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Lawyers anticipate landmark iiNet outcome

Lawyers anticipate landmark iiNet outcome

Copyright lawyers have declared that no matter what the outcome of the Federal Court's landmark copyright decision between iiNet and a group of Hollywood cinema giants this week, the case is…

Copyright lawyers have declared that no matter what the outcome of the Federal Court's landmark copyright decision between iiNet and a group of Hollywood cinema giants this week, the case is "destined for the High Court".

The Hollywood studios - including Roadshow Films, Warner Bros and Twentieth Century Fox - allege that subscribers, or other users of the internet service provider iiNet, use peer-to-peer software (BitTorrent) and iiNet's internet facilities to download copies of Roadshow's films.

They claim that those films are made available from iiNet users' computers and shared via iiNet's facilities, resulting in an infringement of copyright.

Minter Ellison partner Paul Zawa told Lawyers Weekly recently that at this point the outcome is unpredictable, but likely to be appealed and to reach the High Court.

He added that "the decision will have a great impact" and could have more importance for copyright law than the recent IceTV case -where the High Court allowed IceTV to update their electronic programme guides from information sourced from the Nine Network.

According to Allens Arthur Robinson partner Andrew Wiseman, the decision is significant because "there hasn't been any clear judicial guidance" in this area so far and there has been an "ongoing tension between ISPs, on the one side, and content owners, in terms of who has what responsibility in relation to the proper use of that content".

If the Federal Court decides in favour of the motion picture industry, Zawa said: "ISPs throughout the country will be going on a mad scramble to ensure they're not authorising any infringements and they will have to invest much more in terms of personnel and automated systems for notifications of infringement". If iiNet is successful, Zawa said enforcement of anti-piracy will become much more difficult.

The Federal Court will hand down judgement on 4 February 2010

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