iiNet, AFACT set for judgement day

iiNet confirms it will consider High Court appeal should ruling go against the ISP

AFACT v iiNet: Both parties set for the judgment this Thursday

AFACT v iiNet: Both parties set for the judgment this Thursday

With only a couple of days left before a historic ruling on a civil action case between the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) and iiNet, the ISP has expressed confidence that its defence throughout the trial was solid.

Speaking to Computerworld, iiNet chief regulatory officer Stephen Dalby said he was upbeat about the ISP's chances this Thursday (February 4) when presiding judge, Justice Cowdroy, is expected to hand down a landmark decision for copyright and the telecommunications industry in Australia.

"We are confident that our defence is built on solid ground [but] we will have to wait and see as it is a complex case," he said.

Dalby added the ISP would use the 21-day window to consider an appeal with the High Court of Australia should the judge rule in AFACT's favour. "We would go through the ruling line by line," he said.

A spokeswoman for the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT ) which represents a collection of film studios and TV broadcasters said it is eager to see the decision but did not provide further comment on the case.

The timing of the verdict in the much-publicised case was unclear earlier this year, but last week the Commonwealth Courts website advertised the hearing date, earlier than many in the industry expected.

The case began in October and was adjourned in November last year with 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.

Cases include:

  • 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.

See more background and articles on the AFACT v iiNet court case

Stay tuned to Computerworld as we report on the ruling at the Federal Court of Australia on Thursday.

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Tags copyrightAFACT v iiNetISPs

More about ACTAndrew Corporation (Australia)BillIinetInternational Federation of the Phonographic IndustryTelenorUniversity of NSW

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