The High Court will consider the law in relation to copyright infringement authorisation for the first time since 1975, after it granted leave to appeal the full Federal Court's decision in Roadshow Films v iiNet .
On 12 August the High Court allowed 34 film and television companies special leave to appeal the full Federal Court's February finding that internet service provider iiNet had not authorised infringements of copyright.
"The last time the High Court expressly considered copyright authorisation infringement was in the UNSW v Moorhouse decision in 1975. So it's been a long time since it's been before the High Court," said Clayton Utz senior associate Timothy Webb.
"The law has become a bit of an unhappy state in the sense that there have been a large number of technological developments. If you take UNSW v Moorhouse - that was about photocopiers in a library and since then [things have changed]."
According to Webb, given the intense public interest which has surrounded the case since it began in 2008, as well as the fact there were three separate judgements within the full Federal Court's decision, it is an appropriate case for the High Court's attention.
"In the first instance decision, Justice Cowdroy said, 'The authority on authorisation has become a mire'. That sums up the state of the law and when you take that into account as well it really does mean it was time, perhaps, for the High Court to consider these issues."
The High Court hearing is expected later this year or early 2012.