A landmark decision was handed down in Australian today as the full bench of the Federal Court found iiNet not liable of the copyright infringement committed by its subscribers, for the second time.
The original decision, handed down by Justice Cowdroy in February of last year, was appealed by the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT), a group allied with the US MPAA and represents the interests of US movie studios in Australia.
The AFACT soon filled an appeal to the decision which basically ruled that iiNet was not liable for the acts of copyright infringement committed by its subscribers, even if they were notified of these acts and failed to act, as was the case when AFACT deliberately set up a sting operation to see how iiNet would respond to infringement notifications. The AFACT claimed that by not taking action, iiNet was "authorising" infringement.
But the full bench decision has rejected the appeal. "I have concluded that the appeal should be dismissed," Justice Arthur Robert Emmett said in court.
Although the AFACT did appeal several parts of the original verdict, the general victory belong to ISP iiNet, and this decision will surely have repercussions all around the world. The entertainment lobby has been trying hard to lobby governments to pass legislation that would make ISPs responsible for policing downloads, and some countries like France, already have a "three-strikes" system that forces ISPs to respond to illegal use by warning or banning subscribers.
AFACT is likely to appeal this decision all the way to Canberra's High Court, although with two Federal Court decisions behind iiNet, Australia's second largest ISP will be going to the second appeal feeling extremely confident.
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