Investigators tracked nearly 100,000 instances of iiNet customers sharing files illegally during a 59-week period, prosecutors told the Federal Court in Sydney today as the Internet Service Provider's copyright trial finally got underway.

A coalition of film and TV companies under the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) banner is taking on the Perth-based iiNet in an anticipated case which is expected to seriously test Australia's copyright law in the digital age.

The studios launched legal action claiming the ISP did not take reasonable steps to disconnect users who were illegally-sharing film and TV content using BitTorrent software on its networks.

The entertainment companies' legal representative Tony Bannon SC and his legal team presented evidence that its investigators tracked 94,942 instances of unauthorised file-sharing, with titles such as "Hancock," "Batman Begins," and "The Dark Knight" changing hands via its network. The court heard that the film "Wanted" saw the heaviest traffic, with more than 1,000 instances of it on iiNet's pipeline.

When it mounts its defense, iiNet will argue that it hasn't authorized illegal file-sharing, and that monitoring its consumers' activity would breach privacy laws.

On the eve of the copyright trial, iiNet managing director Michael Malone said he was "very confident" that the company would be vindicated and that the claims would be dismissed as "as unfounded, untrue and unproven."

"I am proud of iiNet's long and strong record of being a good corporate citizen and an even better 'copyright citizen'," Malone said, adding, "I welcome the commencement of the Court proceedings and look forward to clearing our name."

The legal action was filed last November by Village Roadshow, Universal Pictures, Warner Bros Entertainment, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Disney Enterprises, Inc. and the Seven Network, the Australian licensee of some of the infringed works. Australia's music industry, however, is watching from the sidelines.

The copyright case is expected to run until mid-November.