Australian ISP iiNET has defended a copyright infringement case brought against it by a group of 34 applicants (See below) representing the major motion picture studios in Australia and the United States.
The group, operating under the name “Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft” (AFACT) claimed that by allowing bit torrent traffic that infringed copyright, iiNET was in fact infringing copyright themselves.
To explain this a little further here is the Federal Court’s summary of the purpose of the proceedings:
“This proceeding raises the question whether an internet service provider or ISP authorises the infringement of copyright of its users or subscribers when they download cinematograph films in a manner which infringes copyright. In Australian copyright law, a person who authorises the infringement of copyright is treated as if they themselves infringed copyright directly. “
After the case, which commenced in November 2008, was completed the Court determined that iiNET had not, in fact, infringed copyright law.
Justice Cowdry’s summary (of his summary) was this:
In this proceeding, the key question is: Did iiNet authorise copyright infringement? The Court answers such question in the negative for three reasons: first because the copyright infringements occurred directly as a result of the use of the BitTorrent system, not the use of the internet, and the respondent did not create and does not control the BitTorrent system; second because the respondent did not have a relevant power to prevent those infringements occurring; and third because the respondent did not sanction, approve or countenance copyright infringement.
You can get the full summary of his decision here .
Clearly this is a massive win for ISPs all over the world and for Internet users too. Not because of the fact that copyright infringement has been permitted (It hasn’t) but because of the massive costs and restrictions that would have been passed onto consumers had a decision been returned that ISPs were in fact responsible for unauthorised infringements on their network.
It seems like the world has returned to normal for a bit (until the certain appeal occurs…).
Cheers to the Australian Legal System!
- UNIVERSAL CITY STUDIOS LLLP
- PARAMOUNT PICTURES CORPORATION
- WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC.
- DISNEY ENTERPRISES, INC.
- COLUMBIA PICTURES INDUSTRIES, INC
- TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX FILM CORPORATION
- PARAMOUNT HOME ENTERTAINMENT (AUSTRALASIA) PTY LTD
- BUENA VISTA HOME ENTERTAINMENT, INC.
- TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX FILM CORPORATION (AUSTRALIA) PTY LIMITED
- UNIVERSAL PICTURES (AUSTRALIA) PTY LTD
- VILLAGE ROADSHOW FILMS (BVI) LTD
- UNIVERSAL PICTURES INTERNATIONAL B.V
- UNIVERSAL CITY STUDIOS PRODUCTIONS LLLP
- RINGERIKE GMBH & CO KG
- INTERNATIONALE FILMPRODUKTION BLACKBIRD VIERTE GMBH & CO KG
- MDBF ZWEITE FILMGESELLSCHAFT MBH & CO KG
- INTERNATIONALE FILMPRODUCKTION RICHTER GMBH & CO KG
- NBC STUDIOS, INC
- DREAMWORKS FILMS L.L.C
- WARNER BROS INTERNATIONAL TELEVISION DISTRIBUTION INC
- TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX HOME ENTERTAINMENT INTERNATIONAL CORPORATION
- WARNER HOME VIDEO PTY LTD
- PATALEX III PRODUCTIONS LIMITED
- LONELY FILM PRODUCTIONS GMBH & CO KG
- SONY PICTURES ANIMATION INC
- UNIVERSAL STUDIOS INTERNATIONAL B.V.
- SONY PICTURES HOME ENTERTAINMENT PTY LTD
- GH ONE LLC
- GH THREE LLC
- BEVERLY BLVD LLC
- WARNER BROS ENTERTAINMENT AUSTRALIA PTY LTD
- TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX HOME ENTERTAINMENT LLC
- SEVEN NETWORK (OPERATIONS) LTD