A damaging blow has been dealt to the giants of the film industry in the High Court today after it decided to dismiss their copyright infringement appeal case against internet service provider (ISP) iiNet in a landmark ruling.
The High Court’s five judges unanimously dismissed the appeal. In a summary the court observed that iiNet “had no direct technical power” to prevent its customers from illegally downloading pirated content using BitTorrent, a popular protocol used to share files online.
But copyright law experts say the case is not the end of the story as more ISPs could be targeted in future and pressure will remain on internet providers to do something about piracy on their networks. The Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT), which has been representing the studios in media commentary and in court, is already pressuring the government to change copyright laws to crack down on piracy.
Today, the court said iiNet’s power to prevent customers from pirating movies and TV shows “was limited to an indirect power to terminate its contractual relationship with its customers”.
Further, the High Court said that infringement notices sent by the film industry to iiNet did not provide the ISP “with a reasonable basis for sending warning notices to individual customers containing threats to suspend or terminate those customers”.