On 12 August 2011 the High Court of Australia sitting in Sydney heard the special leave application for Roadshow’s appeal against the Full Federal Court’s decision in Roadshow v iiNet. The High Court granted special leave to appeal the Full Court’s decision.
iiNet is Australia’s second largest DSL provider behind Telstra’s Bigpond division, employs over 2,000 people and is listed on the Australian Stock Exchange.
The original proceedings in the Federal Court were brought by the Seven Network and various film studios against ISP iiNet, with the studios arguing that iiNet had authorised its users’ copyright infringement of 86 of the Applicants’ films, and therefore iiNet was liable under the Copyright Act for authorisation. The Federal Court held iiNet had not authorised the primary infringements because the BitTorrent system, not iiNet’s provision of Internet services, was the true means of infringement. The Applicants appealed to the Full Federal Court, but a 2:1 majority dismissed the appeal.
In response to the the High Court’s granting of special leave, iiNet’s CEO Michael Malone said in a press release that:
“We remain committed to developing an industry solution that sees more content readily and cheaply available online as well as a sensible model for dealing with repeated copyright infringement activity.
“We will continue to defend our position in these proceedings if necessary. I remain convinced that a genuine industry-wide solution is a better outcome for all concerned and I’m hopeful it will be developed.”
On the other hand the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT), which has been acting on behalf of the film studious issued a press release saying,
“The film and television companies said they were confident of their grounds of appeal and looked forward to presenting their arguments to the High Court later this year.”
There is a clear need for legislative change in Australia to the modernise digital piracy laws. The outcome of the High Court appeal should provide further clarity on the scope and operation of the current regime and how ISPs and content owners can protect their various interests.
Digital piracy is rife as evidenced by these statistics:
- 16.58 million times – the number of illegal downloads of the movie ‘AVATAR’ in 2010
- 4.7 million Australians accessed online content illegally in 2010
- $900 million – the cost to Australian core content industries in 2010 due to digital piracy
- 2.5 million jobs will be put at risk globally by 2015 due to piracy and counterfeiting