iiTrial spurs ISP industry piracy code


The organisation representing Australia’s internet industry today revealed it would “immediately” start working on a new industry code of practice to detail ISPs and hosting providers’ rights and obligations when dealing with alleged copyright infringements by their users, in the wake of an interim result in copyright holders’ high-profile legal action against iiNet.

In late February, the Federal Court dismissed an appeal by the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft following its loss against iiNet in a high-profile copyright infringement and internet content piracy case decided early in 2010, handing a second victory to the ISP in its battle against the organisation and its movie studio backers. Pictured above is iiNet CEO Michael Malone after the trial.

Onlookers now expect the case to be appealed to a higher authority — Australia’s High Court, but the Internet Industry Association today said it would take action on the issue in the meantime. “Having closely reviewed the recent decision of the Full Federal Court, we’ve concluded it’s both necessary and appropriate to develop a code of practice to give a range of internet intermediaries greater certainty around their legal rights and obligations,” said outgoing IIA chief executive Peter Coroneos in a statement this morning.

Some aspects of the verdict have prompted industry observers to suggest that ISPs change their standard agreements with customers, to more thoroughly deal with those who illegally download copyrighted material.

“The iiNet case has provided us with welcome guidance on where responsibilities should begin and end, but falls short in defining reasonable steps intermediaries should take in responding to allegations of infringement by their users,” added Coroneos. “The Code will address this gap.”

The IIA will also renew its lobbying efforts to have safe harbour provisions of the Federal copyright legislation extended to cover other internet-focused companies beyond those providing telecommunciations services.

“The 2005 (US/Australia Free Trade Agreement) amendments to the Actfailed to deliver Australia equivalent protections that exist under US law regarding who is eligible for safe harbour protection. Here, it is only carriage service providers such as ISPs who qualify,” said Coroneos. “This has left search providers, social network media, universities, auction sites, hosting and cloud services, corporate networks and others exposed to potential liability for the infringing acts of their users.”

In response to the IIA’s initiative, AFACT this afternoon issued a statement noting that “the IIA, on behalf of its members, has finally recognised that ISPs must play a role in preventing online copyright infringement”.

“We said last week following the judgement of the Full Federal Court that its decision provided a roadmap for ISPs to deal with repeat infringers on their network,” they added. “The IIA have agreed that the judgement offers guidance.”

However, the IIA added in its statement that it wasn’t only ISPs who should re-examine their approaches following the conclusion of the appeal, noting that new business models were needed to give Australians legal acces to the content which they were pirating.

“Market failure remains a core contributor to the infringement problem,” he said.

“If users have access to more and better content, when, where and in the form they choose to consume it, and at a realistic price, we’re quite sure the motivation for infringement will decline. We certainly don’t condone the infringement of copyright – but internet users needattractive, lawful alternatives if we are to see positive behavioural change. There’s no reason why Australia shouldn’t be leading the way here.”

Image credit: Delimiter


  1. “…but internet users need attractive, lawful alternatives if we are to see positive behavioural change…”

    That’s the argument in a nutshell, but the bozos at simply do not understand that people do it because they charge rip-off prices…

  2. I spent an entire day recently looking for missing titles in several ebooks series I have read. Yup, geolims are so inconsistent that you can buy some books in a series, but not others. In one case, I had bought all the books in a specific series, and was able to pre-order the next one from Amazon, but nobody would allow me to buy the most recently published title.

    With delight, I finally found several of my “no Australians allowed” Agency 6 ebooks at W. H. Smith in the U.K. The big 6 American publishers, when they respond at all to queries about the inconsistencies and blatant discrimination of geographic limitations, tell us it’s “because you’re in the U.K. book zone”. So a U.K. book site should be able to sell me ebooks, right?

    Not right. Although the U.K. book site allowed me to register with an Australian address, and at no point in my browsing or in ebook details did it make any mention of geographic limitations, when I went to checkout I was confronted with a demand for a U.K. residental address.

    So three solid hours of my time was wasted on that site alone, looking for my missing titles, and correlating them with the increasingly complex lists and data I have to keep on where I bought books before geolims, in what format, which device or program I have to use to access them, where I have been allowed to buy them since, and what I have not been allowed to buy. This process takes up a lot more of my time, and without Calibre, I wouldn’t be able to manage it at all.

    So I spend many, many hours on a regular basis searching the Net and keeping track of my purchases, and put up with a great deal of inconvenience (different sites, different formats, different readers) just so I can buy ebooks. Yet I could get all my missing titles, within a minute or two, in an easily-convertable format, on the darknet.

    Instead of constantly attacking its customers, why doesn’t the publishing industry support us in doing the right thing? Why are we blocked at every turn from buying media available to the majority?

    How hard can it be to offer accessible media at a reasonable price?

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