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iiNet document request rejected, ordered to surrender customer information

iiNet document request rejected, ordered to surrender customer information

The Federal Court has thrown out the ISPs document discovery request and ordered the company to hand over information on 20 customers

The Federal Court has tossed out Internet service provider (ISP), iiNet’s document discovery request in an ongoing copyright case against the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT). It also ordered the company to surrender a sample of 20 accounts.

Representing different movie studios, the industry body, AFACT, lodged a copyright infringement case against the ISP last November. It claimed the service provider allowed subscribers to pirate films through Bit Torrent and peer-to-peer (P2P) networks.

This new decision has levelled the playing field since iiNet laid claim to a small victory when AFACT was forced to drop a portion of their case last month.

At the last directions motion hearing, the Court rejected the company’s attempt to access documents from overseas jurisdictions in relation to anti-piracy actions against ISPs worldwide after objections from AFACT.

According to a press statement from AFACT, the Court deemed that only documents pertinent to the plaintiff and defendant’s activities with ISP’s in Australia, and iiNet’s subscribers’ information are required.

iiNet chief regulatory officer, Steve Dalby, questioned the reason why AFACT continuously opposed the company’s requests and is suspicious the industry body has something to hide.

“They are suing us without giving us any detailed description of what we have done or haven’t done,” he said. “We wanted the information to drill down specifically what they think we should have done to prevent what they claim are illegal activities by our customers.

“Why don’t they want us to see what arrangements they have in place to prevent piracy in other parts of the world?”

The Court did, however, grant the ISP discovery request related to local cases and has ordered AFACT to collaborate with iiNet in relation to 21 categories of discovery and produce documents from a further 19.

The Court also compelled the ISP to hand over details of 20 accounts, drawn from certain IP addresses, specified by the plaintiff. Only details of Internet access will be provided and excludes personal information.

In a press statement, AFACT said this information will be more than sufficient to illustrate the infringing behaviour of the company’s client base.

The statement also said iiNet is required to pay the cost of iiNet’s application to withdraw certain admissions made previously in the case. Dalby accused AFACT of giving this incident a “surprising little twist” since the only admissions of piracy made involved two AFACT investigators who posed as customers.

An AFACT spokesperson was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.

The trial is set to commence in October.


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