Michael Speck, the head of Music Industry Piracy Investigations, said the prosecution of three young Sydney men this week to breaches of music companies’ copyright — punched holes in the copying “mythology”. Some of the tenets in this so-called mythology include the view that online copyright infringement is an expression of free speech, is not against the law, and that the misappropriation of copyright is good for the music business.
He said “increasingly courts here and around the world are seeing criminal offences driven by Internet technologies as no different to other criminal acts”.
The three were charged by the Australian Federal Police after a joint investigation with the unit, which is owned by the Australian Record Industry Association and some of its stakeholders.
Speck said the next significant step in the Australian case — which involved the distribution of pirated digital music via the MP3 WMA land Web sites — would occur by 29 September, before which the investigations unit would serve evidence to the court about the sentencing, the impact of the crime and the cost of the alleged activity. Each infringement carries a maximum sentence of AU$60,500 in fines and/or five years in jail, he said.
The unit would also be filing evidence about its right to appear in the case, with the magistrate set to decide on 1 October whether the antipiracy unit can appear. Sentencing is scheduled for 10 November.
Speck said “we will be concerned that any penalty reflects the criminality.”
Speck denied there was any collaboration between his unit and the Record Industry Association of America (RIAA), which is fighting a battle against online piracy on a number of fronts.
The RIAA has issued more than 1,000 subpoenas against individuals in the US it claims are offering copyrighted songs on file-trading networks, while participating in initiatives such as an education and entertainment industry alliance which is trying to limit the file-swapping tide on University campuses.