Pirate Party, EFA hail ‘common sense’ victory


The Pirate Party Australia has welcomed iiNet’s internet piracy victory over a coalition of film and TV studios, describing it as “a victory for common sense”, while civil liberties group Electronic Frontiers Australia said sanity had prevailed.

Justice Cowdroy today handed iiNet a sound victory in the Australian ISP’s long-running battle against a coalition of film and television studios, finding that iiNet did not authorise copyright infringement carried out by its customers using the BitTorrent file-sharing platform.

“This is a good decision by Justice Cowdroy, and reflects that there is no legal basis or obligation for any ISP to act in the interest of copyright holders, or to expect that they should disconnect any entity upon allegation of infringement without judicial oversight and due process,” said Pirate Party Australia secretary Rodney Serkowkski.

In a statement, Serkowski said ISPs should be considered similar to a postal service — the data they carried should be considered private.

In a statement labelled “sanity prevails”
, EFA chair Nic Suzor wrote that the verdict provided important certainty for ISPs in Australia that the provision of internet access was not the means to infringe copyright.

“It also seems that more generally, this has important ramifications for innovation in Australia; in contrast with Kazaa, if you provide facilities that assist in infringement, but do not have control and do not act in bad faith, you will not be liable for secondary copyright infringement,” Suzor wrote, noting the decision sounded like it was consistent with the theory of secondary copyright liability developed in the US case of Sony vs Universal.

“The lack of control over the system means that iiNet has no legal responsibility over its users, despite knowledge that some users are obviously infringing copyright,” he said.

However both the Pirate Party and the EFA warned of future action in the field. “Expect an appeal,” wrote Suzor.

And the Pirate Party pointed out that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade was currently engaged in negotiations over the international Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which could result in ‘three strikes’ regulation towards those who infringe copyright online.

The party’s statement said it rejected any three strikes rule, saying it was unacceptable to disconnect entire households from the internet upon accusations from the content industry.

Image credit: Pirate Party Australia