Australia’s High Court on Friday delivered a blow to a global anti-piracy campaign by some of Hollywood’s largest film studios.
The High Court ruled unanimously that Perth-based internet service
provider iiNet Ltd had not authorized illegal downloading of movies
and television shows by its customers.
The court decided the internet provider lacked the technical power
to prevent its customers from infringing copyrights through file
sharing using the bit torrent system.
An alliance of 34 major international movie, television and music
companies – including the Walt Disney Co, Paramount Pictures Corp,
Fox Film Corp and Sony Corp – formed the Australian Federation
Against Copyright Theft in 2008 to take iiNet to court, saying the
company should be charged if customers used its service to illegally
download copyrighted material.
The federation appealed to the High Court after its
multimillion-dollar case foundered last year when the Federal Court
found iiNet was not liable for its users’ copyright infringements.
After Friday’s High Court decision, iiNet chief executive Michael
Malone said the best way for the movie industry to protect its
copyrights was to increase the availability of lawful online content
in a more timely and affordable manner.
Malone said he was keen to work with the studios to make their
movies legitimately available to people on the internet.
The court also awarded costs to iiNet, an amount estimated by
Malone to be more than 9 million Australian dollars (9.3 million US
Federation managing director Neil Gane said it was time for the
government to change the law because illegal downloading of
copyrighted material was costing the national economy more than 1.3
billion Australian dollars a year.