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: Security, Government : AU, Telcos


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, s... Full Bio

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