9:30 am. Court Room 18C. Federal Court of Australia, New South Wales Registry. February 4, 2010.
Judgment day on the historic civil action between a host of Hollywood film Studios - as represented by Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT ) - and Internet Service Provider (ISP) iiNet, is fast approaching.
The timing of the verdict in the much-publicised case was unclear only two weeks ago, but the Commonwealth Courts website has advertised next week’s hearing date, earlier than many in the industry expected.
The case began in October and was adjourned in November last year, legal representatives for the film studios and TV stations claiming a 59-week investigation into iiNet and its customers had discovered "rampant copyright infringements".
During cross-examination, iiNet stated it was legally unable to act as “judge and jury” by disconnecting customers, and that as such its only recourse was to refer cases of possible infringement to other authorities.
Earlier this month, a legal professional said Justice Cowdroy would likely consider rulings by foreign courts, including many favouring anti-piracy campaigners, in making his decision|new.
iLaw director, Andrew Chelvathurai, said the judge would likely consider the outcomes of several instances of legal action in copyright cases that have transpired around the world.
- The French Constitutional Council passing the controversial Hadopi (High Authority for the Diffusion and Protection of Internet Creations) law in October last year
- The UK's Digital Economy Bill currently being debated
- A ruling by Italy's highest appeal court in September last year that led to a nationwide ban on access to notorious torrent site, The Pirate Bay
- A court action in Norway in which the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) threatened the country’s biggest ISP, Telenor, with legal action unless it blocked access to The Pirate Bay. The case was thrown out.
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.
The case is expected to be taken to the High Court of Australia, regardless of who wins.