The court stoush between iiNet and AFACT may provide the basis for new legislation addressing online copyright issues, Broadband and Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy has revealed.
Speaking to ARN at the launch of NICTA’s new laboratory at the Australian Technology Park, Senator Conroy labelled the legal brawl an “international groundbreaking case” and said the Government had closely followed the drama unfold in court.
“We are just waiting to see the outcome of the case,” he said. “The court case may settle this issue… It may show to the world ISPs have got the responsibility to work with copyright owners to work out a solution or to monetise a solution.”
Representing a number of high-profile Hollywood movie studios, Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) took legal action against the Perth-based ISP, claiming the company turned a blind eye to piracy by subscribers on its network and therefore authorised illegal activity. Federal Court proceedings for the case began on October 6 and concluded on November 26. A verdict is not expected until early to mid next year.
Senator Conroy did not rule out legislation being introduced.
“It will be a very fascinating decision and [it has been] a fascinating case to watch and a lot of interesting evidence has been tendered. We are waiting for the outcome of that before we make any calls about whether we need new legislation or not,” he said.
With the National Broadband Network (NBN) promising Internet speeds of up to 100Mbps across Australia, piracy may well become a much bigger problem and lead to more copyright disputes from content owners.
Industry analysts have called for swift action from the Government to tackle the issue.
“The Federal Government should not wait for a verdict in the AFACT legal action to provide a ‘resolution’ to the problem,” RMIT general counsel, John Lambrick, said in a statement. “Regardless of the outcome of the case, the Federal Government should take action to legislate an effective solution that will facilitate downloader accountability and protect ISPs and other providers of communication infrastructure from liability.”