To The Bitter End: AFACT Takes BitTorrent Piracy Case To The High Court

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After a pair of unsuccessful attempts at making Aussie ISP iiNet responsible for the copyright infringing activities of their users, the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft is refusing to give in. The Hollywood-backed group is now taking its case to the High Court, claiming that two of the three judges in the appeal did not apply legal tests correctly.

Today’s press release from AFACT, the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft, needs to be read very carefully. While seasoned readers of TorrentFreak and other publications which are becoming increasingly suspicious of the propaganda war down under, to the casual passer-by it might appear that AFACT had come out on top in their recent case against ISP iiNet.

“Despite being successful on many grounds in their appeal to the Full Federal Court, the film companies will seek to overturn the ruling that iiNet did not authorise the acts of infringement that it knew occurred on its internet service,” the release reads.

For those on the other side of the debate, “successful on many grounds” actually grinds down to “lost the case for a second time” as in February the Full Bench of the Federal Court dismissed the movie industry’s appeal against last year’s judgment which found that ISP iiNet did not authorize the copyright infringements of its file-sharing customers.

Not that AFACT don’t have a point, though. If the movie industry had provided iiNet with better infringement notices in the first instance and the ISP had still not acted on them, the outcome of the case may have been different, the court decided.

“Prior to the case, iiNet was provided with substantial evidence of copyright infringement by users on its network, which iiNet accepted was 100% accurate,” said AFACT this morning. Although the words “100% accurate” don’t appear to have been used by iiNet verbatim, in court the ISP did use the word “compelling” to describe AFACT notices.

Nevertheless, two of three judges in the Federal Court found that iiNet had not authorized the infringing activities of their file-sharing subscribers and it is against this majority decision that AFACT are appealing.

“We say [the judges] did not apply the legal test for authorisation correctly,” AFACT chief Neil Gane said.

Furthermore, AFACT says that the Court’s conclusion – that iiNet did not have enough knowledge of infringements taking place in order to be found as authorizing them – was also wrong.

“We are confident of our grounds for appeal and hopeful that special leave to the High Court will be granted,” Gane concludes.

However, while AFACT are like a dog with a bone in pursuing this legal action, iiNet continues to call for the movie industry to spend their money on something more creative.

“It’s time for the film industry and copyright holders to work with the industry to make their content legitimately available,” iiNet’s Chief Executive Officer Michael Malone said today in response to AFACT’s announcement.

Malone said iiNet had received positive feedback “from both consumers and the industry” following the publication of its ‘Encouraging Legitimate use of Online Content‘ report earlier this month and that all parties should consider moving forward on that basis.

If the case does indeed move to the High Court, no decision is expected until late 2011 or early 2012.


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