Hollywood enforcer comes downunder to battle pirates

The movie industry's chief Internet enforcer visited Australia last week to shore up support for identifying and prosecuting file traders that infringe copyright.

Tom Temple, the Motion Picture Association's (MPA) director of worldwide Internet enforcement, held talks with member film studios, as well as Telstra BigPond and eBay Australia, as part of his visit to Asia-Pacific nations.

eBay Australia's director of trust and safety, Katrina Johnson, said discussions had led the MPA-established Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) to become an eBay Verified Rights Owner. The agreement lets AFACT, setup this year to protect film studios' interests in Australia, request the removal of copyright-infringing auctions with eBay cooperation.

In addition to the sale of pirated movies, online copyright infringement is high on Temple's agenda.

The MPA is currently working on ISP acceptance of a notice and takedown procedure, issued to an ISP when copyright-infringing material is found on its network.

The MPA has had "varying levels of cooperation" with ISPs on takedown notices, Temple said.

"Some ISPs have asked us for messages they can relay on to users, but there are things they could be doing that they're not.

"ISPs are in a very powerful position, so we'll continue to work on a notice and takedown procedure with ISPs," he said.

Like its record association cousin, the MPA has ruled out working with peer-to-peer providers and considers the distribution technology ineffective.

The movie industry was working on its own high-tech distribution service, and would not be dictated to by peer-to-peer providers, according to Temple.

"A peer-to-peer system only works for files that everyone knows the name of. And the only files that everyone knows the names of are Finding Nemo, [and] the Norah Jones songs; popular well-known types.

"These are systems that are designed from the ground-up to distribute copyrighted material, and by way of advertising and other means, bring income.

"Can they [peer-to-peer companies] prove they've done everything they can to protect content? They've done nothing to show that copyright infringment will cease."

Accordingly, the Internet enforcement unit was constantly monitoring peer-to-peer networks, Temple said.

"We try to educate people that peer-to-peer networks are not anonymous. We will continue to take legal action and notify ISPs that copyright violations are occurring on their network and try to bring the consequences to the end user."

The MPA has about 200 people around the world working on identifying online breaches of the MPA's copyright, Temple said.

This includes a 100-staff third-party affiliate vendor which develops a Web spider program.

"[That] searches peer-to-peer networks and Web sites where copyright infringement might be taking place, and where movies are being sold, 24x7, all round the world," Temple said.

The Internet enforcement unit use the Web spider program to set up undercover 'trap' purchases, and send takedown notices to ISPs when copyright infringement has occurred on their networks.

While Temple admitted the MPA could never stop the potential of copyright infringement on peer-to-peer networks, he said they would work to limit the crime.

"If you look through history, of any crime, you can't make it go away. Look at burglary, it still happens. The point is there are consequences."

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