This morning, the High Court handed down the much awaited
decision in the appeal between Roadshow Films Pty Ltd & Ors and
In essence, Roadshow together with a number of film and
television companies which own copyright in film and television
programs (Appellants) alleged that iiNet, an
internet service provider (Respondent), authorised
infringement of the Appellants' copyright by failing to prevent
its customers from sharing the copyright works on the Internet
using the BitTorrent peer-to-peer file sharing system. The
Appellants argued that the Respondent had the power to prevent its
customers from infringing the Appellants' copyright by issuing
warnings and suspending or terminating customer accounts once the
Respondent received notices from the Australian Federation Against
Copyright Theft (AFACT) alerting it to the
At first instance and on appeal to the Full Court of the Federal
Court the Respondent was held not liable for authorising copyright
infringement. The Appellants sought leave to appeal to the High
In a unanimous decision, the High Court dismissed the appeal.
The High Court held the Respondent not liable for authorising
copyright infringement for the following reasons:
the Respondent had no direct technical power to prevent its
customers from using the peer-to-peer file sharing system (and thus
from infringing the Appellants' copyright), rather it only had
an indirect power to terminate the contractual relationship with
its customers; and
the information contained in the AFACT notices did not provide
the Respondent with a reasonable basis for threatening to suspend
or to terminate customer accounts.
A more detailed alert will be issued shortly analysing reasons
for the decision.
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