Industry must cooperate to combat illegal downloads: iiNet

Film and TV companies given special leave by the High Court to appeal case against ISP

Internet service provider (ISP) iiNet has called for a whole-of-industry discussion to make content more available online, following the High Court’s decision today to grant special leave to appeal by a film and television industry conglomerate, who are suing the ISP for copyright infringement by its customers.

iiNet chief executive, Michael Malone, said in a statement that given the significance of the issues involved, he was not surprised the High Court had decided to review the case.

"Nevertheless, I know the internet industry is eager to work with the film industry and copyright holders to develop a workable solution," he said.

"We remain committed to developing an offering that seems more content ready and cheaply available online, as well as a sensible model for dealing with repeated copyright infringement activity."

Malone also said that the ISP will continue to defend its position in these proceedings if necessary.

"I remain convinced that a genuine industry-wide offering is a better outcome for all concerned and I'm hopeful it will be developed," he said.

In response, the 34 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.

On 24 February 2011, the Federal Court dismissed the first appeal by the conglomerate against iiNet, but found in favour of the TV and film companies on many points, including that it was reasonable for ISPs to take steps to prevent known infringements that were occurring on their networks.

The majority of the Federal Court did not accept iiNet's argument that establishing a system of warning and mitigation measures was too difficult or costly.

iiNet's defence that it was eligible for the statutory safe harbour provisions was also rejected.

The case’s hearing commenced on 6 October, 2009 in the Federal Court before the decision was handed down on 4 February, 2010.

In April 2011, a group of Australian entertainment companies and distributors, called the Digital Entertainment Alliance Australia (DEAA), came together to form a conglomerate aimed at sitting down with ISPs and telecommunication companies to look at ways of combating online piracy.

At the time, Australian Home Entertainment Distributors Association chief executive, Simon Bush, told Computerworld Australia that various sectors of the film industry were working on strategies to address piracy and meet consumer demand for digital formats.

One idea was to shorten the window between when a film was released in the cinema and became available online.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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