Legal experts worry about iiNet lawsuit

Legal experts worry that customers will be disconnected from their Internet at the whim of the film and TV industry should they win the lawsuit against iiNet.

Legal experts have expressed worries about over the potential ruling in the landmark lawsuit against Australian ISP iiNet, saying that Internet users would have their connections terminated without any legal process on the whim of the film and TV industry.

The case is hinging on one major point, with iiNet arguing that ISPs shouldn’t be forced to act against its own customers until they are proven guilty in the courts. The film and TV industry is arguing that ISPs should disconnect people the industry has identified as repeat infringers.

iiNet is also relying on what is known as the conduit argument: iiNet are simply providing a service, similar to Australia post, and should not be forced to become copyright police.

Kimberlee Weatherall, associate director of the Intellectual Property Research Institute of Australia and senior law lecturer at the University of Queensland, said that finding iiNet liable would make a court involved in industry regulation.

“It would have to ignore or sideline the thrust of the many legislative moves the Government has made to protect ISPs who are conduits to communication,” wrote Weatherall in a blog post.

Vice-chairman of online users lobby group Electronic Frontiers Australia, Nic Suzor, said internet users would have “substantial hardship” if iiNet lost the case.

“There will be no court processes, so individual users will have no ability to contest the allegations, short of suing their service providers. There will be no court processes, so the media will not fully report on the issues, and a lot of the injustices will go unnoticed.”

Suzor also said ISPs would disconnect individual users out of fear of being sued by large corporations.

Source: SMH