AFACT v iiNet: the case that could shut down the Internet

We’ve asked prominent legal experts for their opinion on iiNet’s chances of successfully defending itself in the user piracy lawsuit.The case for copyright infringement brought against iiNet by a consortium of 34 movie studios and Channel 7, represented by the Australian Federation against Copyright Theft (“AFACT”) will be the first test case to determine the scope of an Internet Service Provider’s liability for copyright infringement conducted by users under Australian Copyright Law.Depending upon who you ask, lawyers for the consortium would have you believe that this is a simple case that iiNet has no hope of winning. iiNet, on the other hand, has pledged to “vigorously defend the Federal Court action” denying that they have in any way given support or encouragement for its users to breach copyright.We’ve interviewed various legal experts including Steve White, the Principal of Steve White Computer Law and other lawyers who preferred not to be quoted by name to help you understand this case. (Disclosure: as well as being a tech journalist, I am also solicitor with experience in copyright law.)The first thing to understand is that this case is a civil action which means that AFACT is suing iiNet to either obtain money (damages) or an injunction (a court order to make or stop iiNet from doing something). They are doing this under sections 115 and 116 of the Copyright Act 1968 (as amended) which are the provisions which deal with infringement of copyright. Since this is not a criminal prosecution, the directors of iiNet are not at risk of jail terms or fines. iiNet will probably lose the piracy lawsuit
As you probably know by now, iiNet has been sued by a number of movie studios and Channel 7 for allowing piracy to occur on its network — specifically BitTorrent piracy of movies and TV shows.iiNet has argued that when the movie industry made complaints about user piracy on its network, it turned that information over to police, with the presumption that police would investigate.iiNet chief Michael Malone has said that iiNet can’t just disconnect someone’s phone line because the movie industry makes an allegation that a user is pirating.

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