Australian ISP iiNet sued over customer copyright infringement

Australia’s second largest ISP iiNet has been sued by the film and television industry over copyright infringement by its customers.

The action against iiNet was filed in the Australian Federal Court by Village Roadshow, Universal Pictures, Warner Bros, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, 20th Century Fox, Disney and the Seven Network.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the companies are seeking a ruling that iiNet infringed copyright by failing to stop users from engaging in illegal file sharing over BitTorrent. They are seeking an order to force iiNet to prevent its customers from engaging in copyright infringement over its network. An industry spokesman said that damages would be sought.

Mark White, iiNet’s chief operating officer, said the company did not support piracy but it could not disconnect customers just because the movie industry claimed they engaged in illegal downloading.

In an interesting angle, the Herald reported Peter Coroneos, chief executive of the Internet Industry Association saying that the case may involve use of safe harbor provisions under the Australian-US Free Trade Agreement

“This is a very important test case for the internet industry in Australia. It will test the effect of the safe harbour provisions that were introduced with the US free trade agreement, which provides immunity for ISPs in certain circumstances such as transmission, hosting, caching and referencing activities.”

Disclosure: I am an iiNet customer.