By Jennifer Dudley
November 25, 2003
THE Australian Recording Industry Association plans to sue Internet service providers who failed to stop consumers illegally downloading music.
ARIA's music industry piracy investigations manager Michael Speck said ISPs relied on illegal music downloads for 20 per cent of their revenue and were aware customers were flouting copyright laws but did nothing to stop them.
He said the failure of Internet companies to prevent copyright infringements left ARIA with no choice but to prosecute them.
But Internet Industry Association chief executive Peter Coroneos slammed Mr Speck's comments as "provocative" and "inflammatory" and said ISPs were keen to work with copyright holders to prevent infringements.
ARIA's declaration follows its legal action against a Brisbane man and his Sydney-based Internet service provider over alleged music piracy.
The civil case, which will be heard in the Federal Court, alleges Stephen Cooper from Bellbowrie established a website which allowed Internet users to illegally download more than 140 million files at a cost of "several hundred million dollars", Mr Speck said.
He said ARIA had also sued the directors of Mr Cooper's ISP and the person who established his account.
Mr Speck said MIPI was also investigating ISPs who were ignoring and profiting from illegal music downloads, as they charged by the amount of data a user downloaded.
"It's clear they become aware of this activity in the normal course of their business and they should abide by the copyright law in this country," he said.
"We understand from employees of Internet companies that up to 20 per cent of their revenue in many cases comes from traffic created by downloading illegal sound recordings.
"There aren't many business that could survive if 20 per cent of their revenue disappeared and that's what we believe is motiving ISPs to hang on to it for as long as possible."
Mr Speck urged ISPs to halt the practice by blocking access to illegal music download sites and programs or "by other arrangements".
But Mr Coroneos said ISPs did not have any responsibility to monitor the activities of its users and should not be asked to invade customers' privacy.
He disputed Mr Speck's estimate of revenue from illegal music downloads and said ISPs were keen to work with the music and film industries to develop a solution to the problem.
"We have been working with ARIA and other copyright bodies throughout the year on an industry code of practice that will void the need for litigation," he said.
Music piracy investigator John Thackray said legal music sites could help stem the problem, but music piracy was "a growing market" and more ISPs would be prosecuted.
Mr Speck said ARIA did not plan to prosecute individual music downloaders, as the US music industry had done.