AFACT vs iiNet: ISP receives warrants daily

ISP gets warrants on a daily basis to identify user IP addresses suspected of copyright infringements

iiNet receives warrants and other orders to match users' IP addresses suspected of copyright infringement with internal contact details on a daily basis, the ISP's CEO Michael Malone said in its civil case against the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) at the Federal Court of Australia today.

Malone, under cross-examination, said the ISP regularly received and complied with these requests, among the “hundreds and thousands” of general notices of alleged infringement they also receive.

However, he was unable to testify to the exact or approximate number of such warrants, as he had been ordered by the Attorney-General’s Office not to divulge those details.

The news of the daily warrnats comes on the back of iiNet statements saying they have previously received over 1000 emails from copyright holders regarding copyright breaches over a seven day period, which itself followed AFACT’s allegation that over 90,000 copyright breaches had been enacted by iiNet customers.

Today was the second day Malone was in the stand after the CEO kicked off the ISP's case yesterday. Earlier in the day, Malone said despite “compelling evidence” suggesting users were downloading illicit files, such as child pornography, the ISP did not have the legal ability to disconnect users.

The case continues this week.

The case so far:

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, has 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.

iiNet has also stated that they believe they are legally unable to act as “judge and jury” by disconnecting customers, and that as such their only recourse is to[refer cases of possible infringement to other authorities| articleid: 324798]

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.

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Tags iiNetAustralian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT)AFACT v iiNetFederal Court of Australia

More about ACTAttorney-GeneralBrennan ITetworkIinetUniversity of NSWWarner Bros

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