Music Studios Lose Copyright Case Against Australian Company
The Australian company iiNet has recently scored a landmark copyright victory over a group of music studios, which brought suit alleging copyright infringement. The music studio consortium was attempting to hold the Australian ISP responsible for illegal content downloading by its users. The Australian court dismissed an appeal from a lower court’s decision, holding that even though iiNet was dismissive of copyright infringement complaints that fact alone did not mean it was liable for actually encouraging infringement. The original suit against iiNet was filed by the consortium in 2008. The studio consortium, made up of such studios as Walt Disney Co., Paramount Pictures, 20th Century Fox and 30 other studios, can still appeal the decision to Australia’s High Court.
Had this appeal been successful, it would have set precedent in Australia that internet service providers can be held responsible for their customers’ downloading activities. A spokesperson from iiNet expressed relief over the verdict, reiterating that iiNet never encouraged its user to breach copyrights. Speaking on behalf of the studio consortium, the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) disagreed, claiming that iiNet had knowledge of tens of thousands of infringements made possible by the ISP. While there will undoubtedly be action taken by a higher court, as of now Australian ISPs will not be required to actively police their users.
This decision is consistent with how United States courts deal with ISPs and copyright infringement allegations. There is surely a benefit in maintaining consistency in copyright laws, especially in the expansive realm of the Internet. If certain countries mandate that ISPs actively police their users’ activity, companies in some countries could be put at an innovative disadvantage. Since copyright law is an area of law with global implications, it is necessary to provide certainty country by country.
For more on this story see “iiNet Wins Again: Australian Appeals Court Says ISP Not Responsible For Copyright Infringers” at http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110224/00490713240/iinet-wins-again-australian-appeals-court-says-isp-not-responsible-copyright-infringers.shtml