AFACT bombarded iiNet with breach notices

AFACT bombarded iiNet with breach notices

Summary: The Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) had sent iiNet over 1000 copyright infringement notifications over a seven-day period, the Federal Court heard yesterday.


The Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) had sent iiNet over 1000 copyright infringement notifications over a seven-day period, the Federal Court heard yesterday.

The notifications that AFACT and other copyright owner lobbyists had sent to iiNet over a period of about five months totalled more than 7500, iiNet's barrister Richard Cobden told the court. He also said that AFACT and other copyright owner groups' requests persistently asked the ISP to cut its customers' services off.

Cobden said the volume of AFACT's notifications were akin to spam, and that iiNet had suffered a "constant bombardment" of notifications, which, he said, were unreasonable and burdensome.

iiNet's aim yesterday was to establish that AFACT had, since 2007, been attempting to build evidence that proved the ISP had implicitly "authorised" its customers' breach of copyright by not following its orders to either send notification letters or cut off an offending customer's service.

Cobden yesterday worked towards reducing the number of alleged breaches of copyright that had been collected by AFACT's two investigators, which were claimed by AFACT's barrister Tony Bannon to have reached 100,000 instances. Cobden told Justice Cowdroy that BitTorrent file-sharing were often pre-configured to be left open for sharing, meaning that many of the alleged breaches were actually single instances.

Cobden said copyright owners had done nothing to protect their material, and wanted iiNet to bear the burden of being "judge, jury and executioner". Cobden noted that Telstra in 2007 had told AFACT that it would ignore its breach notices.

This week, Bannon argued that the Internet Industry Association (IIA), rather than being a neutral "friend of the court", was indeed in cahoots with iiNet for many months, and that IIA's chief Peter Coroneos had come up with a strategy to fend off AFACT and similar organisations.

Bannon said Coroneos, a lawyer himself, had proposed to amend the ISP code of conduct such that it would be against the code for an ISP to match IP address activity with a specific account — an act which forms the basis of AFACT's evidence that file-sharing was occurring on iiNet's network. Bannon added that Coroneos believed the proposal would be a hit with Privacy Commissioner, Karen Curtis.

Whether Coroneos is allowed to weigh in on the case will be determined by Justice Cowdroy; however, his contribution would only come after the hearing where he may be able to place suggestions on how Cowdroy should rule the case.

Yesterday's proceedings on day three, the hearing saw Justice Cowdroy open by slapping AFACT down for releasing a raft of iiNet emails that were thought by the ISPs legal team to have contained confidential material.

The matter was quickly resolved when Cobden clarified that having viewed the emails, there was nothing in them that would have breached confidentiality.

Topics: Piracy, Government AU, Security, Telcos

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Simple really...

    If AFACT want the internet policed, AFACT should fund the policing.

    iiNet should be able to charge AFACT for the cost of "police officers" and licensing of the software that's required to trace the miscreants.

    Plus of course, AFACT should pay for any administrative and legal costs incurred by iiNet in the application of the law.
  • articel

    There is no breach iinet dont have do do squat.
    iinet can give customer details to AFACT but then they can take it from there and if they want to take leagal proceedings against the iinet customers...well thats up to doe not have to have their own policing team because an anti-piracy or AFACtgroup want them to.
    This case to me is a waste of time...I cant wait to see iinet WIN and claim all their costs +++
  • Why only IINET???

    My question is 'why target iinet??'. Mayby Telstra is behind it - surely iinet is not the only isp that has users accessing torrents?
  • Only the first

    They are targeting iinet first. This is a common technique. Compare it to a criminal who has committed 50 murders. Trying him for 1 might be enough to get him behind bars. In this case they will try iinet and then trying the rest will theoretically be easier because they can reference this case.
  • Why only IINET??

    It sets legal precedent. By going after IINET, if they win, they can then argue in any court of law, that all ISPs shoudl be covered by this ruling.

    The REAL danger is, if they win, they then become judge and jury, forcing all ISPs to become the executioner of any site that THEY deem to be in beach of copyright. This is not just about IINET users.

    Having failed to stop the flow with winning the Napster case, they now go after the larger target.
  • Even simpler

    As Cobden said, AFACT should protect it's own assets, it's no one elses problem. If they can't protect the media they choose to use, then they should move to a model that works.

    Maybe they should talk to microsoft who have dealth with this issue since the 80s. They seem to have done quite well and now have greater revenue streams than all of those that AFACT represent.
  • Why stop there ...

    How is this different from buying a blank CD/DVD and cutting it from an existing disk (not even purchased by yourself, rented etc). Lets get the disk manufactures as why else would they make blank recordable disks?
    Ah, and then the MP3 plays, which can not only record live broadcasts but also copy from DRM media (hit the play, mp3 records via headset jack).
    Illegally obtain copies - low tech 5 finger discounts - taken from shop fronts and then used to make unauthorised copies - how are shop fronts going to be hit.

    Perhaps we should take the studios apart for not having an original movie idea in years.
  • Due Process

    The whole problem with AFACT's case is that they don't want to follow due Process. They need to file the alleged copyright breaches with the police, who then can request from the ISP the records that are needed to investigate and prosecute the accused.

    It not the ISP job to be the Police and it's not AFACT role to be judge and prosecuter. If the court wish to hand their powers over to a organisation who is funded and supported by corporations than I think I need to go live in a different country.
  • That how ARIA were put in their place.

    ARIA was trying to get similar policing in the U.S. and the IAPs give us an address to send the bill.

    If I access proprietary material, how can my IAP be expected to track every user and every download? That's stretching even the resources of agencies like NSA/CIA.
  • Re: Why Stop there

    We regularly burn, copy & share disks of movies downloaded via free to air as well as pay TV sources & have often used Aust Post to mail copies to friends & family.
    Are these 3 carriers also guilty of supporting theft?
  • its a privacy case, not a copyright case

    Just about the case in general...
    This case has nothing to do with copyright. This case is about privacy, and if iiNet is legally obliged not to tell any random person who asks them the name and address of the person using a given IP.

    I cannot understand why the court is going on a an on about bit torrent, when really that would be for the case when AFACT sues the actual account holders of the IP's in question.
  • Apportioning blame

    So by AFACTs reasoning, the Main Roads Department should be prosecuted when I get caught speeding. Because if the road had not been built then I wouldnt be able to speed on it.

    We should also blame the car manufacturer and the oil companies for supplying me with the petrol to put in my fast car. In fact, prosecute everyone except the driver who made the conscious decision to speed!!
  • So, AFACT are spammers. Let's throw the book at them.

    So, they've admitted to sending 100,000 emails that were unsolicited, and of a commercial nature.

    Shouldn't this be classed as spam, and/or harassment?
  • iiNet = easy target

    In reply to "why only IINET" the reason AFACT has gone after them is because they are only a small ISP compared to Telstra. Due to them being small, they don't have a crack team of multi million dollar lawyers at hand. Unlike Telstra, that keeps their lawyers very busy.

    It's very much akin to the Bully syndrome. Bullies never pick on people the same size, or larger. They prey on the little ones.

    AFACT is a bunch of losers who having nothing better to do with their time. Iinet is nothing more than a carrier and all other carriers should be blamed too including aus post and other software companies who make this software to copy stuff with.

    I'd like to know how they are getting customers' IP addresses without offering the files for download themselves. I am sure that either way their conduct is less than what the community would expect.
  • Easier, not easy

    iiNet would be an easier target but don't think for a minute that their legal team is anything but full time and very busy. iiNet is a conglomerate of half a dozen other ISPs don't forget.
  • Who are you

    No they are not but you are. What is your name you dirty pirate?
  • re:Who Are You?

    My Name:
    Mr/rs/s Australian Public.
  • Article

    Since i quite often get annoying email repetitively through my outlook 2007 from my bigpond Webmail,

    I have finally got it working at times, My Outlook 2007 i mean, and then have to go through the multiple emails twice, once to delete them from the inbox, and again from the deleted emails.

    I have at times had in excess of 400 duplicated emails in my Outlook 2007 inbox, should i have sued telstra, and made them clean my mail for me.