Will AFACT's appeal solve anything?

Will AFACT's appeal solve anything?

Summary: Should the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) appeal against the iiNet copyright case verdict be happening at all?


commentary The third afternoon of the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) appeal against the iiNet copyright case verdict was filled with technical legal discussions of words such as "authorise", "public" and "substantial part", giving observers time to ponder "why are we here?"

The obvious answer is that AFACT isn't happy that the internet service provider (ISP) won the original federal court case. This case will set many important precedents and gives significant guidance for how the industry should operate in the future. This fact was acknowledged by Justice Dennis Cowdroy in his original lengthy ruling.

This is why iiNet's barrister Richard Cobden spent yesterday morning arguing that iiNet's general response to AFACT infringement notices was reasonable. It's why his colleague Richard Lancaster took over mid-afternoon to argue the meaning of words and to launch a detailed discussion of the "safe harbour" provisions of the Copyright Act that limit an ISP's liability.

But the details may undo attempts to set precedents. Much of this case relates to the specifics of AFACT's notification procedures and the specifics of iiNet's policies and response. As appeals judge Justice Arthur Emmett noted yesterday, "[there's still] the opportunity for [AFACT's lead barrister] Mr Catterns to start again with a different set of information".

And that benefits no one. "Is it just a matter of who bears the cost of dealing with all this?" Justice Emmett asked. "It just seems to me that out there is a commercial solution."

It's easy to over-simplify this case into good guys versus bad guys. Greedy movie corporations versus the battler ISP protecting its customers. Or, from the other side, the stubborn ISP refusing to help investigate illegal activity. And a legal case makes a dramatic story.

But in the battle against another illegal activity, the distribution of child abuse material, compromises have been reached. Why not in the case of copyright violation?

The appeals proceedings continues in the Federal Court today.

(Front page image credit: BitTorrent Download image by nrkbeta, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Topics: Telcos, Government AU, Legal


Stilgherrian is a freelance journalist, commentator and podcaster interested in big-picture internet issues, especially security, cybercrime and hoovering up bulldust.

He studied computing science and linguistics before a wide-ranging media career and a stint at running an IT business. He can write iptables firewall rules, set a rabbit trap, clear a jam in an IBM model 026 card punch and mix a mean whiskey sour.

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  • In what world is copyright infringement in the same category as Child Abuse? Thats the most ridiculous statement i've ever had the displeasure to read.

    Blocking Child Abuse material is about attempting to stop said abuse... the iiNet v AFACT case is all about greedy out of touch corporations trying to protect their dying business model by getting someone else to pay to make the infringement stop.
  • How can you compare the simple act of filtering websites, to demanding a company to hand over customer's personal details? What if some self-proclaimed paedophile action group went up to iiNet/Telstra/etc with a set of IPs and demanded to be given the customer details? As much as I would like to see that happen if said customers were guilty, what if they weren't? Of course all it seems that the P.A.G. needs is a few multinational companies to back it then basic rights no longer apply.
  • The RIAA and MPAA even scam thir own.

    AFACT - they are so crooked even their bogus PR campaign is a lie.

    http://torrentfreak.com/tech-news-sites-tout-misleading-bittorrent-piracy-study-100724/ [torrentfreak.com]

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100708/02510310122.shtml [techdirt.com]

    http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-ct-disney-20100708,0,4051564.story [latimes.com]
    Jahm Mittt
  • The whole fiasco should have never made it to court. To target iiNet alone is absurd, the internet is a service provided by many companies (ISP's) and it comes "as is" to change it may impact not only pre existing services we all use but also hinder the development of future services to come.
    The RIAA, The MPAA, The AFACT and whoever comes next are all a bunch of clowns, who advises them? they would have to take every ISP from all over the world to court not just iiNet.

    Is it not then more logical to take CISCO to court for inventing the internet?