Woke up this morning for my airport taxi at 3AM and discovered that my inbox had filled up overnight with exuberant emails from Australian readers who were bursting to share the news that an Australian court found that iiNet, Australia's number three ISP, wasn't liable for copyright infringements committed by its users. AFACT, the Hollywood front organization that brought the case, will have to reimburse iiNet's AU$4,000,000 legal bill.
It's not just the readers who're exuberant. Judging from the newspaper headlines (i.e. iiNet slays Hollywood in landmark piracy case — Sydney Morning Herald), there's plenty of joy in the newsrooms, too:
From IT News:
The Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft representing the film industry, has been ordered to pay iiNet's costs. iiNet chief executive Michael Malone estimated that these costs add up to around $4 million… Summarising a 200 page judgement, Justice Cowdroy found iiNet users had infringed copyright by downloading films on BitTorrent, but he found that the number of infringers was far less than alleged by AFACT.
More importantly, Justice Cowdroy said that the "mere provision of access to internet is not the means to infringement".
"Copyright infringement occured as result of use of BitTorrent, not the Internet," he said. "iiNet has no control over BitTorrent system and not responsible for BitTorrent system."
Pretty fantastic, though Judge, you might want to rephrase that last bit — BitTorrent also isn't responsible for the infringement. Here, let me fix that for you: "Copyright infringement occured as result of user who infringed copyright, not the Internet itself."
And here's the Sydney Morning Herald:
Neil Gane, executive director of the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft, which brought the case on behalf of the studios, said … "[W]e believe this decision was based on a technical finding centred on the court's interpretation of how infringements occur and the ISP's ability to control them."
Ah yes, technical findings, as in, technically, your theory that ISPs have a duty to spy on all their users and shut down anything that you don't like was technically incorrect, because it is a technically insane idea.
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