Internet Industry Association chief Peter Coroneos has fronted a fiery cross-examination in the Federal Court today, as representatives of the world's major film studios attempted to portray the IIA’s application to enter the iiNet copyright case as providing “nothing new”.
Coroneos took the witness stand only after Justice Cowdroy turned down a proposal by the IIA's barristers requesting that he not be subject to cross-examination.
But Coroneos' brief appearance on the stand did not sate the film industry’s lead barrister Tony Bannon, who argued against the IIA's admission to proceedings.
“To satisfy the rule [to be admitted as a friend of the court], they’ve got to show there’s something new or different added [in their appearance],” Bannon told the court.
“There’s nothing new or different. It’s the same words [as the iiNet submissions] by a new hand.”
Earlier, Bannon had pinned Coroneos to the stand on the issue of whether he personally had reviewed iiNet’s submissions before making his own to the court.
“Are you familiar with the written submissions the IIA filed with the court?” Bannon put to Coroneos.
“Yes,” Coroneos replied.
“And you’re familiar with the iiNet submissions filed with the court?” Bannon asked.
“I think we’ve been provided with copies. I can’t say I read them all in detail,” Coroneos replied.
“Are you able to answer this question - are you able to identify a single paragraph of the IIA submissions which addresses a subject matter not already covered in the iiNet submissions?” Bannon pressed, raising his voice considerably.
The IIA’s senior counsel Stephen Burley objected, prompting Bannon to withdraw - but rephrase - the question. That drew a further objection from Burley, with Justice Cowdroy intervening to clarify with Coroneos directly.
“I believe the perspective we seek agreement on goes beyond the perspective I understand iiNet has been arguing,” Coroneos said in response. “We seek to provide the court in our submissions a broader view on how this case may affect members of the internet industry.”
“But so I can understand it, you didn’t undertake to check first whether a single one of those submissions had not been dealt with in iiNet’s submission?” Bannon responded.
Burley objected a third time, saying the question was “irrelevant”.
“He hasn’t undertaken personally whether anything he’s said in writing hasn’t been dealt with in written submissions by iiNet? I want it on the record.”
Burley pointed out that the iiNet submissions were not available to the association at the time the IIA drafted its affidavit.
“I think that raises a factual issue,” Justice Cowdroy agreed. “I don’t think your question is going to go very far,” he told Bannon.
“We’ve looked through their submissions. It looks the same as what iiNet already said,” Bannon responded. “It doesn’t satisfy the rules [for amicus curae].”
“Are you referring to any submissions?” Justice Cowdroy asked Bannon. “In other words, there’s nothing new in the IIA submissions?”
“That would be our submission,” Bannon replied.
The battle continued even after Coroneos left the stand, with Bannon labelling as "absurd" parts of Burley's oral submissions to the court.
Justice Cowdroy reserved his decision on the application until 10.15am on Thursday.
The case continues.