WAIA defends itself against Exetel anti-piracy tirade

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WAIA defends itself against Exetel anti-piracy tirade

The West Australian Internet Association (WAIA) has been forced to defend its position on movie and music piracy after a blog post by Exetel chief John Linton questioned whether ‘having no morals, ethics or basic commercial knowledge [is] a pre-requisite for running a WA ISP’.

In an explosive post late yesterday , Linton was scathing of the claim by WAIA that the ‘movie industry significantly contributes to the cause of unauthorised downloads’.

“I couldn't believe that any mature person could make this totally unbelievable statement,” said Linton.

“What an incredible insight it gives into the lack of all decent characteristics present in the people who run the internet 'industry' in West Australia.”

In a phone interview today, WAIA president Richard Bone clarified the Association’s earlier statement, saying it was not representative ‘of what WA ISPs feel, but a commentary on the evolving Internet’.

He said that the Association ‘strongly does not condone unauthorised downloads’ and that ‘nowhere does WAIA indicate it is supportive [of piracy]’.

“Millions of people are using the Internet to communicate with each other and exchange information and content, and at the moment the movie industry is refusing to embrace that,” said Bone.

“Peer-to-peer exchange is a huge potential revenue opportunity that the film industry isn’t tapping into, despite the fact so many people are willing to pay to download motion picture content.

“It’s unfortunate that some people don’t have the ethics to know not to download things illegally. We don’t condone the illegal copying of content, but the reality is the legal action against iiNet will not help the film industry make more money from its content or help give consumers better access to it,” said Bone.

He also distanced iiNet – a paid WAIA member – from the views that WAIA expressed yesterday, and denied the Association was an iiNet mouthpiece.

“We had no communication with iiNet whatsoever regarding this release,” said Bone.

“iiNet is a WAIA member but we did not consult them.”

Bone called on the music and film industries to ‘embrace the Internet’ rather than fight it as a means of distribution.

“The fact you can’t download a film legally drives consumers to do it illegally. WAIA thinks it's wrong but that’s what happens,” said Bone.

“The Internet is evolving with people now encrypting peer-to-peer sharing and using anonymous proxies to mask IP addresses. It will continue to evolve, too.

“The real issue is let’s embrace the Internet and monetise it. I wish [the music and film industries would] get behind it,” said Bone.

Bone also defended WAIA’s declaration that ISPs should not be forced to cut off a consumer’s Internet service and phone line based on an ‘unproven allegation of unauthorised copying’.

He said that if this were to happen, consumers could find their phone and TV service cutoff if they ran voice and IPTV over the same connection as the alleged infringements took place.

“If a consumer has bundled VOIP through a Naked service, if their data access was to be terminated their phone line would go too,” said Bone.

“One could argue it’s reasonable to terminate Internet [data] access because of a breach, but to also terminate their phone, and in the future their TV as well?”

Bone said that triple-play services were an area that ‘the law is struggling to keep up with’.

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