In a setback for Hollywood, an Australian judge has ruled that an Internet Service Provider (ISP) is not liable for the illegal downloads of its customers.
The case was originally filed in 2008 by the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) on behalf of 34 movie studios, including Universal Pictures, Warner Bros, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, 20th Century Fox and Disney. The suit, as noted on the Sydney Morning Herald website, alleged that ISP iiNet, Australia's third-largest, was liable for authorizing copyright infringement on its network because it did nothing to warn or disconnect users downloading illegal goods, despite repeated notifications from the movie studios.
iiNet, for its part, argued that it was not required to act upon “mere allegations” of copyright infringement and that customers were innocent until proven guilty. It likened the lawsuit to suing an electric company for things people might use electricity for.
The conclusion of an eight-week long trial saw Federal Court Justice Dennis Cowdroy issue a ruling in iiNet’s favor, in which he stated that the ISP was a legitimate communications company that was neither intended nor designed to infringe copyright.
Justice Cowdroy continued:
iiNet is not responsible if an iiNet user uses that system to bring about copyright infringement ... the law recognises no positive obligation on any person to protect the copyright of another.
AFACT’s Executive Director Neil Gane indicated that the decision would be reviewed before a decision on an appeal was decided.
…we believe this decision was based on a technical finding centred on the court’s interpretation of how infringements occur and the ISP's ability to control them.
Expect an appeal.
Thanks Grant and CMiner!