Late last year I was speaking to industry representatives about the outcome for the iiNet court case. They all believed that it was a lay down misère, (in favour of themselves).
After all, there was little old iiNet, a small (by world standards) ISP and there were thirty-four financially well heeled complainants.
(Just on the basis of odds, it would have appeared that fortune would favour the litigants.)
Well apparently not so.
This morning in court, reading out his summary of the almost 200 page judgment, Justice Cowdroy summarized that the evidence established that iiNet had done no more than to provide an internet service to its users which was a legitimate communication medium that was neither intended nor designed to infringe copyright.
And further, he said that “while iiNet had knowledge of infringements occurring and did not act to stop them, such findings did not necessitate a finding of authorization”. (In other words, iiNet didn’t create an environment that publicly proclaimed “Join iiNet and get your movies for free,” and thereby ostensibly “authorize” it’s users to download content illegally.)
This is the second time in in the last decade that the content companies have gone after small Australian ISP’s. The last time in 1999 it was APRA for music on hold.
The content industry cherry pick their litigation victims based on a formula:
Reliance on jurispridence in this instance would appear to have failed, so it’s back to the drawing board for the content companies.
Or maybe not, after all, ACTA is still hanging it’s head over the entire free world, our politicians having been obviously influenced to an extent by the large political donations recieved over the last few years.
Whichever way the content companies jump, one fact remains foremost in every film directors minds.
“If everyone downloads the content for free, then where will the funding for next years blockbuster movies come from?”
There is however another story at play.
That is the story about how for decades, money has won the majority of legislative decisions, because after all, that is the nature of the corporate beast (and it is the corporate beast that donates the most money for political hopefuls to become Miisters of Parliament).
The mantra of the Corporation is survive at all costs, repel all boarders, prosecute all wrong doers (doing wrong against the company).
Anyone that is, or has been a CEO knows that being the boss means that you have a fiduciary interest to the company and its shareholders to win at all (legally permissable) cost.
Or, failing winning, the CEO still have to answer to the toughest boss of all, the shareholders; and shareholders can be a merciless audience at annual general meetings.
Shareholders don’t care why you failed, they just know that their investment is worth less this year than last and as you’re running the show it must be YOUR fault.
The content industry has had some major upsets at the helm of several of their member companies. But what is also happening is that their shareholders are realizing that strongarm tactics are not working.
Sometimes it takes a long time for an idea or meme to become an accepted fact.
In Australia, the “Belt-up” seat-belt road safety campaign ran for ten years before Australians accepted that putting on the seat belt was an automatic function of traveling in a motor vehicle.
Possibly, the content industry shareholders now realise that :
A) File sharing is here to stay.
B) ISP’s are unable to prevent it from occurring.
C) The Justice system is unwilling to enforce fascist type lawmaking precedence.
D) Other options need to be examined.
Now, if we could just convince our legislators of the same (in relation to ACTA and restrictive and privacy infringing aspects of other Free Trade legislation,) then we might just have a world where we all get on a lot better and happier.
Wikipedia states that the definition of happiness is a state of mind or feeling characterized by contentment, love, satisfaction, pleasure, or joy.
Happiness economics suggests that measures of public happiness should be used to supplement more traditional economic measures when evaluating the success of public policy.
I’m pretty sure that right now, Michael Malone (CEO of iiNet) looks like the little guy above.
Curiously, I believe that today’s decision means that the shareholders of content companies can actually now also be happy and instruct their representatives, the content company CEO’s to start the process of meaningful dialogue to profit from P2P, rather than lose from it.
P.S: And Australia really does seem to have a balanced and fair court system. Which is rather nice to know. (Let’s see if that premise suvives the appeal that will doubtless be filed.)
Judgment – Roadshow Films Pty Ltd v iiNet Limited (No. 3)  FCA 24