This is good news or bad news depending on your perspective and if you live in Australia: the Federal Court of Australia dismissed a case this week brought by the movie industry about the role of internet service providers in the fight against copyright infringement. This report on Ars Technica details the drama leading up to the court battle. Lawyers for industry argued that ISPs in the country must take action against file-sharers who are accused of infringement by copyright holders. The case was against ISP iiNet, and was an appeal of the original judgment in the matter, which also went against rightsholders. The appeal was heard by a three-judge panel.
In 2008, the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) hired a company to monitor BitTorrent networks for infringement. The company compiled a list of iiNet IP addresses sharing allegedly copyrighted films and then sent the list on to iiNet, with a demand that it take action against subscribers using those IP addresses.
Leroy Parkinson of iiNet responded by telling the company to promptly direct its allegations to ‘the appropriate authorities.’ He also made note of several entries that didn’t make a lot of sense that were included in the spreadsheet.
After several back-and-forth emails, Parkinson basically told AFACT direct his complaint to the proper authorities. Roadshow Films, whose movies were being shared, decided to sue iiNet on the grounds that the ISP was authorizing copyright infringement. After two hearings it seems the courts did not agree with its claims.
iiNet CEO Michael Malone said in a statement after the new ruling that the best defense against copyright infringement for movie companies is more legitimate outlets for content: "We urge the Australian film industry to address the growing demand for studio content to be delivered in a timely and cost effective manner to consumers and we remain eager to work with them to make this material available legitimately," he said.
Electronic Frontiers Australia congratulated iiNet and complimented the company for "putting up a strong defense against copyright owners in a context where—worldwide—Internet companies and legislators have buckled under industry pressure."
You can read an excellent blow-by-blow account of the ruling and the events that led to the court case at Ars Technica.