Friday, May 18, 2012


Another day, another battle fought and decided over piracy:

This time, 'iiNet' an Australian Internet Service Provider (ISP), has won a battle in the highest court in Australia (the unimaginatively named High Court of Australia) against the Australian Federation against Copyright Theft (AFACT).

AFACT was attempting to have iiNet held responsible for the copyright breaching behaviour of their customers. AFACT argued that, given iiNet knew that a large volume of the traffic on their service was file sharing (a major source of piracy) via Bit Torrent, they were partially responsible for the illegal activities.

The High Court disagreed.

The court ruled that the ISP cannot be held responsible for the behaviour of a customer, much like a gun maker cannot be held responsible for the activity of a mass murderer.

Interestingly, the court did say that the ISP's power was "limited to terminating contractual relationships with customers engaging in file sharing and piracy."

This would leave the door open to the "three strikes of pirating and your service is terminated" rules we have seen elsewhere in the world. I, and others, have been predicting the global spread of this model for a while:

Could this single sentence in a high court decision be the tipping point that brings the "three strikes" framework here?

Time will tell.

In the mean time, the head of AFACT released a statement saying that their loss in this court case demonstrated that legislative change is needed. AFACT's argument is that they have fought in the courts as far as they can, so Australian copyright laws will have to change for justice to be done.

Otherwise, AFACT says, Australia's copyright protections will fall even further behind the rest of the world.

Sounds like fighting words to me.

The battle has been decided, but the war still rages on.

- - - - - - - - -