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Australia Piracy The Courts

Australian ISP Wins Case Against Movie Studios 155

trawg writes "The Australian High Court has just dismissed an appeal by Australian and American media companies against ISP iiNet, in what will hopefully be the final step in an ongoing copyright lawsuit drama. The Court noted that 'iiNet had no direct technical power to prevent its customers from using the BitTorrent system to infringe copyright.' Ultimately, the court has held that iiNet's inactivity to act on infringement notices didn't imply any sort of authorization of that infringement by their customers. Good news for Australians as a clear line has been drawn that will help ensure ISPs don't have to bear the cost of policing their customers."
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Australian ISP Wins Case Against Movie Studios

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  • Re:Great news (Score:5, Informative)

    by kava_kicks ( 727490 ) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @09:19PM (#39741413)
    As an Australian, this is a big relief. iiNet are actually a pretty good ISP too: great network, good service, reasonable prices.
  • The trouble is... (Score:5, Informative)

    by countach ( 534280 ) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @09:22PM (#39741437)

    The trouble is, when the courts smack down the media companies, the government steps in with new legislation, since they are in the back pocket of the media companies. Stephen Conroy, Labor's communication minister has already signalled that when iiNet loses, he's going to do just that.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 19, 2012 @09:32PM (#39741509)

    Here's the Judgement Summary:
    Here's the full Judgement:

    In the full judgement, the Justices systematically (and unanimously!) take apart the assertion that iiNet had "authorised" infringement just because they refused to kowtow to demands that they police their users for the copyright lobby. They point out that it's not appropriate (or legal) for an ISP to monitor or police their users' private traffic at the demand of another private entity.

    Further, they held that the notices of infringement (aka shakedown letters that most ISPs meekly pass along) "did not provide iiNet with a reasonable basis for sending warning notices to individual customers containing threats to suspend or terminate those customers' accounts".

    And at the very end, after the Justices explicitly provide some useful closing of loopholes by carefully passing over the legislation and common law cited by the copyright lobby... they order said lobby to pay all iiNet's costs.


  • by Yonan ( 883124 ) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @09:47PM (#39741637)
    The two main courses now of action seem to be: the media companies start offering media in a reasonable format in a reasonable timeframe at a reasonable price, or they lobby government and pursue backroom deals. The first is supported by many and has been proven to work fairly well with PC games by Valve with Steam, and iiNet has said it would be happy to help with this. The second however is much more in character, despite having been proven fairly well to not work.
  • Re:Great news (Score:5, Informative)

    by crafty.munchkin ( 1220528 ) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @09:58PM (#39741717)
    Also, very glad to see that the High court awarded costs in iiNet's favour - translation, the MAFIAA have to pay all of iiNet's lawyers bill!!!
  • Re:The trouble is... (Score:4, Informative)

    by powerspike ( 729889 ) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @10:01PM (#39741733)
    Your Forgetting that the standing government is going to lose the next election, hell they might not even get to the end of their term. When a government is in this position they'll pass a lot of legislation that will be bad, look at previous governments in this country that knew they where going to lose - like nsw labour selling off the power companies etc...
  • Re:Great news (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 19, 2012 @10:52PM (#39741993)

    Also, very glad to see that the High court awarded costs in iiNet's favour - translation, the MAFIAA have to pay all of iiNet's lawyers bill

    It is the default in Australia that a losing party will be ordered to pay the winning party's inter-party costs. It helps to inhibit frivolous litigation.

  • Re:Great news (Score:5, Informative)

    by Fluffeh ( 1273756 ) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @11:00PM (#39742045)

    "Oh well, we lost fair and square, let's move on"

    They didn't, the lost their original case, their appeal was denied and they took it to the High Court of Australia - pretty much the equivalent of SCOTUS in the US. There really isn't anywhere further for them to take this case.

    Sure, they might try down a parallel path with a similar objective, but a wonderful side effect of taking it to the High Court is that now pretty much any similar path they try will still be in the shadow of this ruling - making it greatly more difficult for them to introduce anything remotely similar.

  • Re:Here's hoping (Score:5, Informative)

    by TENTH SHOW JAM ( 599239 ) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @11:01PM (#39742047) Homepage

    There is a reasonable technical way to police bit torrent. (watch torrent, determine torrents contents is your intellectual property, get list of IP addresses from the swarm, match those to users via ISP) But now the studios have to subpoena the ISPs with enough details to satisfy the ISPs legal departments then sue or prosecute the end users. The studio wanted the system where they got to shortcut the legal system at the expense of the ISP to punish the end user.

    Basically the court said "If it's worth doing, it's worth doing properly. If it ain't worth doing, stop doing it."

  • Re:Short lived (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 19, 2012 @11:11PM (#39742095)

    Well the reason for that is that the average aussie doesn't know or care about politics, but mandatory voting exists here. So, every election they get out their crayons to draw penises on the ballot, or flip a coin to decide who to vote for.

    Informality rates are around 5% [], that includes both ballots spoilt by accident and those deliberately spoil. Average?!

    There are perhaps 1-2% who care enough to decide properly ...

    That figure should be 75-80%. See, I can pull bogus figures out of my arse too!

    ... hence most aussie elections go down to the wire 49-50 between labor and liberal.

    Non sequitur.

    I say that as someone who lives here :D

    Clearly residency does not equate with being well informed. Lemme guess ... your name is not Anthony Green?

  • by kocsonya ( 141716 ) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @11:43PM (#39742233)

    Yes, iiNet won and the studios lost. Now here's the reaction from the studos' media representative (

    AFACT [*] managing director Neil Gane said the group would lobby for changes to copyright laws following the decision.

    "Now that we have taken this issue to the highest court in the land, it is time for government to act," Mr Gane said.

    "The Government has always maintained that content is the key driver of digital economic growth. I'm sure the Government would not want copyright infringement to continue unabated across Australian networks, especially with the National Broadband Network soon to be rolled out."

    [*] AFACT is the Australian equivalent of the RIAA/MPAA, or rather, as some Wikileaks memos have shown, they are the Australian arm of the RIAA/MPAA, the control directly coming from the States.

    So, the copyright industry's attitude is that "if what we demand is unlawful, we will lobby/bribe/force the government to change the law to our favour". Knowing the Australian parliament, probably they will succeed in a reasonably short time.

  • Re:All aussies (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 20, 2012 @01:32AM (#39742783)

    Not sure why this was modded down. Probably by someone not familiar with the Aussie movie it came from. It is a quote made because of a victory in the High Court, so kinda relevant here.

    Can someone mod this up?

  • Re:Great news (Score:5, Informative)

    by Boronx ( 228853 ) <evonreis@mohr-engineerin g . com> on Friday April 20, 2012 @02:42AM (#39743037) Homepage Journal

    There's a whole slew of ideas that were once considered so important they were taken for granted but have fallen out so thoroughly that people today barely even think of them at all.

    For instance, thirty years ago there was a consensus that one company shouldn't control huge swaths of the media. It was understood that even the appearance of the conflict of interest was not to be tolerated.

    You'll get blank stares these days if you bring them up.

  • by Hyperhaplo ( 575219 ) on Friday April 20, 2012 @05:27AM (#39743817)

    Perhaps the real solution is to have the 'AFACT' actually live in Australia for several months... if they survive - [] - then perhaps they can try carrying on with this crap.

    For those who are not aware, AFACT stands for 'Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft' yet most of the companies behind AFACT are American. It would be better named American Federation Against Copyright Theft.

    I am not a lawyer, but I am surprised that no one has challenged the name of this business.. for example with the intent to force them to change it from 'Australian' to 'American' as right now they could well be deemed to be passing off in a deliberate attempt to deceive the public - which would be classified as a type of fraud.

    A view from a lawyer or legal professional on this would be useful if anyone out there cares to comment..

"Well, it don't make the sun shine, but at least it don't deepen the shit." -- Straiter Empy, in _Riddley_Walker_ by Russell Hoban