iiNet has been given a huge victory against a long-running lawsuit by the film and TV studios represented by the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT); which included Village Roadshow, Universal Pictures, Warber Bros, 20th Century Fox, Disney and the Seven Network.
The court finding that iiNet’s role in giving access to copyright infringers to BitTorrent does not mean that it is authorising the infringement, and is protected by a section of the Copyright Act – known as the “safe harbour” section.
“The mere provision of access to the internet is not an authorisation of infringement,” Justice Cowdroy, who served as the judge in the trial, said in his judgement.
“”iiNet is not responsible if an iiNet user uses that system to bring about copyright infringement.”
“The law recognises no positive obligation on any person to protect the copyright of another,” he added.
Justice Cowdroy also said that BitTorrent could be used for legal purposes – like Revision3 and BitTorrent itself.
Unlike the Kazza trial, iiNet was not promoting and encouraging infringement – unlike Kazza with its P2P network. Kazza was forced to shut its operations within Australia or face criminal proceedings.
He also said that the proposition of a notification system to notify users of copyright breaches by suspending or terminating their internet service was not reasonable. If that judgement was in favour of AFACT, that would let AFACT be the judge and would force ISPs to suspend or terminate service as they would fear a lawsuit against AFACT.
Justice Cowdroy however said that the Telecommunications Act would not have prevented iiNet from acting on the notices of infringement given to them by AFACT, but this wasn’t relevant to the case.
The application was dismissed and AFACT has been ordered to pay the legal costs.