Record Labels, Music Publishers, Internet
The Australian music industry has listed an internet service provider (ISP) as a respondent in a court case involving alleged music piracy. E-Talk Communications, trading as Comcen Internet Services, has been served with a law suit in Federal Court (Justice Brian Tamberlin) charged with making money from the provision of copyright-infringing music files. This is the first time the music industry has accused an ISP of being directly involved in piracy by allowing its infrastructure to be used for file-trading activities according to Music Industry Piracy Investigations (MIPI), who led the industry’s investigation.
The tactic marks the escalation in the simmering battle between the music industry and the ISPs over how much responsibility the latter should take for any copyright infringing behaviour of their subscribers. The charge is the result of an 11-month investigation into the web site MP3s4Free.net. The registrant of the domain name, Australian Stephen Cooper, was also charged. The MIPI claimed that the website was highly organised and allowed and assisted users to find and download music files. The site received 7 million unique visits in the previous 12 months and MIPI claim that E-Talk economically benefited by hosting the website.
Zdnet reports that the owners of the Web site appeared to be aware of the illegality issues. In the “Frequently Asked Questions” section under the question “Are MP3s Legal?” it reads: “MP3s are both legal and illegal. It is legal when the song’s copyright holder has granted permission to download and play the song. It’s still legal if you encode the MP3 for personal use, however it is illegal to distribute or trade MP3s without permission from the song’s copyright holder.” But Zdnet point out that under current Australian laws it is illegal to make even a back up copy for personal use of copyrighted material legally obtained without the permission of the copyright holder. The site also held a disclaimer that none of the files on this site were stored on its servers and the site was just providing links.
The Web site at the heart of a legal battle between several music industry behemoths and Australian Internet service provider (ISP) ComCen was taken down on Monday October 27th 2003. The takedown came after Stephen Cooper, the maintainer of the Web site www.mp3s4free.net, gave undertakings to the Federal Court in Sydney on Friday that he would remove the Web site. On Friday November 14th Australian IT reported that three individuals had been named as co-respondents.