Big Content loses Aussie show trial

Big Content hoped that an anti-piracy case against an ISP down-under would set an international precedent. Unfortunately it set the sort of precedent that Hollywood did not want.

Hollywood brought up its big guns to take on the small ISP, iiNet. The ISP had not done anything other than refuse to go through the material which passes through its servers and delete copyrighted material. 

What Big Content wanted was a win which would force other, bigger, ISPs, to do the same thing and, like many US inspired efforts, it assumed that if it threw enough money into a court room it would beat any small ISP which could not come up with the funds.

Sadly, for Big Content, courts outside the US are less interested how much money you have and are a little more interested in the law.  Hollywood was told to sling its hook.

Undeterred, Hollywood appealed, but yesterday the Australian High Court’s five judges unanimously told them to go forth and multiply.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the court observed that iiNet “had no direct technical power” to prevent its customers from illegally downloading pirated content using BitTorrent or any other popular protocol used to share files online.

iiNet CEO Michael Malone said Hollywood should now focus on increasing the availability of lawful content in a “timely and affordable manner”. 

iiNet’s stand against Hollywood cost about $9 million in legal bills and the court ordered that the movie industry foot the bill.

The Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT), which has been representing the studios, is changing tactics to get the government to alter copyright laws. Politicians have always been a lot more flexible and friendly when it came to campaign contributions, er, understanding the issues.