The Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) this morning makes its pitch to the High Court, asking it to hear a final appeal for its long-running piracy lawsuit against iiNet.
In 2008, AFACT took iiNet to court, seeking a ruling that the internet service provider (ISP) had authorised its users to infringe copyright by failing to act on infringement notices provided by the federation. iiNet won the case and a subsequent appeal; however, experts have said that the appeal judgement laid out a framework for AFACT to compel ISPs to act on infringement notices.
After losing that appeal, AFACT sought leave to appeal the matter before the High Court of Australia, and at 9:30am in Sydney today, the court will hear short legal arguments from both AFACT and iiNet before deciding on whether the federation will be granted a full hearing of the case before the High Court.
Should special leave be granted to AFACT, it must then file a notice of appeal within 14 days. iiNet then has 14 days to serve a notice of cross-appeal. A hearing date will be set after both parties are given time to make written submissions. According to iiNet, the earliest the case could be heard would be between 25 October and 3 November 2011, with the next available hearing between 29 November and 8 December.
The case is an important one, because it will affect the way copyright is handled in Australia in the future.
Following AFACT's most recent loss, iiNet and the Internet Industry Association have separately developed models for ISPs to deal with copyright infringement on their networks, while AFACT has continued to push ISPs to enact a "three strikes" system where users are punished with disconnection from the internet for repeat infringements on copyright. AFACT has also continued to lobby government around creating legislation to prevent piracy; however, the government has previously stated that it will wait until the iiNet case has been resolved.
iiNet CEO Michael Malone said in a statement that the industry as a whole needs to work together to stop illegal downloads.
"We remain committed to developing a workable industry solution that sees more content readily and cheaply available online as well as a sensible model adopted for dealing with repeated copyright infringement activity," he said. "This approach would be a win-win for all concerned," said Malone.
"While we will continue to defend our position in these forthcoming proceedings if necessary, I remain hopeful that through genuine industry-wide discussions a better outcome for all concerned will be developed."