Some time ago, we reported on the case of Roadshow Films Pty
Ltd v iiNet Ltd in which a number of film production companies
from Australia and the US were taking iiNet to Court claiming that
the ISP had infringed copyright by allowing its customers to
illegally download films. The case caused quite a stir, and raised
the serious issue of liability for ISPs around the country.
Interestingly, iiNet won the initial Federal Court case, and the
appeal, but Roadshow and the other production companies sought
leave to appeal to the High Court of Australia in proceedings that
commenced 24 March this year.
The wait for an outcome is finally over... and iiNet was once
again successful in defending its position.
The High Court has found that iiNet did
not authorise its customers to breach
copyright when they downloaded copyright material like movies and
The Final Decision
In finalising the matter, on the 20 April 2012 the High Court of
Australia unanimously held that:
iiNet had no involvement with the file-sharing system
(i.e.BitTorrent) that enabled customers to download copyright
material and had no power to control or change any part of it;
iiNet could only indirectly prevent primary infringements by
terminating customers' contracts after being served an
infringement notice issued by the copyright owners that contained
sufficient evidence to prove infringement;
the information in the infringement notices that had been
received from AFACT (the Australian Federation Against Copyright
Theft) was not enough of a basis for iiNet to send notices to
customers warning them of the suspension or termination of their
iiNet's inactivity after receiving these notices did not
mean that iiNet authorised the infringing activity.
For more information on the background to this long awaited
click here to review our previous article. The Future
There is no doubt that this decision was a big win for ISP's
all over the country. But, this doesn't necessarily mean the
end of the story, as AFACT may tweak and refine the notices issued
to ISP's in the future.
However, right now, the High Court decision means that ISP's
have no direct technical power to prevent their customers from
using the BitTorrent file sharing system.
Many in the field have repeatedly argued that if licensed
digital content were cheaper and more freely available, this may
resolve the copyright issues of production companies and the like.
In fact, iiNet Chief Executive Michael Malone, in his comments
following the Court's decision noted that "Increasing the
availability of licensed digital content is the best, most
practical approach to meet consumer demand and protect
By having a portal within which to achieve this outcome,
production companies, and the fans, will all no doubt be
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