How Hollywood Targeted iiNet Over Telstra In Copyright Battle

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Wikileaks documents have revealed how Sony, Paramount and 20th Century Fox chose to pursue Perth based iiNet over big players Telstra or Optus in its bid to force ISP’s to block illegals downloads.

Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft Group, originally brought the action in 2008 against iiNet on behalf of some of the biggest Hollywood movie houses including Village Roadshow, Universal Pictures, Warner Bros, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, 20th Century Fox and Disney, as well as the Seven Network, in a bid to prevent ‘illegal’ movies and downloads being transmitted through its broadband network. 
However, iiNet always argued another court case will not be enough to stop such downloads and called for content to be made legit. 
Just released Wikileaks documents from the US Embassy in Canberra now reveal how Hollywood’s major movie houses sought to avoid a clash with “big guns” Telstra BigPond, opting for a smaller ISP ‘battler’ with far less clout, The Australian reports. 
“We will monitor this case as it unfolds, for its intellectual property rights implications and also to see whether the ‘AFACT vs the local ISP’ featured attraction spawns a ‘giant American bullies vs little Aussie battlers’ sequel,” the private document states. 
Telstra was described in the official cables as ” the still dominant player in telephony and internet, and a company with the financial resources and demonstrated willingness to fight hard and dirty, in court and out”. 
The cable was sent by US Ambassador Robert McCallum, a mere ten days after after the case was originally filed in November 2008. 
 In February this year, Federal Court judge Justice Denis Cowdroy recommended the application be dismissed and AFACT to pay the court costs, finding iiNet not responsible for the infringements of its users or for what customers send over the internet, upholding a judgement made in 2010. 
The ruling was following an appeal by AFACT against the earlier landmark decision. 

 
However, the movie houses, fronted by AFACT,has now been granted special leave to appeal the decision again by the courts, due to kick off on September 9th 2011 in Sydney courts. 
The prolonged case is part of a larger effort by content houses to establish a legal precedent globally that would prevent large ISPs in Australia and worldwide from openly allowing online customers access movies and other entertainment material, arguing is essentially illegal. 
“The hope for AFACT and the big studios was that a favourable decision would have established an international precedent that could have forced ISPs to tightly police the activities of their customers,” another cable said following the 2010 ruling.

“The studios must now look for other ways to protect their commercial interests. AFACT will likely increase its lobbying of the Australian government for legislative changes.”
The Americans also anticipated illegal downloads would only get worse following the roll out of the NBN, “as the speeds at which copyright theft can take place will literally multiply.”
The documents also reveals AFACT was working directly for Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Motion Picture Association (MPA), who did not want the direct asociation to be publicly known. 
 
Despite the lead role of AFACT and the inclusion of Australian companies Roadshow and Seven, this is an MPAA/American studios production,” the leaks show.
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