AFACT Blasts Judge, Will Appeal iiNet ISP Liability Decision

In early February, AFACT, representing several Hollywood movie studios, lost its case against Aussie ISP iiNet after a judge ruled the ISP was not responsible for the infringements of its subscribers. Now the anti-piracy group is claiming that Justice Cowdroy was wrong on almost all points and will appeal his decision.

AFACTEarlier this month it was celebrations all round for the operators of Aussie ISP iiNet, as they successfully defended a Hollywood movie studio legal onslaught directed by AFACT, the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft.

Village Roadshow, Universal Pictures, Warner Bros Entertainment, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Disney Enterprises, Inc. and the Seven Network took iiNet to court, claiming that the ISP did nothing to stop its customers from sharing copyright media via BitTorrent and was therefore liable for their infringements.

Judge Justice Dennis Cowdroy disagreed, and handed a huge victory to iiNet.

Today marked the deadline for AFACT to appeal the decision and as expected, they did just that.

In a statement the anti-piracy group said there were good grounds to appeal a judgment which it is dramatically claiming has left an “unworkable environment for content creators and content providers and represents a serious threat to Australia’s digital economy.”

AFACT boss Neil Gane said the judgment conflicted with established copyright law in Australia.

“The court found large scale copyright infringements, that iiNet knew they were
occurring, that iiNet had the contractual and technical capacity to stop them and iiNet did nothing about them,” he said. “In line with previous case law, this would have amounted to authorization of copyright infringement.”

Gane went on to state that the ruling rendered so-called ‘safe harbor’ provisions of copyright ineffective. “If this decision stands, the ISPs have all the protection without any of the responsibility,” he said.

AFACT’s appeal, filed with the Fedral Court today, consists of 15 areas where they believe Justice Cowdroy got it wrong. An analysis of the appeal grounds can be found here.

Chief of iiNet, Michael Malone, said Justice Cowdroy’s judgment was unequivocal and the company is confident the Court will stand by its original ruling, noting that more legal proceedings will not provide a solution.

“It is more than disappointing and frustrating that the studios have chosen this unproductive path,” Mr Malone said in a statement. “This legal case has not stopped one illegal download and further legal appeals will not stop piracy.

“The studios themselves admitted during the court hearings that making content freely and cheaply available online was an effective way to combat piracy. People are crying out to access the studios materials, so much so some are prepared to steal it. A more effective approach would be for the studios to make their content more readily and cheaply available online,” notes Malone.

Upon losing the original trial, AFACT was ordered to pay iiNet’s legal costs, revealed to be $5.7 million ($5.08 million USD). Earlier this week AFACT said it will return to court in order to avoid paying some of the costs.

The appeal hearing for the original case is likely be held this year and according to iiNet’s Michael Malone, it should take up significantly fewer days than first time around.

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