Aussie ISP Pressured to Admit Customer Piracy

PERTH, Australia – Aussie Internet service provider iiNet is being pressured by entertainment groups to admit its customers violate copyrights.

The Perth-based firm, said to be Australia's third-largest ISP, is currently under fire, accused of enabling copyright infringement and due in court June 9.

The anti-piracy group AFACT said iiNet should stop wasting the court's time and just agree that its users engage in piracy, reports TechDirt.

Film and TV companies that include Village Roadshow, Universal Pictures, Warner Bros Entertainment, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Disney Enterprises, Inc. and Aussie free-to-air made the move last year to file a lawsuit against iiNet for copyright infringement.

In a statement issued Friday, the group accused the ISP of authorizing piracy, following iiNet's submission of a defense suggesting it is not responsible for the actions of individual customers. 

AFACT has already dropped a claim of "conversion" in the case, which held that iiNet allowed infringement is liable as the cause of such. Federal Court Judge Dennis Cowdroy threw out the claim and ordered entertainment studios to pay iiNet’s court costs for that element. But accusations of other liability because the uploading or downloading of copyrighted works occurred on the iiNet network and equipment will still make it to court next month.

"AFACT has presented evidence of tens of thousands of instances of copyright infringement by iiNet's users," a spokeman said.  "iiNet has accepted the veracity of that evidence and have already admitted that their customers have made films available without license. To make those acknowledgements and not accept that those customers are engaged in copyright infringement is simply a tactic by iiNet designed to delay and frustrate the running of the case."

iiNet will not admit to enabling of any sort nor will admit any of its users pirate content. "Our basic position is that we don't admit anything, it's up to them to demonstrate that," said iiNet managing director Michael Malone, according to TorrentFreak. "If they come and say that a person is committing piracy, it's their obligation to prove that."

 Malone did acknowledge that piracy is bad for the company and its business, but noted the vast schism between consumers and copyright holders.

"You have this strange situation out there that consumers are so desperate they're willing to steal something," he said. "We'd much prefer to work with someone out there to put commercial content available in a way that's viable."

Should AFACT win in court, other ISPs Down Under could also be sued; if iiNet claims victory it will be a set back most rights groups. While Australian's justice system is somewhat different than other democratic nations, it's still likely the decision could impact future cases around the world.