The business section of the Guardian had an interesting article yesterday. It comes from David Pegg and it is about targeting customers. In the article we see a prominent picture of Robert Redford (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jul/15/sky-broadband-customers-targeted-allegedly-pirating-robert-redford-film). So what is at play here?
Here we see ‘US firm TCYK, apparently named after film The Company You Keep, made Sky hand over details of customers accused of downloading movie‘, which comes with the opening quote “Dozens of UK broadband customers have received letters from a US firm accusing them of pirating a little-known Robert Redford film and inviting them to pay a financial settlement on pain of further legal action“. You see TCYK got a court order against Sky Broadband, which must now hand over customer details of those TCYK accuses of using torrent sites to download and distribute the films.
These people now get the offer of paying a hefty fine or end up in a legal battle.
So, how does that work in Australia? Well, here we depend on the Copyright Act 1968, where we see in section 36(1) “Subject to this Act, the copyright in a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work is infringed by a person who, not being the owner of the copyright, and without the licence of the owner of the copyright, does in Australia, or authorizes the doing in Australia of, any act comprised in the copyright“, which means you made the movie, you are licensed to handle the movie, or you own the copyright, if you are none of these three, you become the infringer.
Now we get to the nitty gritty of the act (sections 43A and 43B) when we consider ‘temporary reproductions‘, which starts of nicely in section 43A(1) with “The copyright in a work, or an adaptation of a work, is not infringed by making a temporary reproduction of the work or adaptation as part of the technical process of making or receiving a communication“, with the crown part ‘temporary reproduction of the work or adaptation as part of the technical process’, which takes Sky Broadband out of the loop in all this, because Sky just sends packages from point A to Point B and as such, they do not keep any parts of that they communicate, they only keep the logs of what is communicated.
In subsection 2 of section 43A we see “Subsection (1) does not apply in relation to the making of a temporary reproduction of a work, or an adaptation of a work, as part of the technical process of making a communication if the making of the communication is an infringement of copyright“, which might put Sky in the hotspot, yet Sky is at this point an innocent disseminator of information (you know that anti-censoring part people all love), so Sky must prove that by handing over the records. This now counters the (what I would regard as fake indignation) from Michael Coyle, a solicitor advocate at Lawdit Solicitors, who stated regarding the act of Sky Broadband “They should be fighting tooth and nail not to have this information released”, to which I would state “Yes, because we should always protect the people engaging in illegal acts!” more important is the part that comes next “TCYK says that it hired a “forensic computer analyst” to identify IP addresses of computers that were making the film available online” so it seems that those watching the movie are not high on the list, it is about the distributors, those who made the movie available online. So there are two parts. The first part ‘temporary reproductions’, is a part we are still looking at, yet ‘distribution’, which we will also look at.
As Sky is protecting itself by showing themselves to be innocent disseminators, we need to see the logs, part of that is to give evidence that you (or they) are working on a temporary reproduction.
OK, let’s take YouTube, when you watch a movie, a trailer, a TV Show, you are looking at a temporary reproduction. The movie is streamed into the memory of your computer and once the link is severed at ANY GIVEN MOMENT, the movie cannot be watched and it cannot be re-watched’ it must be pushed into the memory of your computer again. This is different from Torrent systems where a file, temporary or not is actually saved to your computer. This is the confusing part, whether it is a temporary file (what the people refer to as temporary) is actually ‘just a file’ that file remains on your computer, just like many other ‘temporary’ files.
I know, it is still confusing! Let me elaborate, when windows or a windows application needs to handle data, it created a file that changes all the time, we refer to them as temporary files. The UNIX reference is much better, they are called ‘scratch files’. So if you download a PDF, it will create a file, and that file will capture all the packages and add them together. That is done until the file is complete, when the download is completed the file gets written becoming the permanent file. This is the normal way for operating systems to work. The issue is that something is written (read: saved) onto your local destination, when this is done, it is by sheer definition no longer a temporary file. this is the part that is taken care of in Section 43A, now as long as there is no way to make the ‘temporary file’ work via an application of any kind, you can also rely on section 43B of the act where we see in subsection 1 “Subject to subsection (2), the copyright in a work is not infringed by the making of a temporary reproduction of the work if the reproduction is incidentally made as a necessary part of a technical process of using a copy of the work“. This now shows my explanation of temporary reproduction, where we refer to ‘incidentally made as a necessary part of a technical process‘, which could make that part a no go area, was it not for the first part where we saw ‘Subject to subsection (2)’, which is now the issue as this does not apply as per section 43B (2)(a) relying on both (i) which states “if the reproduction is made from an infringing copy of the work“, and the irritating use of the ‘or’ statement for (ii) “a copy of the work where the copy is made in another country and would be an infringing copy of the work if the person who made the copy had done so in Australia“, which takes care of any ‘border’ issues.
So, here we are with an infringed work, so what about the words of Michael Coyle?
Well, for this we need to look at Part V remedies and offenses, specifically ‘Division 2AA Limitation on remedies available against carriage service providers‘, which now puts poor poor old Sky Broadband in the limelight! It is a bit of a puzzle, but in short it amounts to “A carriage service provider must satisfy the relevant conditions set out in Subdivision D before the limitations on remedies apply” (a bit paraphrased), this is set in section 116AH, where we see that the carriage service must provide the following two elements for ALL category transgressions
- “The carriage service provider must adopt and reasonably implement a policy that provides for termination, in appropriate circumstances, of the accounts of repeat infringers“
- “If there is a relevant industry code in force—the carriage service provider must comply with the relevant provisions of that code relating to accommodating and not interfering with standard technical measures used to protect and identify copyright material“
This is only the first of several elements that address the part that the Guardian stated “TCYK says that it hired a “forensic computer analyst” to identify IP addresses of computers that were making the film available online“, that part is also needed for Sky Broadband to prove that limitations ‘a’ and ‘b’ were adhered to. For this we need to take a look to a case (mentioned below) where we see at  “The question whether a person has supplied the means with which copyright has been infringed raises its own difficult issues. The primary judge concluded that the BitTorrent system was the means by which the appellants’ copyright was infringed. But I cannot see why the means with which the primary infringers committed acts of infringement must be so narrowly defined. The primary infringers used computers which were no less essential to their infringing activities than was the BitTorrent system. The same is true of the internet connections with which they made the appellants’ films available online”
More important, at  we see “It follows that customers, by entry into the CRA, consented to iiNet disclosing and using information, including personal information as defined, for the purpose of iiNet administering and managing the services provided pursuant to the CRA. Part of that administration and management includes compliance with the CRA. In circumstances where iiNet has received evidence of breaches of its CRA (for example, cl 4.2(a) and (e)) the customer has necessarily consented to iiNet using information it possesses, including personal information, to determine whether to take action under cl 14.2 of the CRA“, which all comes from the case Roadshow Films Pty Limited v iiNet Limited  FCAFC 23, which means that Sky Broadband is going through the motions iiNet in Australia went through 4 years ago. This is important, because the customer relationship agreement is a legal scope that the customer agrees to, which allows for disclosure and more important, now looking at the ‘limitation on remedy’ or bluntly put ‘the massive amount of money TCYK will demand of Sky Broadband if they cannot satisfy conditions’ is where we see actions from Sky Broadband to disclose information.
In addition we need to see the satisfied part “Any transmission of copyright material in carrying out this activity must be initiated by or at the direction of a person other than the carriage service provider“, that part is given by the logs as the viewer did the ‘click here to watch full movie‘, basically that means that the user initiated the act. In addition, there is “The carriage service provider must not make substantive modifications to copyright material transmitted. This does not apply to modifications made as part of a technical process“, showing that whatever solution was used, Sky broadband passed through the information as part of what it is supposed to do as an ISP.
In the end, this will be a messy battle and there is one part that holds less water. It is the statement “Nicolas Chartier, the president of Voltage Pictures, told the Hollywood Reporter this year that he had issued 20,000 lawsuits against individuals accused of pirating the Hurt Locker in order to “make a statement”. “The day after we announced 20,000 lawsuits, the internet downloads of Hurt Locker went down about 40%”“, I am not sure if that will be the end this time, Hollywood has been clasping down in several ways. We see the 10 movies that make a billion, but the hundreds of others that aren’t slicing the cake are not in there, as such Hollywood is now lashing out all over Terra ‘non US’ and we see that it will hit Australia too, even more direct when the TPP becomes fact, at that point having a computer with logs pointing to it with irrefutable evidence might literally cost you your house. There is one side in the TPP that remains undiscussed, especially, as I personally see it behind the closed doors of the TPP negotiations. In all this America relies on fair use, in all this they are eager to criminalise that what is not criminal within the US, it makes for another case.
If we accept the following “Some historians prefer ‘slave’ because the term is familiar and shorter and it accurately reflects the inhumanity of slavery, with ‘person’ implying a degree of autonomy that slavery did not allow for“.
Now we convert that sentence into “Some politicians prefer ‘user’ because the term is familiar and shorter and it accurately reflects the chargeability of usage, with ‘US consumer’ implying a degree of freedom that users are not allowed to have” This is as I see it exactly the core and the broken foundation of the TPP, there is no fair use and there is no accountability on the other side, by all means the TPP ignores the constitutions of more than one nation. This was raised by Alan Morrison in The Atlantic on June 23rd 2015 (at http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/06/tpp-isds-constitution/396389/). The quote in question is “It is January 2017. The mayor of San Francisco signs a bill that will raise the minimum wage of all workers from $8 to $16 an hour effective July 1st. His lawyers assure him that neither federal nor California minimum wage laws forbid that and that it is fine under the U.S. Constitution. Then, a month later, a Vietnamese company that owns 15 restaurants in San Francisco files a lawsuit saying that the pay increase violates the “investor protection” provisions of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement recently approved by Congress“, this is a situation that could be a reality.
You see, this relates to the case at hand in more than one way. In my view, TCYK has every right to protect its side, the movie it made and the revenue coming from that, so I am not against prosecuting copyright infringement at all. Yet, in all this the shift that TPP will allow for is a situation where ‘investor protection’ will bring a case which will be heard by three private arbitrators; the United States government is the sole defendant in that given scenario. More important, it will be a case brought by “investor-based expectations”, I think we can clearly see the link when we consider “Village Roadshow’s revenue and profits are below expectations, which was down 1.9% to $469.5 million for the six months to December. Net profit was lower by 26.2% to $13.34 million“, so in this case Village Roadshow blamed the weather, yet Village roadshow has blamed piracy on many occasions, so the moment we see a court case based on ‘investor-based expectations’, we should all become weary of this becoming an option the regain revenue from a mismanaged product (which is far-fetched but not out of the question).
So why these jumps?
- It might be a movie piracy case in the UK, but the result will hit Australia sooner rather than later and vice versa.
- Infringement is a growing ‘market’ and as such, especially in dire times, the industry at large wants to recoup parts of their losses due to infringement, yet will it truly hunt down the real perpetrators?
- Too many people rely on their ignorance and ‘they did not know’. This defence is now slowly but surely coming to an end, it is more and more an accepted rule that if you did not buy the article, or pay for it, how come you watched it?
- The TPP will change EVERYTHING! This closed door agreement is all about ‘indulging’ big business whilst big business is not playing the game fairly to begin with. In its core it can be seen as a discriminatory violation of ‘fair use’ and ‘constitutional values’.
In all this I jumped at Village Roadshow more than once. Personally I think that Graham Burke has been playing a lose rant game too often, whilst trying not to step on the toes of Telstra and Optus, but that might just be me! In addition, I have additional issues with Federal Attorney-General George Brandis regarding past events. This all links to an article last April in the Sydney Morning Herald (at http://www.smh.com.au/business/village-roadshow-wants-to-work-with-isps-instead-of-suing-movie-pirates-20150416-1mj8cd.html), where we see the quotes “The document centres on a “three strikes” system. An illegal downloader will get three warning notices before a Telco will help copyright holders identify them for potential legal action“, which sounds fine, yet in that part, if at any time the IP address was hijacked, there will not be any evidence absolving the accused person, so the one in court could be the victim in all this. In my view, this is a warped solution to the court case Village Roadshow lost against iiNet, meaning that other avenues need to be taken, which now reflects back to the UK case of Sky Broadband, which could hit Australian legislation. The next quote is “Federal Attorney-General George Brandis and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull set a 120-day deadline last December for internet service providers and entertainment companies to create a binding code“, which is indeed central but not in the way reported on. You see, Telstra and Optus are all about bandwidth, the more you use, the better the invoice from their point of view. This is part of the move we see all over the internet in the last article I wrote regarding the short-sightedness of Graham Burke, in the article ‘The real issue is here!‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2014/06/17/the-real-issue-here/), which also reflected on the article ‘FACT on Piracy?‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2014/01/03/fact-on-piracy/) from January 3rd 2014. These articles connect through ISP’s like Telstra and Optus who have been rescaling their bandwidth plans. The consequence of losing out on 4 billion a year. Now Telstra offers 50GB for $75 a month, smaller plans no longer exist, they have been pushing for new broadband boundaries so that their revenue is less impacted, so the impact of $40 and $80 a month is now decreased to an optional loss of $20 and $40 a month. It was (as I personally saw it) always about time and retrenching. It has been forever about big business! By the way, it is not just Telstra, others like iiNet have done the same thing, offering a new margin, reset to the width that has never been offered before. It is about rescaling the broadband plans, which results in resetting expectations and preparing for new data usage adherence.
You keep what you kill fits perfectly, it comes from the Riddick movies, which is basically the credo of a survivor, in this day and I agree, in this economy it is about lasting the longest and as such, they keep what they kill, which are the copyright infringers and their technologies. I do not oppose it, as I feel that owners of copyright are entitled to protect their assets. Yet, when we read Graham Burke we see “He said Australian film producers were trying to educate the public rather than sue them“, which might seem true enough, but behind that, I suspect, is the fear that if the Australian Copyright Act 1968 adds the ‘Fair Use’ principle, his education boat will sink on the spot, moreover, whatever US pressure we get from the TPP, gets drowned by Fair Use, because if it is good enough for Americans, it should be good enough for non-Americans too.
Last in all this is Matthew Deaner, executive director of Screen Producers Australia, who made a fair statement in the SMH article “They’re trying to say, ‘this is the right way to go about this stuff, this has a consequence to us’,” Mr Deaner said“, which we can get behind, yet the colourful rants by both Graham Burke and Sony executives on the utter non-realistic loss of billions is a consequence as well. By not properly and realistically setting the view, whilst, as I personally saw it, Sony executives were hiding behind excuses regarding missed targets that were never realistic to begin, which soured the milk of reality and reasonability.
Will this affect Australia?
Roadshow Films Pty Ltd v iiNet Ltd  HCA 16 was settled in the High Court of Australia, yet the essential changes to copyright, the impact of the Trans Pacific Partnership (once signed) will also impact the future. The lack of a ‘fair use’ clause is as I see it an essential first step to protect those not engaged in active copyright infringement as well as allowing for innocuous acts not to be struck down in favour of big business in a draconian way. In all this, US corporations have relied on unfair advantages, whilst overcharging people all over the non-US in a massive way is just beyond belief.
Even now, example, ‘Ex Machina’ is in the US $17, in the UK $20 (both Amazon), which is already a 20% offset, a title which cannot be bought in Australia. The US has segmented commerce to maximise profits, whilst not giving fair options to consumers. The fact that they still enforce multiple region codes to limit fair consumer rights is also not addressed. This is in part what drives piracy. If Mr Burke is so about educating, how about Mr Burke educating the other side of the equation? With video games where price difference can go up to 100% in difference between the US and Australia, a consumer grievance that Federal Attorney-General George Brandis never bothered to properly address. When we consider the issue of price fixing we see “Price fixing occurs when competitors agree on pricing rather than competing against each other. In relation to price fixing, the Competition and Consumer Act refers to the ‘fixing, controlling or maintaining’ of prices“, in this we see a loaded gun of different proportions. You see, Agreements between related companies are also exempt from price fixing, yet, when this difference is set at 100%, whilst the firms place technological restrictions (region codes) on products, as well as denying fair competition, largely pushed by American corporations, where is the fairness in any trade agreement?
If a trade agreement is about removing trade barrier, in that regard, the region codes should be regarded as detrimental to trade, but the TPP is not about equality, it is about giving the power to big business and limiting the rights of consumers, which is why partially because of created limitations movies and videogames are not equally and honestly made available. So as we look at what some can buy more expensive and others cannot buy at all, Mr Burke should in part refrain from stating that ‘one leg is education’ the other is regarding ‘products being available at the same time as other countries’, it would make him instantly paraplegic. Unfairness is what drives infringement. This was shown in the 80’s in Europe in a very direct way as games, movies and music were so unbalanced that a $450 ferry ride to London (from Rotterdam) could pay itself back during one VHS shopping spree (not to mention the price difference in games).
That same principle applies here, so if this is truly about stopping infringement than the first step would have been consumer equality. Yet this is about the US maximising its profits, counteracting whatever ‘free’ trade is supposed to do, so copyright infringement is not going away any day soon, it will soon create new situations, all because those involved seem to be about abolishing what constitutes a fair user, which is why the TPP should never come into effect.
You keep what you kill
The question is, who gets killed in the end, because as more true illumination is given, the bigger the question mark we see on what propels infringement. If there is one real upside to all this, it will be evolution, it will not take long for someone to change the premise of the game and design a new peer to peer cloud solution that resets the legal playing field.
Strife has always been the number one innovator in both war and technology, that part has not and will not change.