iiNet's legal counsel this morning ridiculed Village Roadshow's involvement in the case against the ISP, revealing Roadshow Movies had signed a deal to distribute its content over iiNet's so-called Freezone service.
iiNet's general counsel Richard Cobden had asked Village Roadsdow's general counsel, Simon Phillipson, whether he agreed that the presence of legally available copyrighted material online helped cut illegitimate downloads while increasing the legitimate use of copyrighted material. "Yes, I would hope so," Phillipson replied.
Eight Village Roadshow films are within the 86 titles in the scope of the case. While the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) has previously argued that iiNet profited from its customers' piracy by way of increased download quotas, iiNet has maintained it assisted copyright owners by allowing its customers to download material legitimately via its Freezone service, which does not impact a customers' monthly quota.
Phillipson said its decision to join AFACT's litigation was made after it considered what steps an ISP could reasonably take to prevent piracy.
"Roadshow considered what an ISP could do, and the steps it could reasonably take without great cost or effort, and that was one of the factors in Roadshow considering this litigation," he said.
"We considered the material provided (AFACT's infringement notices) to iiNet was sufficient to identify customers, and that we considered it wasn't a great cost or effort to contact those customers in some way in relation to their infringement of our copyright. That was a relatively cost efficient exercise and more cost efficient than Roadshow litigating against those individual users," said Phillipson.
iiNet's Cobden went some way to establishing that Roadshow did not view the internet as inherently bad for the entertainment sector. Philipson agreed today it made some of its content available via iTunes.
The court heard that iiNet had recently entered into an agreement with Roadshow to make a selection of its copyrighted material available for download on its Freezone service. The programs include: The Fairies, Maggie & the Beast, Franklin, Saddle Club, Wiggles, Lazytown, DoodleBops, The Star Girls.
In an attempt to discredit AFACT's claim that the internet had damaged the businesses of copyright holders, Cobden asked Phillipson if he was aware that box office takings were up 10 per cent this year, and that DVD sales continued to increase in Australia. Phillipson said he was aware of this.
Copyright lobbyists, such as AFACT and Music Industry Piracy Investigations (MIPI) have previously equated single instances of copyright breach to missed revenue; however, it has been argued that in many instances, if the film were not available freely, the infringer would have never paid for it anyway.