iiNet was today dragged into the federal court as major film studios filed a case against the ISP for allegedly letting its users download pirated movies and television series.
According to the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft, speaking on behalf of Village Roadshow, Universal Pictures, Warner Bros Entertainment, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Disney Enterprises, Inc and the Seven Network, thousands cases of pirated movies and television shows have passed through iiNet tubes without iiNet doing anything about it.
AFACT executive director Adrianne Pecotic claimed that iiNet had ignored requests from the companies to discipline its customers for breaking copyright laws.
"We have provided in this instance, over a five-month period, the IP addresses of thousands of people who are iiNet customers who are using iiNet internet access to infringe copyright. iiNet has several options within its power to prevent that. They have not done so," Pecotic told ZDNet.com.au.
When they know that copyright infringement is occurring, they have a legal obligation to prevent it
AFACT's Adrianne Pecotic
"This is not about iiNet policing its network. There's no suggestion that they have to police their network. What we're saying and what the law says is that when they know that copyright infringement is occurring, they have a legal obligation to prevent it," she continued.
Options the ISP had, Pecotic said, were giving the customer notice, limiting download speeds or suspending browsers or P2P protocols. She said that nine out of ten people in the US who were given notice did not pirate films again.
The companies want a court order forcing iiNet to prevent its customers from engaging in copyright infringement over its network. If the ruling goes their way, they will likely claim damages, but Pecotic would not name figures.
When asked if other ISPs were undertaking such measures when sent infringement notices, Pectotic highlighted agreements between ISPs and content providers in the US and UK markets, saying only that she intended to focus on iiNet because it was who the court case was against.
She would not say if any other ISP was also ignoring infringement notices, but when asked if there might be future court cases she said "We wouldn't rule out any future litigation, no."
On the choice of ISP, Pecotic said only that iiNet was the third-largest ISP in Australia and thus she didn't consider it to be small.
According to Pecotic, 50,000 people in Australia are employed in companies affected by the film industry, which all feel the brunt of pirating films and tv, and the faster broadband gets, the worse piracy gets.
The case will come back before the court on the 17 December and Pectotic considered that it would run for around 12 months.
iiNet did not reply to requests for comment in time for publication.