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  • News, Telecommunications - Written by on Friday, April 13, 2012 12:59 - 15 Comments

    High Court iiTrial verdict set for 20 April

    news iiNet has revealed that Australia’s High Court will lay down its verdict in the national broadband provider’s high-profile legal battle with a coalition of film and TV studios next Friday 20 April at 10AM, in a move which will finally provide closure to the long-running online copyright infringement case.

    “iiNet Ltd has been advised by the High Court of Australia that the judgment in the appeal — Roadshow & Ors vs iiNet Ltd will be handed down at 10:00AM AEST on Friday, April 20, 2012,” iiNet said in a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange this morning. It added that its chief executive, Michael Malone (pictured, above), and chief regulatory officer, Steve Dalby, would hold a media conference immediately following the verdict, at 1PM AEST.

    A group of 34 parties, comprised of most major Australian and American film studios and led by umbrella organisation the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft, took iiNet to court in 2009 after claiming iiNet had “authorised” its users to download pirated movies and television over the Internet. After the original decision of not guilty made in February 2010 was appealed, the full Australian Federal Court ruled in February 2011 that iiNet was not responsible for the illegal downloading.

    However the parties against iiNet decided to attempt to appeal the decision yet again, lodging an application soon after on the 24th March 2011, with the High Court of Australia for a special leave to appeal grant. In August the High Court agreed to hear the case.

    iiNet CEO Michael Malone has consistently called on the industry to come to a “workable” solution to piracy problems instead of litigating the issue. iiNet itself provides access to film and TV content through a bundled IPTV set-top box developed by a partner company, FetchTV. “I know the Internet industry is eager to work with the film industry and copyright holders to develop a workable solution,” Malone said in August last year. “We remain committed to developing an industry solution that sees more content readily and cheaply available online as well as a sensible model for dealing with repeated copyright infringement activity.”

    However, AFACT and its member organisations haven’t been so keen. In July AFACT wrote to at least one local ISP requesting a meeting to discuss implementing an “automated processing system” for copyright infringement notices to be distributed to customers.

    It is believed that AFACT considers early judgements in its case against iiNet to have opened the door for it to legally approach Australian ISPs about online copyright infringement, provided it supplied the right level of detail about the alleged offences. In mid-2011, a number of ISPs have confirmed the organisation has approached them about the matter.

    Currently, different ISPs take different approaches to the issue of online piracy, with some committing to forward on copyright infringement notices to users, followed by potential disconnection of their service, and others either ignoring the letters or forwarding them to law enforcement authorities.

    iiNet and AFACT are also engaged in out of court talks regarding Internet piracy, with the Federal Attorney-General’s Department holding a series of meetings through late 2011 and early this year between iiNet, AFACT and other telcos, content owners and representative groups. However, consumer representatives have been explicitly barred from the talks, and the department has consistently declined — even through the Freedom of Information request process — requests by media outlets for more information about what is being discussed.

    The High Court’s decision — whichever way it goes — is viewed by many in the industry as a long-awaited landmark announcement which will guide the way ISPs and content owners deal with copyright infringement issues for the foreseeable future.

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    1. djos
      Posted 13/04/2012 at 1:34 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I really hope the Copyright trolls get put back in their box! They act like a bunch of corporate criminals and only have themselves to blame for average Joe pirating “their” content!

    2. Gav
      Posted 13/04/2012 at 3:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Good news is that I think the MPAA/RIAA are starting to see the light. Reports elsewhere around are saying that they see innovation as the best way forwards.

      I’m not necessarily in favor of piracy personally, but there are two aspects to how this is done that plain rub me the wrong way. Firstly, the presumption of guilt, and secondly the breaches of privacy being commited by a private company, for their own benefit.

      Those 2 aspects alone make me vocal on the issue, specifically the second point regarding a biased PRIVATE organisation policing the issue. Thats plain wrong in any language.

      Then there is the draconian penalties they expect, the fact they wont budge their business model to make allowances for the new technology, and finally, when there ARE legal alternatives, how they then impose ridiculous costs in taking up those options.

      I can see how someone would download a movie to watch before forking out up to $60 as well. Scoff at the price, go look at what they are charging for 3D versions of the latest movies.

      • Bourkie
        Posted 13/04/2012 at 11:07 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Gav, they have been charging $55-$60 for Blu-ray Discs ever since 2007 (almost 5 years now)!

        This is the part that pisses me off the most – Hollywood persists with its criminal acts of geographical market segmentation (price-fixing), yet has the hypocrisy to complain when individuals break the law on a much smaller scale! Pot Kettle Black much?!

        You wouldn’t steal a car.
        You wouldn’t steal a handbag.
        You wouldn’t steal a television.

        Region coding is stealing from consumers!

        Don’t buy into movie studio piracy!

    3. Duke
      Posted 13/04/2012 at 3:14 pm | Permalink | Reply

      It all seems a little passe now, irrespective of the outcome. Win or lose, with our federal regime acting like an extra (and rather insignificant) supplicant state of Washington DC Rights Inc (aka the US Govt) the flood of alternative options for gleefully selling out Oz citizens as yankee corporate fodder multiplies almost daily. If not through the odious AFACT cadres, then ACTA, TPP, or the new ‘treaty’ that simply defies belief, CISPA, will sooner or later be covertly ratified and effectively wipe out any local legal decision. When it happens, and it will happen, it will be difficult to attribute to any single factor, but greed, stupidity, fear and moral vapidity are all in there… and they all belong to our politicians, who at this period of our history are the greatest combined gaggle of incompetent nonentities to have ever disgraced our halls of power.

      Have a nice day MPAA, and enjoy remotely running this pile of minerals for the forseable future…

    4. PeterA
      Posted 13/04/2012 at 3:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I predict yet another soft response from the courts.

      Generally in support of iiNet but with so much wiggle room you could drive a bus through it.

      Only way to resolve the whole thing will be another court case with less ambiguous evidence, and or law reform.

      Neither prospect is particularly promising. (given the governments general attitude is: “Those American companies have it about right, and if the courts don’t agree we might have to change the law.”)

    5. pirate pete
      Posted 13/04/2012 at 3:50 pm | Permalink | Reply

      i think it will be close call in favour iinet
      and you watch afact will go screaming a miss trial or some bs about wrong evidence or some thing like that
      they wont stop here they will then lobby mthe govenment or start going after people direct
      and that will cost them heaps of money
      they wont chase anyone because of the bad publicity it will generate
      if they get it wrong they only need to get one wrong for them to have their hide nail to a wall and skined

    6. markf
      Posted 14/04/2012 at 10:12 am | Permalink | Reply

      Make the content accessible, affordable and within a timeframe close to what the US get and there wouldn’t be too many problems with piracy. But hey what do i know.

      • djos
        Posted 14/04/2012 at 10:16 am | Permalink | Reply

        Indeed, and stop treating your PAYING customers like criminals – downloading a BluRay rip from the net should not provide a better customer experience than watching the actual BluRay disc but it does and that is seriously messed up!!!!


        • Johnny
          Posted 15/04/2012 at 10:07 am | Permalink | Reply

          It’s a better customer experience (pirating films) due to the fact that it’s quick and FREE.

          I personally use netflix along with a DNS service to enable access to it (it’s restricted to certain countries).

          It’s fantastic for like $8 a month I just stream so many movies and TV shows and I can select the quality if i want to let it buffer i can select and watch the highest quality (which is usually full HD).

          Quickflix, yeah no thanks, don’t even try to imitate netflix, you suck, step in the right direction, but a waste of money compared to netflix.

      • djos
        Posted 14/04/2012 at 10:18 am | Permalink | Reply

        PS. I have friends that have built multi-Terabyte video storage systems and rip all their DVD & BluRay Discs straight away and never watch from the physical discs because the experience is so poor!!

        • Bourke
          Posted 14/04/2012 at 11:04 am | Permalink | Reply

          Well over half the price of physical media is spent on the shipping, shelf space, shop staff wages, and retail profit margin. Make high definition downloads half the price of physical media and Hollywood will still make fortunes… The music industry learnt this the hard way 10 years ago – why is the MPAA still living in the last millennium?!

    7. Bourke
      Posted 14/04/2012 at 5:26 pm | Permalink | Reply

      They can own what they like… just as long as they’re not tossers about it!

    8. Nate
      Posted 14/04/2012 at 10:59 pm | Permalink | Reply

      It’s irrelevant. In February, Obama authorized the CIA to police America’s copyright regime. Crazy, but true. Check John Perry Barlow’s Twitter feed today for the details.

    9. mike
      Posted 15/04/2012 at 1:13 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Hope this doesn’t pass. I just got on the NBN.. 1TB and 100Mbit. on a 24 month contract. if they start stopping piracy what am i going to do with all that speed and data?

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