Australian ISP iiNet has won a landmark court case against the film industry, with courts ruling the company should not be held responsible for piracy by its users.
A consortium of film studios, acting under the banner of the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT), had taken iiNet to court after the operator refused to disconnect users the group had claimed were violating piracy.
The court held that ISPs are not liable for the downloading habits of its customers, and that being aware of infringements occurring and not acting to stop them does not constitute authorization.
“The law recognises no positive obligation on any person to protect the copyright of another,” the ruling reads.
iiNet today welcomed
the decision. “We have never supported or encouraged breaches of the law,” the ISP said in a statement. “Today's judgment is a vindication of that.”
The operator added that from its perspective, “today marks the end of the matter.” But AFACT is entitled to lodge an appeal with the high court.
The Internet Society of Australia also applauded
the decision. “The internet is an essential part of how Australians live, work and play,” vice president Narelle Clark said. “The court has confirmed that ISPs are not required to be the gatekeepers of internet use.
The court case, which commenced last year, is part of a wider attempt
by copyright agencies to make disconnection from the internet a penalty for violating copyright.
The groups have also been lobbying global governments to introduce changes to the law that would force ISPs to disconnect repeat offenders – with success in places including France and the UK.