AFACT v iiNet: Day 9 – AFACT Attacks iiNet Piracy Policy

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Day nine of the trial between anti-piracy group AFACT and Aussie ISP iiNet. Today iiNet CEO Michael Malone was extensively cross-examined by AFACT's senior counsel over his company's piracy policy and moves he took to change that of Westnet, the ISP iiNet acquired in 2008.

AFACTIt’s day nine in the copyright infringement case of AFACT – representing several Hollywood studios – and Aussie ISP iiNet (earlier coverage of day one, day two, day three, day four , day five, day six, day seven, day eight.

Today, iiNet CEO Michael Malone was questioned at length over dealings he had with Westnet, another ISP which was acquired by his company for AUS $81 million in May 2008.

Westnet had developed an automated system to pass on infringement notices from copyright holders to its customers, a process which Malone earlier described as “making more work for no benefit,” and was said to be scathing in defense of due process and consumer rights.

“Taking the opposing argument, a random third party is lodging an unsubstantiated accusation against a customer and you’re passing it on?” wrote Malone in an email to Westnet, continuing, “Your current approach is doing damage to the industry and iiNet’s position on this matter.”

According to itNews, today Malone admitted he had “hit the roof” when he had discovered Westnet’s policy on infringement notices.

When any company acquires another there is often a need to standardize procedures and policies, and with iiNet and Westnet the position was no different. Malone said that whenever he found differences in policies between the two companies he took steps to bring those of Westnet into line with those at iiNet. He also stated that he was unaware that Westnet had failed to follow his instructions and adopt iiNet group policy following the acquisition.

One of the reasons he sought to change the Westnet policy, he said, was to bring the company into line with the position held by the Internet Industry Association on the issue.

Cross-examining Malone on iiNet’s role in providing a broadband service which enabled users to share movies using BitTorrent, senior counsel Tony Bannon for the movie industry referred to infringement notices sent to iiNet for the Sony movie, Pineapple Express.

According to CW, Malone responded that as a mere service provider, iiNet had no way of knowing if any of its customers were engaged in copyright infringement, but could confirm that the individual who allegedly committed the breaches was still an iiNet customer.

The company was not aware, however, if the customer continued to breach copyright.

The case continues tomorrow.

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