ISP sued for “allowing” Piracy. Yaar!

pirate-charlieAs if it weren’t bad enough that ISPs are expected to be our net nannies, it looks like they have to be police as well:

The Australian film and television industry has launched a major legal action against one of Australia’s largest internet service providers for allegedly allowing its users to download pirated movies and TV shows.

The action against iiNet was filed in the Federal Court today by Village Roadshow, Universal Pictures, Warner Bros, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, 20th Century Fox, Disney and the Seven Network.

Good grief.

Mark White, iiNet’s chief operating officer, said the company did not support piracy in any form but it could not disconnect customers just because the movie industry claimed they engaged in illegal downloading.

It may be a bit of an open question about whether an ISP is responsible for what a customer does with their service, but giving private companies (with no legal obligation of evidence, oversight or culpability for false positives) the power to mandate guilt and enforce punishment somehow just doesn’t seem the right way of going about it.

White said it was up to law enforcement and the courts to decide whether people were guilty of illegal downloading.

Well, I would hope so. After all, isn’t that what they’re for?

UPDATED TO ADD:

I found an interesting counterpoint via a post on Bruce Schneier’s Blog about how similar cases by the RIAA in the US might be unconstitutional. From the referenced article:

Imagine a statute which, in the name of deterrence, provides for a $750 fine for each mile-per-hour that a driver exceeds the speed limit, with the fine escalating to $150,000 per mile over the limit if the driver knew he or she was speeding. Imagine that the fines are not publicized, and most drivers do not know they exist. Imagine that enforcement of the fines is put in the hands of a private, self-interested police force, that has no political accountability, that can pursue any defendant it chooses at its own whim, that can accept or reject payoffs in exchange for not prosecuting the tickets, and that pockets for itself all payoffs and fines. Imagine that a significant percentage of these fines were never contested, regardless of whether they had merit, because the individuals being fined have limited financial resources and little idea of whether they can prevail in front of an objective judicial body.

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