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.
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.