Updated: iiNet unperturbed by AFACT grilling

CEO Michael Malone cross-examined yesterday and takes the stand again today.

iiNet CEO, Michael Malone, is taking the stand again after a full day’s questioning by legal counsel for the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT), yesterday.

The two parties are embroiled in a landmark copyright case, with AFACT, representing a number of movie studios, suing iiNet over copyright infringements on its network. The ISP has been accused of authorising and even encouraging law breakers by ignoring “rampant” illegal downloading activities on its network through BitTorrent clients.

“We are still comfortable and confident in our position and confident in our defence and, by the end of this case, these allegations [by AFACT] will be seen as unfounded,” an iiNet spokesperson told ARN

On day 11 of the trial, Malone was subjected to lengthy questioning in regards to Westnet’s policy of forwarding AFACT’s infringement notices automatically to relevant customers.

iiNet acquired the latter ISP in May 2008 and the policy was abandoned five months later. Malone had said previously that he was not aware of the system until October last year.

AFACT barrister, Tony Bannon, highlighted that Westnet had been under iiNet ownership for five months before the system was scrapped and that Malone would have know the infringement notice policy long before that time.

Bannon accused Malone of submitting misleading affidavits by not mentioned the aforementioned policy, to which the iiNet CEO denied.

Evidence was also presented in Court that revealed iiNet had forwarded AFACT’s infringement notices to the WA police on two occasions. The plaintiff claimed this was in direct violation of the Telecommunications Act, which stipulates information can only be passed on with a warrant; a defence iiNet has used to justify not forwarding personal customer details to AFACT.

iiNet refuted this allegation and denied any wrong doing on its part.

“The information iiNet passed on was not information we collected and gathered; it was gathered by AFACT itself,” the iiNet spokesperson said. “AFACT – an outside party - wanted us to hand over information our customers provided to iiNet.

“Passing on correspondence to the police for investigation is not just passing it on to any Joe Blow. It was allegation an illegality had occurred so we passed it on.”

Contrary to iiNet's claim, AFACT said it had not pressured the ISP to surrender customer information.

"The facts are AFACT never asked iiNet to hand over any information to us," an AFACT spokesperson said. "We simply asked that iiNet prevent further copyright infringement on its network."

The case continues. For a detailed timeline of the trial, click here.

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