The recent Federal Court decision in the Dallas Buyers Club case is the first of its kind in Australia. The decision means that the internet service providers (ISPs) involved – iiNet and others – will now have to give the Dallas Buyers Club rights holder, Voltage Pictures, the contact information of account holders who allegedly downloaded a pirated copy of the film.
Once this information is handed over, Voltage Pictures is able to send account holders a letter about the activity they allege has happened. In this case the Federal Court is reviewing all letters Voltage Pictures will be sending to account holders to make sure there is no 'speculative invoicing'. This is a fancy name for a demand for money to be paid to the rights holder for pirating the film. These letters might say that the company will take you to court if you don't pay. Speculative invoicing has been used overseas in the US, Canada and UK to intimidate consumers into paying compensation for claims of illegal file sharing.
In the light of the Dallas Buyers Club Federal Court decision, the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) is concerned that the Copyright Code will streamline 'speculative invoicing'. Speculative invoicing is the practice where a rights holder sends a letter of demand for payment of damages to an account holder who has allegedly engaged in illegal downloading.
ACCAN has been working with industry and rights holders to develop the industry Copyright Code which today has been submitted to the ACMA. The Code includes a Notice Scheme that will see consumers sent infringement notices if they are alleged to have downloaded pirated material. In our submission to Communications Alliance, we outlined significant concerns in the Code's consumer safeguards.
What is metadata?
Metadata, simply put, is 'data about data'.
In telecommunications it is information about communications (e.g. the time a phone call was made and its duration), information about the people communicating (e.g. the sender and the receiver) including account and location information, and the device used. It does not require that service providers retain the content or substance of a communication, but metadata can still reveal a lot of information about an individual and those they interact with.
For the draft set of metadata that will be collected, head to the Attorney-General's Department website.
The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) would like to congratulate the Federal Government on its move to make registrations on the Do Not Call Register indefinite which passed through both Houses of Parliament yesterday. This is great for consumers who will no longer have to re-register their phone numbers on the Do Not Call Register.
"With more than 10 million registered numbers on the Do Not Call Register, indefinite registration is a win for consumers," said ACCAN CEO, Teresa Corbin. "The high number of registrations reflects the preference of Australians not to be contacted by telemarketers."
The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) is concerned that the proposed anti-piracy Industry Code has some serious flaws in its consumer safeguards. ACCAN has outlined its concerns in a submission to Communications Alliance.
The scheme includes a $25 fee to challenge a false claim made by a copyright holder. In Australia, these types of dispute resolution schemes have traditionally been fee free (for example the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman). While there is a provision for fee waivers ACCAN believes the process for applying will be overly bureaucratic and insufficient to improve affordability issues.