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Movie giants launch action against iiNet over illegal downloads

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Internet service provider iiNet has been hit with legal action over allegations it allowed customers to breach copyright by downloading movies via peer-to-peer file sharing sites.

Internet service provider iiNet has been hit with legal action over allegations it allowed customers to breach copyright by downloading movies via peer-to-peer file sharing sites.

A group of 34 firms under the banner of the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) have launched the action.

The companies include Village Roadshow, Universal Pictures, Warner Bros, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Disney, and the Seven Network, which acts as Australian licensee of some of the infringed films.

The companies, which lodged the action in the Federal Court yesterday, want a ruling that iiNet infringed copyright by failing to take reasonable steps to prevent known unauthorised use of copies of the companies’ films and TV programs by iiNet’s customers via its network.

They also want the accounts of users who breach copyright to be terminated and a permanent injunction preventing movie downloads via the peer-to-peer site BitTorrent.

Unspecified damages are also being sought.

AFACT executive director Adrianne Pecotic, said the action was taken after iiNet ignored repeated notices identifying thousands of illegal file transfers via iiNet’s network carried out by its customers.

“iiNet refused to address this illegal behaviour and did nothing to prevent the continuation of the infringements by the same customers,” Pecotic said in a statement.

“iiNet has an obligation under the law to take steps to prevent further known copyright infringement via its network.”

The managing director of Roadshow Entertainment, Chris Chard, said titles such as Happy Feet, No Reservation and I am Legend have been pirated by iiNet’s customers using bit torrent technology.

“Piracy impacts our film production business, but also our cinemas, DVD business, and our studios. Ultimately piracy results in lost jobs, and limits investment in new programs and films, as well as in new technologies which benefit consumers. This will only worsen as broadband speeds increase if we do not take action now.”

iiNet chief executive Michael Malone issued a statement saying it will “vigorously defend”.

“We have always cooperated fully with the law in the past, and will continue to do so in the future.” However, Malone has conceded the action is likely to become an important test case.

The proceedings will be back before the Federal Court on 17 December.

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