A pro-copyright group using an online quiz to determine if internet users were "accidental pirates" has defended the practice and promised it would not refer people it suspected of illicitly copying TV shows and movies to internal investigators or police.
The Intellectual Property Awareness Foundation launched the "Accidental Pirate" quiz yesterday.
The quiz asked internet users if they were inclined to make copies of rented DVDs, buy cheap DVDs while holidaying in South East Asia, or download new-release films from the internet. Answering 'Yes' resulted in users being told: "Did you know that doing X makes you a pirate, too?"
Those who completed the quiz could enter personal details for a chance to win a $5 DVD rental voucher - even if the responses suggested they were a pirate.
A clause in the terms and conditions of the competition - which users were asked to click through and agree to prior to submitting an entry - also appeared to enable the group to disclose the personal information it collected from users to anyone, for any purpose.
This raised suspicions the site was a ‘honeypot' or trap to implicate respondents in illicit activity, their answers handed to law enforcement for anti-piracy investigation.
The group's chief executive officer Gail Grant assured iTnews that it would "absolutely not" share the details of suspected pirates with authorities.
"The whole objective of our campaign is to help people understand the connection between their day-to-day actions and beliefs," Grant said.
"There's nothing clandestine about the campaign or the website in any way whatsoever."
A spokesman for the Office of the Privacy Commissioner declined to comment on the clause or the group's use of Australian privacy rules.
The Privacy Act allowed for disclosure of personal information other than for the reason it was collected in limited circumstances.
A reason set out at National Privacy Principle 2.1 (h) related to disclosure for law-enforcement purposes.
The National Privacy Principles apply to organisations with an annual turnover of more than $3 million - although smaller organisations were understood to be covered in limited circumstances.
The anti-piracy group received about a third of its funding from major international film studios, Grant said. And the group was also a "supporter" of the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft that has a long-running anti-piracy case against ISP iiNet still on foot.
Grant said the group used a legal firm that "specialised in competitions" to draft the terms and conditions for entry.
Term number 17 read: "The Promoter and Ezy Entertainment Marketing Pty Ltd collects personal information in order to conduct the promotion and may, for this purpose, disclose such information to third parties, including but not limited to agents, contractors, service providers, prize suppliers and, as required, to Australian regulatory authorities.
"Entry is conditional on providing this information.
"The Promoter may, for an indefinite period, unless otherwise advised, use the information for promotional, marketing, publicity, research and profiling purposes, including sending electronic messages or telephoning the entrant. Entrants should direct any request to access, update or correct information to the Promoter.
"All entries become the property of Ezy Entertainment Marketing Pty Ltd."
The term that allowed disclosure of personal information to third parties did not appear to be in regular use by competition co-promoter Ezy Entertainment Marketing.
Other competitions promoted by the video chain's marketing division carried a term that it would "not allow any third party to access information on any entrant in these competitions".
Grant said she would check the difference in rules between the two organisations with the group's lawyers.
Update 1.29pm, 1/9 - IPAF has amended the offending clause. More to come.