Aussie ISP Winning Initial Court Battle Against Copyright Holders

SYDNEY, Australia – The battle between rights holders and Internet service providers has taken a new turn Down Under as iiNet scored a major victory in court.

A judge ruled several key charges levied against the major Aussie ISP were without merit, including an accusation of direct copyright infringement.

The Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) filed a lawsuit in November 2008 claiming iiNet users had illegally downloaded copyrighted movies and the ISP was responsible, reports ITWire.

AFACT represents Village Roadshow, Universal Pictures, Warner Bros Entertainment, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, 20th Century Fox Film Corporation, Disney Enterprises Inc. and the Seven Network.  The studios have now been ordered to pay initial court costs, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Despite the setback, AFACT said it will press on with the part of the case saddling iiNet with liability over its users' illegal actions.

Should the ISP -- Australia's third-largest -- be found guilty, then AFACT could also go after Aussie telecoms such as Telstra and Optus. The case could also have ramifications in other nations dealing with Internet copyright infringement and who's guilty beyond individual users.

Some have claimed iiNet was targeted first because of daring to face-off against Communications Minister Senator Stephen Conroy over his proposed mandatory ISP filter program, which iiNet opposes. Conroy even attacked the ISP on national television with flippant comments, leading some to suggest iiNet possibly could sue the politician.