SCAPEGOAT: iiNet sued over BitTorrent piracy

Internet service provider iiNet is being sued by seven Hollywood movie studios for failing to disconnect users who allegedly swapped pirated movies via BitTorrent potentially paving the way for Australia’s biggest legal case yet on Internet copyright.

A press release from the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft issued today revealed that seven big-name studios had filed suit against iiNet which is said to have ignored repeated requests to disconnect users said to be involved in illegal content swapping.

Village Roadshow Universal Warner Bros Paramount Sony Twentieth Century Fox and Disney are the studios involved. Channel Seven (which has distribution deals with several of the named studios) is also a party to the suit.

“iiNet refused to address this illegal behaviour and did nothing to prevent the continuation of the infringements by the same customers” AFACT executive director Adrianne Pecotic said in a statement. “iiNet has an obligation under the law to take steps to prevent further known copyright infringement via its network.”

iiNet chief operating officer Mark White told APC that iiNet would be consulting with the Internet Industry Association to formulate a response.

“Our view is pretty straightforward. We don’t condone or support piracy in any form and people who choose to pirate content should face the force of the law” he said. “This is an industry issue and we’ve been talking with the IIA and we’ll work with them in terms of handling it.”

It appears no individuals have been singled out as part of the lawsuit “They don’t write to us with a person they write to us with an IP address” White said.

The selection of iiNet as a target seems somewhat ironic given that the ISP is one of the most active promoters of legal access to copyrighted content. iiNet subscribers can access paid-for content on the iTunes store and the ABC’s iView service without it being counted against their download cap.

“We believe that people want access to content and we’re very keen for people to get access to it at the lowest price possible on a legal basis” White said.

The action was filed in the Federal Court today (November 20) and will return to the court on December 17.

Is iiNet to blame for users’ BitTorrent piracy?
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