diplomatic cable appears to have revealed much of the previously hidden background behind the iiNet/AFACT court case, including the Motion Picture Association of America’s prime mover role and US Embassy fears the trial could become portrayed as “giant American bullies versus little Aussie battlers”.
> The case, which is expected to shortly be escalated to the High Court following a second appeal, has since November 2008 seen a local organisation known as the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) squaring off against local ISP iiNet, over alleged copyright infringement over file-sharing networks like BitTorrent by iiNet’s customers.
> AFACT is known to represent a number of US-based movie studios in the case, including Walt Disney Pictures, for example, as well as industry associations such as the Motion Picture Association of America and local companies such as the Seven Network.
> However, this week Wikileaks published what appeared to be a leaked cable sent from the US Embassy in Canberra (under the name of then-US Ambassador Robert McCallum) to a number of US Government diplomatic branches on 30 November 2008, revealing what appeared to be further details of the case. The cable, seen by Delimiter, claims that although the case against iiNet was filed by a number of local and US content owners and distributors, the prime mover behind it was the MPAA, which has been active in copyright enforcement in the US.
> The relative governments which have suffered leaks under the Wikileaks case have repeatedly declined to comment on the substance of the cables leaked over the past year, although they are believed to be genuine. AFACT and iiNet have been contacted tonight for a response to the leaked cable.
> An executive from the MPAA, the cable claimed, had briefed the US Ambassador on the matter, confirming it was the mover behind the case, with AFACT essentially functioning as a sub-contractor to the MPAA in the matter and the MPAA having no formal presence in Australia. However, the cable claimed that the MPAA would prefer its role not be made public.
> “AFACT and MPAA worked hard to get Village Roadshow and the Seven Network to agree to be the public Australian faces on the case to make it clear there are Australian equities at stake, and this isn’t just Hollywood “bullying some poor little Australian ISP,” the cable quoted the US Embassy as writing.
> iiNet, the cable claimed, had been targeted because the ISP was “big enough to be important”, as the third-largest ISP in Australia. The MPAA didn’t go after Telstra, the cable claimed, because the telco was “the big guns” and had “the financial resources and demonstrated willingness to fight hard and dirty, in court and out”. In addition, iiNet users had a particularly high copyright violation rate, the cable claimed, and its management had been “consistently unhelpful on copyright infringements”.
> And Communications Minister Stephen Conroy was also consulted, according to the document, with the MPAA speaking with the Labor Senator a few months before the case. At the time, Conroy stated that he had “other priorities” such as the National Broadband Network policy. The MPAA, according to the cable, did not see any role for the US Embassy in that context at that time, but wanted to keep it informed of developments.
> In addition, according to the cable, the MPAA saw the iiNet case as potentially “not necessarily their final legal move” in Australia with respect to the issue of online copyright infringement. Although the iiNet case has not yet been concluded in the High Court, AFACT has this year begun again reaching out to Australian ISPs to attempt a dialogue on the issue of copyright infringement.
> The US Embassy, according to the document, noted that Australia had “very high rates of illegal movie and television show downloads”, in part because of “the sometimes long gaps between their release in the US and their arrival in Australian theaters or on local television”. The Australian legal action could be followed up by similar moves in other Commonwealth countries, according to the cable.
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