update The Federal Court's Justice Cowdroy noted in an initial hearing today that the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) would provide more information to iiNet on its case against the ISP by mid January in preparation for a scheduled hearing in early February.
Correction: We incorrectly reported that Justice Cowdroy had ordered AFACT to provide extra information to iiNet before 16 January, following a request from the ISP. In fact, he noted that AFACT had said it would do so.
AFACT — 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 — has brought a case against iiNet for allegedly allowing its users to download thousands of pirated films and television shows using its network.
"We are preparing our evidence," AFACT counsel Christian Dimitriadis told the court. "We have served some already, and will serve some more before Christmas." iiNet counsel Neil Murray said the ISP hadn't completed its investigations on whether it accepted AFACT's evidence, and had sent a letter to AFACT requesting particulars on the alleged infringements. Murray said iiNet didn't yet have a handle on how AFACT had technically conducted the investigations which led to unearthing the alleged copyright infringements.
Dimitriadis said that it would respond to the letter, possibly before next week, although he believed the information which iiNet already had to be substantial. "[It's] more comprehensive than what one would normally see in a case such as the present," he said. Justice Cowdroy noted that AFACT would respond before 16 January.
Dimitriadis talked about similarities between this case and earlier cases against peer-to-peer software Kazaa and retired police officer Stephen Cooper. Both of the defendants were found liable for copyright infringements in those cases. He said that iiNet would likely fall upon the "safe harbour" provisions in copyright legislation, but AFACT did not believe the provisions would help iiNet.
The parties agreed that iiNet would have its defence ready by 5 February 2009 and that the case would be heard on 6 February.
In a statement today, iiNet said that it would vigorously defend the action: "The law currently provides a process for investigating copyright theft or any other illegal activity using the internet. AFACT did not use this process."