Another saga that has been closely watched by the technology community for the last fourteen months has been the case between AFACT (Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft) and iiNet (a national ISP based in Perth).
In a nutshell, AFACT (comprising of the big six members of the MPAA in the US plus Village Roadshow, Seven Network and hangers-on) filed a suit against iiNet for failing to reprimand its customers for copyright infringements based upon allegations from AFACT.
The suit comprised three main components, specifically:
- iiNet had authorised the breaches,
- iiNet was liable for said breaches,
- whether or not iiNet was protected by safe harbour provisions within the Copyright Act, 1968.
“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.”
This judgement sets a precedent for Australia that will also have widespread effect for the rest of the world.
What will be interesting to see is whether or not AFACT will appeal the decision. From my point of view, AFACT would be like a dog with a bone who has a master that owns an abattoir. If AFACT doesn’t exhaust all avenues of appeal I would be very surprised to say the least.
The MPAA in the US have been relentless in their pursuit of individuals for ridiculous amounts of money and has been openly carefree about its perception by the public. I’m sure that similar actions will commence down under as an alternative measure once the appeals process for the current case has run its course.
The next test will be whether or not the account holder of a particular Internet connection can be held responsible for the activity on the connection if they themselves did not commit the offence. This will be particularly interesting in situations where poorly secured wireless networks are exploited for the purpose of copyright infringement and whether or not sufficient evidence can be found.
So whilst this chapter has been closed for the time being, the saga is far from over and will be something that would be worth close attention.