At first glance, this morning’s High Court decision regarding Roadshow Films and others v iiNet Limited looks like a classic case of David versus a very formidable Goliath in the shape of the major Hollywood studios.
This is a three-nil win for the service provider — iiNet first won in February 2010 when 34 Australian and US film and TV copyright-holders first alleged in the Federal Court in 2009 that iiNet was “authorising” the copyright-infringing actions of its customers by failing to act on the complaints they’d filed. They then won the Full Federal Court appeal in February 2011.
But as Stilgherrian writes in Crikey today, based on the court’s full judgment, it’s entirely possible that things might have turned out differently had the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft or iiNet handled things differently. And there are some “less-than-subtle hints that the government might wish to have a look at this”.
Stilgherrian points out that the High Court said in paragraph 77:
“The appellants’ submission … assumes obligations on the part of an ISP which the Copyright Act does not impose.”
An act, first enacted in 1968, that ran for around 100 pages and is now five times the size as it attempts to keep pace with massive technological changes. An act that the government may be inclined to look at amending, if certain interests decide to lobby hard enough.
So what does this mean for internet users who value the free flow of information in tandem with a reasonable set of expectations placed on third party providers? Watch this space very closely, and keep across the fine print.
Just as the recent campaigns against the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP Act in the US highlighted, it’s up to savvy users to pick holes in the arguments of industries that are too outdated to frame their expectations around the way the internet actually works, as opposed to how they’d like it to work.
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