Last week's judgement in the iiNet vs AFACT case has opened a few interesting cans of worms - including the possibility that ISP providers may be charged with disconnecting people who pirate. So what does iiNet think about this?
For those who haven’t been keeping abreast of the situation, the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) took iiNet to court in 2009 for authorising copyright infringement over its network. It accused the provider of allowing its customers to illegally download 100,000 films, TV shows and music singles over a 59 week period.
Although iiNet was ultimately cleared of any wrong-doing (for now), the judgment determined that it would be a “reasonable step” for ISPs to disconnect customers who receive infringement notices from film industry bodies.
In making the judgement, Justice Emmett said: "It is difficult to see why [this response] is unreasonable, if the customer, having been warned... chooses to continue to permit the iiNet service to be used to engage in infringing acts.”
In other words, those accused of illegally downloading movies could have their Internet connections cancelled.
We asked iiNet’s communications manager Anthony Fisk about this possibility at the MediaConnect Kickstart 2011 technology conference. He believes that charging ISPs with disconnecting their customers is a flawed solution.
“This is something [ISPs] have done in the past and it isn’t ideal. Optus used to do it, and then they stopped. ...We shouldn’t have to be the Internet Service Police.”
Fisk also highlighted the inherent difficulties in proving that a subscriber is at fault. “What happens if you live in a shared accommodation, or your girlfriend comes over and downloads an illegal movie? In Australia, you’re supposed to be innocent until proven guilty.”
Fisk believes that government regulation needs to be implemented across all ISPs. “iiNet has always said it’s willing to sit down with AFACT, other ISPs and the government to try and work out a solution that everyone’s happy with. Ultimately, there needs to be some kind of proper regulation across the industry.”