AFACT v iiNet: Day 3 – Studios Promoted BitTorrent

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As the court case between anti-piracy group AFACT and ISP iiNet moves into its third day, an interesting element to the ISPs defense has been revealed. iiNet claims that the studios had contractual agreements with BitTorrent Inc, and even promoted their companies on BitTorrent.com, a confusing situation for potential downloaders.

AFACTIt’s day three in the landmark case of AFACT – representing several Hollywood studios – and Aussie ISP iiNet (earlier coverage of day one and day two).

Today a very interesting and somewhat unexpected angle to iiNet’s defense was revealed by the ISP’s barrister, Richard Cobden.

Earlier AFACT had insisted that iiNet did nothing to discourage its subscribers from downloading copyright material and therefore condoned their behavior, but it seems that the studios aren’t exactly blameless when it comes to encouraging the use of BitTorrent.

It now appears that the studios themselves were a source of potential confusion experienced by new BitTorrent users when they were trying to decide (if they were aware at all) what is ok to download and what is not when using the protocol.

Cobden told the court that several of the plaintiffs and members of the MPAA had previously entered into contracts with BitTorrent Inc, the source of the official BitTorrent software.

Furthermore, the logos of these studios appeared prominently on BitTorrent.com and also on Mininova, leading Cobden to declare that the studios “….have engaged, at least from the logo on BitTorrent Inc, in the promotion of BitTorrent, the vehicle for all infringement in this case.”

Cobden then went on to show how a user would go about obtaining the BitTorrent client, noting the above-mentioned logos were placed directly under the ‘free download’ link for the official BitTorrent client.

Once the client was downloaded, the user was then prompted to start searching the web for things to download, but despite the contracts between the studios’ and BitTorrent Inc, nowhere did it indicate that users should not download the studios material, said Cobden.

Downloads of pirate material could be found a couple of clicks away from the studios logos, he added, including links to Torrentz.com and Mininova. Furthermore, despite the agreements the studios had with BitTorrent.com, iiNet had no relationship with that or any other torrent site.

Cobden went on to say that while AFACT seemed only too happy to pressure iiNet to take action against alleged copyright infringers, it took no action against them directly, preferring the ISP to carry the costs of defending the studios’ copyrights instead.

He said that the studios had put forth ”exuberant rhetoric” in respect of the alleged infringements, but iiNet said it conducted itself in similar ways to its rivals Telstra and Optus – who it appears also took no action based on AFACT allegations.

Time and again AFACT has claimed that since iiNet took no action against its allegedly infringing subscribers, this was tantamount to condoning their illegal activities, but unfortunately for the anti-piracy group, this argument was quickly turned around on them by iiNet’s lawyer.

Since AFACT nor the studios took any legal action directly against alleged copyright infringers, they too must’ve condoned their copyright infringements.

The case continues.

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