The Federal Court has this morning ruled in favour of Australian ISP iiNet in a copyright case launched by the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT).
The copyright case against the ISP was filed two years ago by Roadshow Films, Twentieth Century Fox, Buena Vista, Warner Brothers, Universal Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, Disney, NBC Studios, as well as the Seven Network.
In a 200-page judgment read this morning, Justice Cowdroy said that iiNet has merely provided an internet service to its users and is not the means to infringement.
“While I find that iiNet had knowledge of infringements occurring, and did not act to stop them, such findings do not necessitate a finding of authorisation. I find that iiNet did not authorise the infringements of copyright of the iiNet users,” says Cowdroy.
“iiNet has no control over the BitTorrent system and is not responsible for the operation of the BitTorrent system… I find that iiNet simply cannot be seen as sanctioning, approving or countenancing copyright infringement. The requisite element of favouring infringement on the evidence simply does not exist. The evidence establishes that iiNet has done no more than to provide an internet service to its users. This can be clearly contrasted with the respondents in the Cooper and Kazaa proceedings, in which the respondents intended copyright infringements to occur, and in circumstances where the website and software respectively were deliberately structured to achieve this result.”
“In summary, in this proceeding, the key question is: Did iiNet authorise copyright infringement? The Court answers such question in the negative for three reasons: first because the copyright infringements occurred directly as a result of the use of the BitTorrent system, not the use of the internet, and the respondent did not create and does not control the BitTorrent system; second because the respondent did not have a relevant power to prevent those infringements occurring; and third because the respondent did not sanction, approve or countenance copyright infringement,” concluded Cowdroy.
Justice Cowdroy has also ordered AFACT to pay iiNet’s legal cost.
iiNet has issued this statement to the press entitled: Federal Court Judgment – Roadshow Films Pty Ltd & Ors v iiNet Ltd
iiNet welcomes the Federal Court’s judgment.
We have never supported or encouraged breaches of the law, including infringement of the Copy Right Act of the Telecommunications Act. Today’s judgment is a vindication of that and the allegations against us have been proven to be unfounded.
iiNet has always been, and will continue to be, a good corporate citizen and an even better copyright citizen.
From our perspective today marks the end of the matter and we will continue get on with the business. We will continue to provide Australians with the access to fast and cheap broadband with innovative new services and products.
While this case has been important, not just for iiNet, but the entire internet industry, it has not distracted us from our core business.
In relation to copyright holders, we conclude by again saying we do not, and never have supported, encouraged or authorised illegal sharing or downloading of files in breach of the copyright laws.
We are eager to engage with the film industry and copyright holders to make this material legitimately available.
Finally, we thank all those who have support us through this process, the iiNet staff, our loyal customers and investors, the internet industry and others and notably our legal team who worked tirelessly to achieve this important result today.
More to follow.