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Monday, 15 June 2009 13:56

iiNet wins another round in copyright case

Perth-based ISP iiNet (ASX: IIN) has scored a minor victory in its legal battle with film and TV organisations that are pursuing it for alleged breaches of copyright by not preventing its customers illegally accessing copyright material via its services.

Village Roadshow, Universal Pictures, Warner Bros, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, 20th Century Fox and Disney, as well as the Seven Network initiated the action against iiNet last November. A view widely held in the industry was that iiNet had been targeted because of its size - big enough to matter but not too big to tackle - rather than for any specific behaviour different from that of other ISPs.

The Federal Court has now instructed the film and television organisations to take a more reasonable approach to discovery in the case. They had initially refused to give any discovery to iiNet and have now been ordered to co-operate with iiNet in relation to 21 categories of discovery, many relating to how the industry monitors and polices allegations of copyright breaches overseas. The Court also required the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) to produce documents in relation to 19 categories of discovery.

This is iiNet's second 'win' in the case. A month ago the organisations were ordered by the court to withdraw a key element of their copyright claim against iiNet and pay iiNet's legal costs relating to that withdrawal.
iiNet CEO, Michael Malone, said he was frustrated that, "more than six months after launching court action, the industry organisations still appear to be on a fishing exercise and are still struggling to set out their claim...Surely if they are serious about the issue they would have no problem providing that information to us in the interests of addressing any issues they have in Australia. What have they got to hide?"

He added: "Here we have more than 20 of the world's largest film and television organisations saying copyright breaches are an international problem and that we, as a small Perth-based ISP, should do something about, it but they won't provide information on what they are doing elsewhere in the world to tackle the issue.

"We have always said that iiNet does not in any way support, or encourage, breaches of the law, including infringement of copyright. The law currently provides a process for the applicants to pursue individuals who they think are breaching copyright laws when accessing the Internet. If the film and television studios are serious about copyright infringement they can, and should use, this process."

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