AFACT v iiNet: Judge Asked To Disregard iiNet Evidence

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Continuing with his closing submissions, AFACT's chief barrister claimed there were contradictions in statements given to the court by iiNet witnesses regarding anti-piracy tracking data. On this basis he asked the judge to disregard their evidence, going on to attack claims that the ISP took "reasonable steps" to deal with piracy.

AFACTThe trial continues in the copyright infringement case of AFACT – representing several Hollywood studios – and Aussie ISP iiNet (links to our earlier coverage can be found here) and here.

The case continued in the Federal Court, with AFACT continuing to make its closing submissions, marked by further attempts by barrister Tony Bannon to ruin the credibility of key iiNet witnesses Michael Malone and Steve Dalby.

Referring yet again to iiNet CEO Michael Malone’s earlier and multiple assertions that his company could not disconnect subscribers on mere allegations from a 3rd party, Bannon pointed that Malone had earlier referred to the evidence collected by anti-piracy tracking company DtecNet in a more positive light.

“But when asked the question in cross-examination, the truth is they regarded the notifications as compelling evidence,” said Bannon according to ITNews.

Based on what Bannon tried to insist was a contradiction, that “compelling” and “mere allegations” were incompatible when referring to the same material, Bannon asked the judge to disregard iiNet’s evidence.

Although earlier information about DtecNet’s methods were revealed in a closed-court session, CW reports that the anti-piracy company operated by downloading a portion of a file from iiNet subscribers while recording the IP address, the time of the transfer and the date, the protocol, the client id and a hash value.

Reiterating his earlier claims, Bannon insisted that chief regulatory officer Steve Dalby had deliberately exaggerated his claimed lack of understanding of BitTorrent and the infringement notices sent to iiNet by DtecNet. While Dalby had said that he had waited for AFACT to send more information, in fact internal iiNet email evidence showed that Dalby had discouraged further investigation, he said.

Bannon went on to state that companies like iiNet benefit greatly from illicit file-sharing, since the activity consumes a lot of bandwidth – the commodity the ISP sells to its customers.

Referring to an iiNet press release from late 2008 where the company said it would defend the court case, Bannon said the ISP had stated it could not disconnect a customer on a simple allegation. This, he said, amounted to assuring customers of their safety when carrying out illicit file-sharing.

Earlier in the case, iiNet claimed to have taken “reasonable steps” to deal with infringement on its network, an assertion roundly criticized by Bannon. The AFACT barrister said that iiNet has a technique to limit a subscriber’s access to the Internet if they don’t pay their bills, so this could easily be applied when an allegation of illicit file-sharing is provided by his client.

Bannon also said that since Westnet, the company iiNet had earlier acquired, already had a system in place to notify infringers, it was a “nonsense” to say that iiNet hadn’t got the facilities to deal with AFACT notices.

Bannon went on to tell the court that iiNet’s participation in discussions 4 years ago with the Internet Industry Association to create a code of conduct to deal with copyright infringement allegations, also did not constitute “reasonable steps”, since it didn’t address the “day to day” problems. Furthermore, he said that the overall plan by the ISPs was to aim at “doing nothing”.

Going on to strengthen his claim that iiNet “authorized and encouraged” the infringements of its customers, and in the face of iiNet failing to carry out any actions that could be described as “reasonable steps”, Bannon asserted that this meant that the ISP effectively allowed its subscribers to do whatever they liked on their Internet connection.

The case continues.

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