iiNet Beat Film Companies In Major Piracy Case

20 April 2012 | 3:03 pm | Scott Fitzsimons

The high court has ruled in favour of the internet service provider

Australia's highest court has ruled in favour of Perth-based internet service provider iiNet today, removing the liability of internet service providers for piracy carried out by internet users.

The unanimous decision by the High Court upheld the decision by the NSW Federal Court in February. That decision had been appealed by the film and television companies, led by Roadshow, who brought the case against iiNet.

In their ruling the Court writes that, "The Court observed that iiNet had no direct technical power to prevent its customers from using the BitTorrent system to infringe copyright in the appellants' films."

The decision is a landmark case for piracy and will be seen as a big blow to anti-piracy campaigners who have been looking to hold service providers responsible for their users' actions.

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In a statement today iiNet's CEO Michael Malone said, "Increasing the availability of licensed digital content is the best, most practical approach to meet consumer demand and protect copyright. We have consistently said we are eager to work with the studios to make their very desirable material legitimately available to a waiting customer base - and that offer remains the same today."

It is believed the long-running case, which first went to court in November 2008, has cost about $12 million in legal fees and attracted interest from around the world as one of the first of its kind.

Court reporters from The Australian observed today that, "It has put the core foundations of Australian copyright law under the microscope and painstakingly teased them apart to test their resilience in the internet age."

Today the Australasian Performing Right Association [APRA|AMCOS] said the decision "was not one that content creators were expecting."

CEO Brett Cottle said, "Songwriters, composers and music publishers invest considerable time and resources in creating their product and are entitled to have their legitimate rights protected in the online market.

“Legislators, regulators and courts around the world have recognised that ISPs must play a central role in preventing online copyright theft."

He added, "We aren't seeking anything from the ISPs which they haven't already agreed with their own customers via their contract terms and conditions."

They will continue to see a commercial and/or legislative solution to illegal file-sharing of copyrighted material.