iiNet pressured to admit users acted illegally in copyright case
The entertainment groups forming the legal attack against Perth-based internet service provider iiNet have ramped up their claims, pressuring the company to admit its customers engaged in piracy.
The groups issued a statement on Friday in which it alleges the ISP "authorised" piracy within its user base, after iiNet submitted an amended defence to the Federal Court.
The amended defence, ordered by the court, was submitted after a claim of "conversion" was dropped from the case. The accusation of "conversion" would have meant that iiNet not only allowed copyright infringement, but would be liable as the main infringer of those copyrighted materials.
Entertainment groups and studios including 20th Century Fox, Disney, Paramount Films, Universal and the Seven Network, working together as The Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft, said that iiNet should admit to customer piracy to avoid wasting the court's time.
"AFACT has presented evidence of tens of thousands of instances of copyright infringement by iiNet's users," a spokesperson says. "iiNet has accepted the veracity of that evidence and have already admitted that their customers have made films available without licence.
"To make those acknowledgements and not accept that those customers are engaged in copyright infringement is simply a tactic by iiNet designed to delay and frustrate the running of the case."
But iiNet managing director Michael Malone says the company is not responsible for proving anything.
"Our basic position is that we don't admit anything, it's up to them to demonstrate that. If they come and say that a person is committing piracy, it's their obligation to prove that," he says.
Malone also says that piracy is not good for the company, so it would be in its best interests to avoid illegal downloads at all costs.
"You have this strange situation out there that consumers are so desperate they're willing to steal something. We'd much prefer to work with someone out there to put commercial content available in a way that's viable."
The latest quarrel comes just a few weeks after AFACT dropped part of its case against the ISP, after accusing it of conversion.
But the original case will continue, in which AFACT alleges that iiNet is liable because copying of copyrighted materials occurred on its network and equipment.
If the case falls in AFACT's favour, it would have major ramifications for other internet providers both in Australia and other nations. The case is due back in court by 9 June.