Australian telco industry trade group Communications Alliance has applied to participate in the copyright case between iiNet and the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) , with the anticipation that an industry-led solution to content piracy online can be reached by early 2012.
AFACT, on behalf of a number of big movie studios, took iiNet to Court two years ago, claiming that iiNet effectively authorised movie piracy by subscribers on its network through inaction. Despite iiNet’s initial win in the Federal Court, the case is scheduled to go to the High Court in December.
Communications Alliance is seeking to intervene in the court case as an amicus curaie or ‘a friend of the Court. Australia’s Internet Industry Association (IIA) had applied to be amicus curaie during the Federal Court proceeding but has decided to sit out of this round at this stage.
The Alliance has decided to be a part of the Court action as it feels the outcome of the case carries enormous risk for ISPs and consumers. Communications Alliance CEO, John Stanton, speaking at the Communications Day Summit in Melbourne, said the body was supporting iiNet’s submission in the case, but also making additional arguments on what constitutes authorisation of copyright infringement or not or what constitutes reasonable steps by ISPs to act to help prevent copyright infringement by its customers. He warned that should AFACT win in the High Court, the ramifications for ISPs would be higher costs associated with policing its networks and disconnecting allegedly copyright infringing customer.
“The disconnection of Internet customers in today’s increasingly converged world can also involve disconnecting them from voice services and or emergency call services,” Stanton said. “It can also involve disconnecting users that have nothing to do with any alleged or actual infringement. So I hope we are granted leave in this case that is a very important one for all Australians.”
Communications Alliance has worked with the IIA to hold discussions between ISPs and content owners – including those in the movie, music and software industry – in order to develop an industry led solution to piracy over the Internet. Stanton said that more progress in the last three months on the issue than in the last 10 years.
Expressing the hope that an industry-led solution could be in place by early next year, Stanton siad there was “an urgency to it on both sides to get it done. That ought to be possible in a matter of months if it is going to happen at all.”
The industry group has had several discussions about content piracy online with the Attorney-General’s department and both are expected to meet up again at the end of the year to discuss the iiNet v AFACT case after the High Court hearing.