Australian Film Industry Loses iiNet Pirated Movie Copyright Case
While international laws against Internet copyright infringement are still being negotiated, an Australian court case has set an important legal precedent.
The Australian film and television industry -Village Roadshow, Universal Pictures, Warner Bros, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, 20th Century Fox, Disney and the Seven Network - lost a case against iiNet whose customers downloaded their pirated movies and television programs.
Tracking Internet Pirates on iiNet
The legal action followed a 5-month investigation by the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft. The companies claimed iiNet infringed copyright by failing to stop users engaging in illegal file sharing.
The entertainment companies compiled their evidence by hiring 2 investigators to subscribe to iiNet and then begin trading files using different BitTorrent networks. They kept track of what movies and TV shows they were sharing, when they downloaded them, and the ID numbers of the computers they were sharing these files with.
Every week the entertainment companies sent that data to iiNet and asked that iiNet then disconnect the users who had been sharing the files illegally, but they said iiNet failed to act.
The companies claimed iiNet was refusing to enforce its own user agreement, in which users are asked to agree not to download files or anything illegally.
The movie houses said iiNet did not do anything to stop its customers from illegally sharing movies and TV programs. But iiNet said privacy and freedom of speech laws would have been breached if the companies' demands were met.
Privacy & Freedom of Speech Laws Prevent Copyright Protection?
But iiNet successfully argued that the requests to disconnect users were unreasonable.The ISP's barrister said that in one week alone iiNet received more than 3,000 pages of allegations of copyright violations by iiNet customers.
"If all the notices iiNet received from film studios over a five-month period were printed it would take 180 large folders and more than 12 trolleys to bring them into the court," Richard Cobden said. "No-one can seriously be expected to respond to all these."
Justice Dennis Cowdroy said, "It is impossible to conclude that iiNet has authorised copyright infringement ... (it) did not have relevant power to prevent infringements occurring," he said.The judge ordered the studios to pay the court costs.
Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement Petitioned
In December 2009, a worldwide coalition of non-governmental organizations, consumers unions and online service providers associations published an open letter to the European Parliament regarding the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) currently under negotiation.
They urged the Parliament to call on European negotiators to establish transparency in the negotiation process and publish the draft agreement. The content of the draft agreement has been kept secret for more than 18 months, although some details about the proposals recently leaked to the public.
Worldwide Coalition Pressures EU
The coalition, which includes Consumers International, EDRi, the Free Software Foundation (FSF), the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), ASIC , and civil liberties organizations from all around Europe, have come together to exert pressure on the the European Parliament to protect fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens in Europe and around the world.
The letter is still open for signature by other organizations. The negotiation process itself raises important questions of transparency and due democratic process, given that t
More worrying still, while the European Parliament has been denied access to the documents, US industry has been granted access to them, albeit only after signing non-disclosure agreements.