The big movie studios will not stop pirates even if the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) wins damages against iiNet, according to the Perth-based Internet Service Provider (ISP).
The case was dismissed by the Federal Court of Australia in February this year, following a five-month investigation that uncovered instances of copyright infringements by users of iiNet’s services. Justice Cowdroy found the ISP did not authorise the acts of its customers, despite acknowledging copyright infringement.
iiNet’s chief executive officer, Michael Malone, said AFACT will not stop piracy by pursuing the lawsuit.
“This legal case has not stopped one illegal download and further legal appeals will not stop piracy,” Malone said in a written statement.
“The studios themselves admitted during the court hearings that making content freely and cheaply available online was an effective way to combat piracy.”
The statement clashes with the opinion of some in the industry which suggests iiNet was targeted by AFACT because it belongs to a group of ISPs that offer high-capacity downloads at a low cost.
AFACT represents film companies including Village Roadshow, Universal Pictures, Warner Bros Entertainment, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Disney Enterprises and the Seven Network.
Exetel managing director, John Linton, said the company had received legal advice before the case to send infringement notices to customers alleged to have downloaded copyright material then “get a denial and therefore be in a position to say that we complied with the copyright holder's request but could do nothing further”. Exetel has now dropped the system.
Malone said he is confident the final court decision, which could drag out to 2015 – will be in iiNet’s favour.
“People are crying out to access the studios materials, so much so some are prepared to steal it. A more effective approach would be for the studios to make their content more readily and cheaply available online,” Malone said.
“Court proceedings and more legal challenges only serve to delay… and in the meantime more copyright material will be stolen.”
Melbourne University associate professor, David Brennan, said an appeal was likely and interested parties are "probably looking at 2011 or 2012 before a final judicial determination".