The Australian film and television industry has launched legal action against major ISP iiNet on the grounds it allows users to download pirated content.
The Australian film and television industry has launched legal action against Internet service provider iiNet on the grounds it allows users to download pirated content.
Federal court received the lawsuit yesterday which was backed by Village Roadshow, Universal Pictures, Warner Bros, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, 20th Century Fox, Disney and the Seven Network.
Adrianne Pecotic, executive director of the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT), said iiNet had received 18 seperate notices of copyright infringement and failed to prevent its customers from illegally downloading copyrighted material.
“We identified thousands of infringements of copyright by iiNet’s customers and we provided iiNet with about 18 separate notices of those infringements and, unfortunately, iiNet did not do anything to address that copyright infringement,” she said.
Mark White, chief operating officer of iiNet, said the ISP couldn’t disconnect customers just because the movie industry claimed they breached copyright.
He also said it was up to law enforcement and the courts to decide whether individuals were guilty of downloading files illegally.
“If these people have done something wrong then the authorities can act on it but really it’s inappropriate for us to act on an allegation,” he said.
The lawsuit hinges on a ruling that iiNet itself breached copyright by failing to take further action against its customers, and are hoping for a court order to force iiNet into more action.
Michael Speck, head of the Music Industry Piracy Investigations, who ran the landmark case against file-sharing network Kazaa starting in 2004, says legal precedent from that case should result in a win for the film and music industry.
“Once it becomes apparent to everyone that the ISP’s most significant traffic is illicit or that particular customers are significant infringing hubs then there can be no doubt that the ISP has an obligation to act,” said Speck.
There’s more at stake here besides illegal downloading though.
Peter Coronoes, chief executive of the Internet Industry Association, said the case would become an important test case for the internet industry in Australia.
“It will test the effect of the safe harbour provisions that were introduced with the US free trade agreement, which provides immunity for ISPs in certain circumstances such as transmission, hosting, caching and referencing activities.”