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Australian ISP iiNet could still lose their landmark case up against the giants of the movie industry, despite a favourable decision in an Australian court earlier today.

In a landmark ruling, Federal Court judge Justice Dennis Cowdroy, today found iiNet was not responsible for the infringements of its users and that they should not be held responsible for what their users send over the internet. 

“It is impossible to conclude that iiNet has authorised copyright infringement. (it) did not have relevant power to prevent infringements occurring,” Justice Cowdroy said in his judgment.

Justice Cowdroy recommended the application be dismissed and that AFACT pay the court costs.

Insiders are saying that the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft Group, who bought the action against iiNet on behalf of some of the biggest of Hollywood studios including Village Roadshow, Universal Pictures, Warner Bros, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, 20th Century Fox and Disney, as well as the Seven Network had had already decided prior to today that if they lost the case that they would urge their legal team to find a way to appeal.

If this appeal is granted the issue could end up in the High Court in a similar situation to the recent IceTV Vs Channel Nine case.

In that copyright action Ice TV won the first case in the NSW Supreme Court an appeal was lodged which they lost. The case was then taken to the Australian High Court in Canberra where 6 judges ruled in IceTV’s favour.

Colin O’Brien the CEO of IceTV said “I doubt that the iiNet case is over. I believe that there will be an appeal and this case and could go on for another 12 months. This will result in a lot of uncertainty in the content market in Australia which is already suffering from a lack of content from major studios”.

For several years, content providers such as movie and TV studios have tried to control the distribution of content over the internet and after failing to control consumers they decided in early 2008b to try and control the carrier of the content with an action bought against small Australian ISP iiNet.

 

The action which was funded by AFACT members was bought in an effort to establish a ruling that would prevent large ISP’s such as BigPond and Optus from openly allowing their customers to transmit from one point to another point content such as music or movies which AFACT members deemed as being illegal and unpaid downloads.

 Today the consortium of content providers, lost their case with Justice Cowdroy, ruling that all iiNet did was to provide an Internet service for consumer and that they should not be held responsible for the carriage of copyrighted content.

The consortium deliberately and some say with malice, chose to take on iiNet and not the likes of BigPond or Optus because iiNet was small and would struggle to fund their legal team.

 If AFACT had won, providers would most likely have been forced to penalise or disconnect users who illegally downloaded copyrighted material such as movies and songs.

Justice Cowdroy recommended the application be dismissed and that AFACT pay the court costs.

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