AFACT v iiNet decision months away

Case resumes on Monday November 2, but decision unlikely to come till the next year

The legal stoush between the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft ( AFACT ) and Internet service provider (ISP), iiNet, resumes on Monday, but the judge's decision is unlikely to come until next year.

iiNet chief executive officer, Michael Malone, is expected to take the stand to kick off the ISP's case, after AFACT finished presenting its witnesses to the Federal Court of Australia in Sydney two weeks ago.

The case started on October 6 but was adjourned by Justice Cowdrey so that Malone did not have to take the stand and then remain silent for two weeks until it resumed on November 2.

All evidence will be heard within the next two weeks, however Melbourne University Associate Professor of Law, Professor David Brennan, said those interested should not expect a result for some time.

“Once the trial ends, it is highly likely that the court will reserve to take time to consider," Brennan told Computerworld. "In a case such as this, with both legal and commercial significance, it is likely that the period in which the court reserves to prepare its judgment will be measured in months rather than weeks.”

The case is expected to be taken to the High Court of Australia, regardless of who wins this round.

(Read some of the best posts from the first week and second week of the trial.)

In the first two weeks, AFACT, which represents over 30 film studios and TV broadcasters, introduced several witnesses including AFACT's expert witness, Nigel Carson, and representatives from four big film studios, Warner Bros, Paramount, Disney and Fox by video from Los Angeles.

Among many topics discussed the court heard the studios did have agreements in place with BitTorrent — the P2P network identified as being used by iiNet customers to share copyrighted files — but many of these had lapsed.

Paramount's Alfred Perry also revealed BitTorrent was not authorised to display the studio's logo. In iiNet's opening arguments, senior counsellor, Richard Cobden, said many of the studios had contracts with BitTorrent and their logos were displayed on its site.

The court heard the film studios had authorised AFACT or one of its representatives to become an iiNet customer and to download the studio's copyrighted files. AFACT denied authorisation was given. AFACT has previously said there were 94,942 iiNet customer copyright infringements in 59 weeks. iiNet has refuted this claim saying it is "artificially inflated”.

The case opening heard how an AFACT investigator had become an iiNet customer and was downloading copyrighted files. Documents witnessed by Computerworld revealed that iiNet staff were aware of the existence and identity of the customer.

Some of the legal issues at stake and the tactics employed by AFACT have their origins in a landmark copyright case involving the University of NSW library in 1975. Sign up for Computerworld's newsletters to stay up to date.

Got more on this story?Email Computerworld or follow @computerworldau on Twitter and let us know.

Tags Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT)AFACTAFACT v iiNetcopyrightcourt caseiiNet

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5 Comments

rungu

1

BitTorrent is not a network! You guys call yourselves Computerworld but your article falls for the same layman trap as the judge was lead into by the Iinet lawyer (okay maybe in wasn't a trap who knows) but statements like
"Among many topics discussed the court heard the studios did have agreements in place with BitTorrent — the P2P network identified as being used by iiNet customers to share copyrighted files — but many of these had lapsed."
BitTorrent is not a network it is a protocol, blaming BitTorrent the company for bittorent the protocol that is used for sharing content illegally is like accusing the inventors of SMTP being somehow responsible for spam isn't SMTP what spammers use

Anonymous

2

These monkeys at AFACT make my blood boil with anger. Not only are they picking an innocent company from loads of others that are doing exactly the same (and so they should), they are calling themselves the good guys. AFACT is nothing more the pointy end to a corrupt bunch of media pimps years behind the times of today in a failing market created by their own incompetents. Stop penalizing a good company and let the so called companies you represent do their own dirty work. You represent a minority of greedy backwards goons bent on wrecking anything that stands in their way.

Phil

3

You're right on the technical front that BitTorrent is a protocol. But the users themselves and those that shared the files form a network so they are still right too. besides that is just semantics and there's no need to get riled up - they aren't blaming BitTorrent - just saying what was said

Anonymous

4

Pardon me, but isn't AFACT trying to say all these people have broken the law?

If so then why are they breaking the law themselves.

Total hypocrisy to have a go at people then proceed to have one of their own do it themselves. They didn't know is a bad attempt at lying.

BTW - Why has no movie company taken Sony (an owner of picture studios) to court for making DVD Burners. We are arresting people these days for just having an implement to commit a crime. What difference is their in this situation.

Gonna love the judges response. She probably doesn't know how to use a computer anyway.

Anonymous

5

AFACT ignoring the law

What's interesting is the case that all the infringement notices AFACT sent to iinet were sent onward to the police.

It isn't their job to police their traffic, the same as it isn't Telstra's job to listen in on phone calls 'just in case' someone is organising illegal activity. There are government agencies for this.

They are a service provider, and as such under law, are not responsible for how the service is abused, especially if the only evidence provided to them is un-verified logs from an automatic file-trawler bot which HAS been verified to give spurious results. (try putting the words 'unreal tournament' in a text file along with a random number looking like a key and they'll claim it's the full program)

Now correct me if I'm wrong, but if a program snoops on my hard drive without my express permission isn't that a breach of our privacy laws, or some hacking regulation or something?

What's more interesting is that it was as soon as iinet stood up and said they would take part in the net filter trials and publicize the flaws as they occurred. THIS is when they were sued by some of the same group who took Stephen Conroy to a business lunch right before he proposed the filter method on the ISP's.

Convenient for both parties. May or may not be coincidence.

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