Updated: AFACT appeals: iiNet case judgement a “threat to Australia’s digital economy”

Updated: AFACT appeals: iiNet case judgement a “threat to Australia’s digital economy”

Copyright group claims to have 15 grounds for appeal

The Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) has lodged an appeal on the judgment made in its copyright court case against Perth-based ISP, iiNet.

On February 4, the case’s presiding judge, Justice Cowdroy, dismissed the case launched by AFACT, which accused iiNet of authorising movie piracy by not acting on known illegal downloading activities by the ISP’s users. Justice Cowdroy ordered AFACT to cover iiNet’s legal cost.

The copyright advocacy group filed a notice of motion in a bid to reduce the payout to iiNet but has now officially made a stance against the court decision.

According to an AFACT statement, the judgment “left an unworkable online environment for content creators and content providers and represents a serious threat to Australia’s digital economy”. It maintained iiNet neglected to act on copyright infringements on the ISP’s network despite having the contractual and technical ability to do so.

AFACT executive director, Neil Gane, said in the statement the judgment was contrary to existing copyright laws. He also claimed the ruling gave ISPs all the protection without any of the responsibilities.

“By allowing Internet companies like iiNet to turn a blind eye to copyright theft, the decision harms not just the studios that produce and distribute movies, but also Australia’s creative community and all those whose livelihoods depend on a vibrant entertainment industry,” he said.

iiNet responded to the appeal with disappointment and claimed AFACT's decision was "unproductive".

"The legal case has not stopped one illegal download and further legal appeals will not stop piracy," iiNet CEO, Michael Malone, said in a statement. "The studios themselves admitted during the court hearings that making content freely and cheaply available online was an effective way to combat piracy."

"People are crying out to access the studios materials, so much so some are prepared to steal it."

Malone argued there were more effective ways to fight piracy than with litigation. iiNet had previously cited the success of its online content distribution portal Freezone, which allows the its users to download legal content - including movies - as an example of how copyright holders and ISPs can work together.

The notice of appeal, which contains 15 grounds pertaining to the judgment, is expected to be heard later this year. The notice of motion relating to the potential payout to iiNet will be heard in May.

AFACT represents 34 movie studio applicants in this case.

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Tags Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT)Justice Cowdroyii Net


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