AFACT vs iiNet round 3

This time piracy wars hit the High Court


AFACT, the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft, has re-booted its war with ISP iiNet after getting clearance to appeal its case to the High Court.

The Hollywood studio-backed AFACT had its case against ISP iiNet struck down twice by the Federal Court, the most recent loss in February.

"Thirty-four film and television industry companies that commenced legal action against iiNet for authorising the copyright infringement of its users today welcomed the High Court decision to grant them special leave to appeal," AFACT said in a statement.

While the minority opinion in its appeal to the Federal Court endorsed some points made by the studios - particularly that iiNet could have acted against pirates, but chose not to - the majority opinion was that iiNet's actions did not amount to "authorising" copyright infringement by its users. It is this ruling that the film and TV cabal now hopes to overturn.

iiNet issued its own statement this morning, arguing that production businesses must find new ways of offering their content online in order to curb the amount of illegal downloading occurring within Australia.

AFACT executive director Neil Gane told The Canberra Times that he believed the ideal model to emulate should be based around the recent agreement between US content owners and the five top ISPs where they will co-operate to target online pirates. Part of the strategy includes subjecting internet accounts that have been engaged in file sharing with increasing levels of action, ranging from notification letters to throttling of download limits. "Seventy per cent of account holders that receive notices from their ISP cease infringing," Gane said.

iiNet chief executive Michael Malone said in a statement that the ISP “will continue to defend our position in these proceedings if necessary.”

Malone believes that a better outcome for all concerned is a genuine whole-of-industry discussion and approach to make content legitimately available online and to tackle illegal downloads.

“I know the Internet industry is eager to work with the film industry and copyright holders to develop a workable solution. We remain committed to developing an industry solution that sees more content readily and cheaply available online as well as a sensible model for dealing with repeated copyright infringement activity,” he said.

The High Court hearings will occur later this year. ®


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