iiNet piracy liability looms large

The Federal Court today turned down iiNet's request to limit the consequences of the court case brought against it by the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) to 86 films.

The Federal Court today turned down iiNet's request to limit the consequences of the court case brought against it by the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) to 86 films.

(My DVD Collection (pt.2) image by Andres Rueda, CC2.0)

AFACT's evidence of copyright infringement consists of records of particular IP addresses of iiNet customers making a particular 86 films available online.

Yet AFACT's members have a lot more films (and television shows) on their catalogues which could be affected by any decision the court makes on the issue.

Since AFACT has already said in past hearings that it didn't intend on adding any more to titles to the list of identified films, iiNet had held fast to the line that any subsequent hearings on the matter should be confined to those films.

AFACT complained, however, that limiting the scope would also limit the relief to which its members would be entitled.

Despite iiNet's defiance, Justice Cowdroy said in court today that it wouldn't be appropriate for the hearing to be limited to those films, pointing to similar cases Kazaa and Universial Music versus Cooper where a subset of infringements heard in a case was used as a basis for court orders to be made on the whole catalogue.

Cowdroy also made decisions on other matters. He said that despite iiNet's conviction that AFACT had no proof that its users were making physical copies, the matter would not be dropped before the hearing began. He also ordered that AFACT provide more information on one part of its case.

Future hearing dates for the case were discussed as Justice Cowdroy expressed concern that the matter might run longer than anticipated. He wanted to settle dates in November when the case could be heard to its conclusion without breaks. He considered such a technical case to be better heard all together.

However, because of time pressures from other cases for the legal teams of both parties, November couldn't be decided on today. The parties said they would discuss possible times for hearings further. Cowdroy expressed the concern that if no time was found, the end of the case could end up being heard after January 2010.

AFACT alleges that iiNet allowed its users to download and make available pirated films via its network. It alleges that despite receiving infringement notices, the internet services provider did nothing to stop the infringement occurring.

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