The Australian Internet industry has supported iiNet in its defence against legal action filed by the leading US media giants and the Seven Network, which experts say could force providers to police peer-to-peer traffic if the Federal Court rules in favour of the plaintiffs.
The court case, spearheaded by Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) which represents the media corporations, demands that iiNet eliminate the file sharing of copyright media over its network.
iiNet could be forced to ban peer-to-peer traffic over its network or throttle speeds, and issue the “thousands” of customers alleged to be in breach of copyright with infringement warnings.
ISPs aren't policemen
“The IIA has had a long standing view that intermediaries including ISPs, cannot be liable for the conduct of their users where they have limited knowledge or control over what those users are doing — this is a case in point,” Coroneos said, speaking broadly about ISP copyright enforcement.
“[Copyright enforcers] have unprecedented legal tools at their disposal [following amendments to the Copyright Act in 2005-2006], yet instead of using those tools to go after the people they alleged are infringing, there are calling upon the intermediaries to do their enforcement.
“They should go to the Federal Court, present their case, and seek orders for the ISP to disclose the relevant customer information to them and take action.”
Coroneos said AFACT should pursue the matter in court and not with iiNet because they only have allegations, not evidence. “To ask ISPs to threaten customers and interfere with the Internet experience, and place sanctions would only be appropriate with evidence,” he said.
Internode CEO Stephen Hackett said in an e-mail to iiNet managing director Michael Malone that the company should not be held responsible for policing network traffic.
“The industry remains of the view that ISPs aren't policemen,” Hackett said.
“The content industry should take legal action against end users if it believes they have broken the law. ISPs are like Australia Post: we just deliver it.”