Australian Music Biz Closely Following Copyright Infringement Case
Australian Music Biz Closely Following Copyright Infringement Case

A landmark Australian copyright case pitting the movie industry against iiNet Internet service provider took another twist as the case moves to the country's High Court, the final court of appeal. Today, the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) said it would seek special leave to the High Court in a bid to overturn the Federal Court ruling.

The Federal Court of Australia earlier rejected an appeal by AFACT in its claim that iiNet had committed copyright infringement.

The music industry is closely following this copyright infringement case, as is the national communications minister Stephen Conroy. Many believe the outcome of this trial could shape the country's stance on "three-strikes" anti-piracy legislation.

AFACT represents 34 Australian and U.S. movie companies and Sydney-based broadcaster Seven Network. The industry group launched its case in November 2008 arguing that iiNet had failed to take adequate steps to prevent known repeat copyright breaches by users on its network.

Sydney's Federal Court, however, ruled in February 2010 that iiNet should bear no liability for third parties' copyright-infringement. AFACT subsequently appealed the decision in the Federal Court of Australia. The appeal was rejected last month, by a 2-1 majority decision.

"The Full Federal Court unanimously found that iiNet had the power to prevent the infringements of its users from occurring and that there were reasonable steps it could have taken, including issuing warnings," AFACT Executive Director Neil Gane said today.

"However two judges of the Full Court went on to find that iiNet had not authorized the infringements of its users and that is what we are appealing," he added. "We say they did not apply the legal test for authorization correctly."

Commenting after today's challenge, iiNet CEO Michael Malone declared that the two-year case had failed to curb illegal downloading, and appealed for a more practical licensing framework. "It's time for the film industry and copyright holders to work with the industry to make their content legitimately available," he said.