Industry welcomes iiNet appeal win

Industry welcomes iiNet appeal win

Summary: The telco industry has applauded the Federal Court dismissing an appeal for the landmark copyright case brought against iiNet by copyright action group the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT).


The telco industry has applauded the Federal Court dismissing an appeal for the landmark copyright case brought against iiNet by copyright action group the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT).


(My trusty gavel image by Brian Turner, CC2.0)

The federation commenced legal action against iiNet in the Federal Court in November 2008, hoping to prove the internet provider liable for copyright infringement conducted by its subscribers.

It claimed the internet service provider (ISP) had not taken reasonable steps to prevent customers pirating copyright video over its network.

Today the full bench of the Federal Court dismissed AFACT's appeal.

iiNet managing director Michael Malone said outside court that the case has not stopped one instance of piracy.

"All this legal action hasn't stopped one person downloading anywhere in Australia."

"There needs to be a lot more clarity as to what is expected of telcos, so ultimately this will only be resolved by governments stepping in," Malone said.

AFACT executive director Neil Gane said iiNet must take responsibility for copyright infringement on its network.

"This is a case where the ISP had admitted to tens of thousands of copyright infringements on its network, and it does not have to lift a finger to prevent them," Gane said.

"It cannot be right that in effect the ISP, who has the power to prevent copyright infringement online and has admitted they are taking place, does not share the responsibility to stop it."

Gane said it is too early to comment on the next move AFACT will take, or whether it will appeal the decision. It has 28 days to decide.

Internode regulatory chief John Lindsay welcomed the decision favouring friend and rival iiNet.

"Internode hopes this decision settles the matter and we will continue to work with rights holders to promote legal content," Lindsay said.

Peter Coroneos, the outgoing head of the Internet Industry Association which assisted iiNet in its initial case, said he hopes AFACT will not appeal.

"The IIA has consistently maintained it is not the role of internet providers as intermediary to enforce third-party rights, but we hope now that the decision will enable the rights holders to work with the industry to develop a model so that end users can be provided compelling lawful content in Australia."

He said he will maintain a close relationship with iiNet in the event of an AFACT appeal.

"I hope an appeal won't be necessary. I think it's time we moved along on this issue and begin to address the market failures in innovation," said Coroneos.

Exetel head John Linton said he thought the result was "never in doubt".

"The case was appallingly run by AFACT and the result was never, if you can use such a word in legal matters, in doubt.

"I remain very happy that Exetel didn't have to go through this experience — we have/had neither the money nor the time."

Pirate Party president Rodney Serkowski welcomed the iiNet win.

"An imposition of such a regulatory burden would unjustifiably increase costs for ISPs and, invariably, consumers. It would also necessitate incursions into consumers' privacy, something the Telecommunications Act presently forbids," Serkowski said in a statement.

"Lawmakers should be wary of industry propaganda dressed as studies that purposefully conflate issues and make completely fraudulent conclusions about the economic impacts of file sharing.

"We believe that instead of shifting to an even more draconian enforcement of copyright, stigmatising and repressing Australians who share knowledge, culture and information, the Australian Government must begin to accept the legitimacy of sharing, and the benefits it accrues to both creators and consumers, and those in between."

Serkowski said that file sharing is positive "both culturally and economically", dubbing AFACT a "relic" which is forced to pursue a strategy of "fear, uncertainty and doubt" because of the current legal frameworks.

"For these organisations to change, law makers must change the legal framework within which they operate, making substantive changes that respect the freedom of expression and privacy. It requires changes that recognise the legitimacy of sharing and that encourage it."

Telstra said it will review particular rulings of the case which may be a source of concern.

Optus said it was pleased and would be looking at the judgement in more detail. "Under Australian law there are remedies available to copyright holders, including taking action directly against those alleged to be infringing rights," it said in a statement.

Topics: Telcos, Government AU

Darren Pauli

About Darren Pauli

Darren Pauli has been writing about technology for almost five years, he covers a gamut of news with a special focus on security, keeping readers informed about the world of cyber criminals and the safety measures needed to thwart them.

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  • AFACT has claimed the internet service provider iiNet had not taken reasonable steps to prevent customers pirating copyright video.

    One could also say that AFACT has taken NO STEPS to come up with reasonable ideas that ISP's could apply. Their only idea is that the ISP's should do all he hard work for them.

    Here's one they can try:
    1. They tell the ISP someone has done something naughty.
    2. The ISP will take their word, and cancel the users access with no due process.
    3. AFACT agree HERE AND NOW that if the user "objects" then AFACT must:
    a. pay the users legal costs up front,
    b. prove in a court that the user DID commit piracy, and
    c. if they lose, they will pay $50,000 compensation to the user for slander, etc.

    Seems very fair to me ... much like their position they have used to date.
  • AFACT's actions to date have ensured that I long ago ceased & will never again rent or purchase any of their member's Region Coded, DRM crippled media that I can't easily adapt to my intended usage/hardware.

    What's next? Blocking TV viewers from time-shifting or copying broadcast media?
  • What's next? On the corporatist wish list is © copyright symbol on every piece of gene code in our living ecosystem, and any built with Gaia's recently opened toolbox. We live in a great era of popular awareness, may it continue.
  • "It cannot be right that in effect the ISP, who has the power to prevent copyright infringement online and has admitted they are taking place, does not share the responsibility to stop it."

    but it is right, the courts keep reaffirming that, this is a reality that AFACT should accept.
  • Sucked in AFACT. The only orgs more deserving of this than you are MS & Apple. You guys are the bacteria that live off the scum from dead flesh...
  • If you're AFACT, you think its your natural right for everyone to be guilty until proven innocent. If they got the ISP's to be their police, next thing would be the ISP's having to check every email sent on their networks, just in case they contained a copyrighted picture, or an mp3.

    AFACT, learn this. The world changes, and its up to you to adapt to those changes. 40 years ago it was video, which you adapted to, 10 years ago it was mp3's, which the music industry (eventually) adapted to, now its avi's.

    Find a method of working WITH the technology, rather than trying to put the genie back in the bottle, and unlike the music industry with iTunes, you might actually come out ahead.

    Think about this. There is a reason most movies listed for download are 700 meg. Simply, its the right size to burn to a CD, and still maintain a watchable quality. Sell versions of that size for a nominal amount, with no DRM, and people will flock to the service.

    Its about changing your model to work with how the world has evolved. So far, both the movie and music industry have been perfectly happy to run with the free benefits the internet offers (free/cheap publicity, very easy distribution of information), yet refuse to appreciate there are negatives that go along with those benefits. If you want to stop one, you need to stop the other.
    • You're right! We're the suckers paying for the bandwidth that carries their advertising!
  • For every new lock, someone else designs a new key. These corporations are only as big and powerful as they are because over decades they have ripped off the artists (singers, actors, production crew, writers) and stuffed there own coffers. Australians have been shown time and time again to be paying more per "media unit" than any other nation in the world.

    I honestly believe that most cases of "piracy" amount to a sale the corporations would not have received in the first place. I was sent a download link that I was told I would appreciate, but with no clue as to the contents. It turned out to be the remake of "The Day the Earth Stood Still". This was so pre-pre-pre-release, that it must have been uploaded from the editing suite, and here was looking at something that wasn't in cinemas yet, let alone released on a disc format. Reasonably good movie, but it would have been better with a completely new title and deletion of the extremely vague references to the Original. If I had seen it at a Cinema I would have been demanding my money back.

    These companies are raking in $millions per day, so "piracy" certainly is **NOT** hurting the ledger books.

    In the days of vinyl, most people used to prefer to buy the LP and make a home tape. One would then play the tape to death, leaving the LP on the shelf undamaged. Once the tape wore out a new one was made from the LP. This wasn't piracy. This was protecting one's investment.

    I now do the same with DVDs and CDs because they are so easily scratched. The original stays on the shelf and the "burn" is the one that is regularly played. I am PROTECTING MY INVESTMENT in that particular unit of media.

    When the DOJ fined Microsoft $1M per day over its anti-competitive practices, Bill Gates' comment was, "I can afford three minutes out of my day." If the members of AFACT and other similar conglomerates took the same attitude toward "piracy", they would still be making lots of money, they would be SAVING the massive legal fees and thus not be clogging up the Courts with what really amounts to trivial matters.
  • next potential targets:
    1. electricity company - they facilitate computer to work to allow the download and storage of mp3
    2. music artist - they create a great hit and resulted in end users downloading their songs
    3. restaurants - they give people energy to use computer

    any others?
    • Macca's Free Wifi.
      Real Estate agents for renting house in which infringement occurred.
      BHP for mining the minerals used to build the computer.
      NSA for inventing the internet.

      Greedy idiots that don't know when to quit. Stop fighting your customers...... Because they are getting sick of it and they bite.... Hard!
  • What is the problem, downloaded AVI's are used as try before you buy anyway, if the movie is worth watching then I would normally buy a hard copy, if it is crap then it goes to the recycle bin without any processing, the only loss, my not cheaply purchased bandwidth. The only major benefit is that with what I may download and like enough to purchase also gets used as an AVI on my home video server so as Treknology mentioned so eloquently my overpriced hard copy doesnt get played to death, I also use this process to provide AVI copies of Movies I have purchased over many years, as it was once put. "When you buy any media, you are not buying the product, you are buying a licence to use it" it does not state what format that should be in, and after all does not one of the worlds biggest media corporations also market all of the means and media to infringe copywright, talk about hypocracy.