Day 12: Exetel blog surfaces in iiNet cross-examination

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Day 12: Exetel blog surfaces in iiNet cross-examination

Difficulty of developing an automated program.

The film industry has today attempted to introduce blog posts from Exetel chief John Linton and People Telecom's copyright policy as examples of what other industry players are doing to combat alleged infringement on their networks.

iiNet's barrister Richard Cobden objected to both introductions on the grounds of relevance.

Justice Cowdroy said the relevance of the Exetel blog posts was "not readily apparent".

He also quizzed the film industry's barrister Tony Bannon on whether People's copyright policy - obtained from its website - could also fall into "the same category as the [Exetel] documents".

Justice Cowdroy asked barristers for both sides to attempt to reach an agreement on the use of Linton's blog posts and the People policy in the lunch break.

Earlier, he had allowed Bannon to refer to parts of a Linton post dated 13 June that discussed a meeting between Linton and the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) that described, among other things, Exetel's peer-to-peer policy.

"I'm not sure at this stage what relevance is. I'll allow it for the time being to see what transpires," Justice Cowdroy stated.

iiNet has previously indicated it would argue that developing a system to deal with the thousands of alleged infringement notices it received would put it at a commercial disadvantage with respect to other players in the market.

Malone told Bannon he had relied on his background as the developer of iiNet's "original billing system" and his subsequent decade working on it to form the view that developing an automated program to handle the notifications would involve some degree of "difficulty".

He agreed under cross-examination that iiNet had "many" programmers on its staff, including 60 alone on its billing team whose roles included "writing automated programs for sending customers notices when they are in default [of a payment]."

"But when it came to the question of presenting to His Honour evidence on behalf of iiNet of the degree of difficulty of developing [an automated program to deal with infringement notices], you consulted of those 60 programmers none?" Bannon alleged.

"Correct," Malone stated.

"But the managing director took it upon himself to suggest there was difficulty in writing a program in relation to infringement notices?" Bannon alleged.

"Yes," Malone stated.

Bannon then referred Malone to Linton's blog post and directed him to read to himself large parts of it.

In the post, Linton describes how Exetel allegedly created an automated system for dealing with "emailed copyright infringement notices" using a "trivial amount of code".

Further, Linton claimed in his post "the code required to do it was available to anyone who wanted to download it under our open source policy if they truly believed it would take immense efforts and costs to write themselves."

"Have you made any enquiries as to Exetel's billing system?" Bannon asked Malone.

"No," Malone responded. "Mr Linton is not a reliable source of information about anything," he claimed before iiNet's counsel objected to the line of questioning.

Mr Linton has previously given evidence in a case between One Tel and a former employee in February 2000 in the Industrial Relations Commission of NSW.  

At that time the Deputy President of the Commission, Peter Sams, labelled Mr Linton's evidence as "hopelessly flawed and unbelievable".

The case continues. You can follow the case in-full here. For a background on the case, click here.

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