iiNet case and its implications

The much anticipated judgment in the case of Roadshow Films Pty Ltd v iiNet Limited (No. 3) [2010] FCA 24 (commonly known as the iiNet case) was handed down today in favour of iiNet. What does that mean?

The legal issue

This case was driven by 34 cinema and television companies including Channel 7, NBC Studios, Sony Pictures, Universal Studios, Warner Bros, Columbia Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox. The central issue of this case was whether iiNet authorised their customers’ conduct of infringing those 34 companies’ copyright through BitTorrent downloads when it failed to take preventative measures against it.

The Federal Court did not think so. It held that iiNet did not authorise for these reasons:

  • iiNet did not provide the ‘means’ of infringement. The ‘means’ in this case is the BitTorrent software and iiNet only provided the internet service itself. iiNet has no responsibility over BitTorrent and its operations.
  • iiNet did not have the legal power through the notification, suspension and termination of accounts to prevent a copyright infringement occurring
  • iiNet did not sanction, approve or countenance copyright infringement by showing any intent to structure such a result

So what?

Internet service providers in Australia are not infringing on copyright just because their users are infringing copyright by downloading illegally. That is no protection to individuals though, so users of BitTorrent beware, they might go after individual users next.

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