Thursday, October 8, 2009


iiNet says piracy claim exaggerated

Miriam Steffens
October 8, 2009 - 12:18AM

IN THE movie industry's landmark case over illegal film downloads, internet service provider iiNet has launched its counter-attack calling the movie studios' claims of tens of thousands of copyright infringements over its network ''highly exaggerated'' and ''out of kilter''.

As hearings went into their second day in the Federal Court yesterday, iiNet's lawyer, Richard Cobden, SC, outlined the Perth-based internet company's line of defence.

Lambasting the film studios' ''exuberant rhetoric'', iiNet maintains it wasn't doing anything different from its larger rivals such as Telstra and Optus selling access to the internet, and had done nothing that would amount to willingly allowing its customers to download pirated movies.

Thirty-four entertainment companies, including Hollywood studios Paramount, Warner Bros and 20th Century Fox, as well as Australia's Village Roadshow and Kerry Stokes' Seven Network, have accused iiNet of authorising copyright infringements by not cutting off accounts of users who repeatedly downloaded illegal copies of films and TV programs through file-sharing software such as BitTorrent.

The court battle is not only critical to the future of iiNet, but to the internet industry as a whole, which is seeking to avoid having to police its users to prevent illegal downloading.

iiNet is believed to have been targeted as it has a higher proportion of internet downloads than Telstra and Optus with their more traditional business and mum-and-dad clientele.

The studios' lead barrister, Tony Bannon, SC, said yesterday that looking at staff records, iiNet had taken a ''teflon approach'' in regards to its clients' use of BitTorrent. At the same time, its chief executive, Michael Malone, had attacked Westnet, a smaller provider iiNet acquired last year, for complying with the studios' demands and notifying alleged infringers.

According to an email read out in court, Mr Malone told Westnet's management its approach was ''doing damage to the industry and iiNet's position on this matter''.

iiNet argues the studios chose not to go after actual internet offenders, but pursued the company to make it bear the cost of policing infringements and defend their copyrights.

The case continues today.

This story was found at: http://www.theage.com.au/business/iinet-says-piracy-claim-exaggerated-20091007-gn8j.html

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