iiNet attempts to delay copyright case rejected

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iiNet attempts to delay copyright case rejected

Attempts by ISP iiNet to delay the start of its copyright case have been rejected by the Federal Court, with a decision now expected before Christmas, the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) has revealed.

A spokesperson for AFACT told iTnews that in rejecting the delays sought by iiNet, the Federal Court has now doubled the amount of time set aside to hear the case from two weeks to four.

"The Court has locked in additional times to ensure the case is concluded by Christmas," the spokesperson said.

"Delaying the start of the case would obviously have delayed the outcome. That was [iiNet's] main aim today."

The spokesperson also said the industry had dropped the part of its claim against iiNet that relates to ‘conversion' of rights over the downloaded films for the purposes of expediency.

"It was a subsidiary claim," the spokesperson said. "It certainly wasn't our primary case."

But the dropped claim has come at a cost to the industry, with the Federal Court awarding the legal costs related to addressing it to iiNet.

iiNet has welcomed the withdrawal but has expressed frustration at the six months to date that it has taken the industry to finalise its claims.

The withdrawn part of the claim is understood to relate to a component of variations made by AFACT in November that suggested iiNet was a primary infringer of the copyrighted works.

This component is known in legal terms as ‘conversion'.

It suggests that by allegedly allowing customers to illegally download copies of the films over its network, iiNet has turned the copyrights of the films to its advantage, i.e. the benefit of holding the rights has been converted.

"It's frustrating for us to be six months down the track and still not to have received the final claim from the industry," iiNet's chief regulatory officer Steve Dalby said.

"The claim seems to have been a bit of a moveable feast for them. It looks to us like they're struggling to get their claim and evidence together.

"We've wasted a lot of time and money on addressing this claim - and the Court has awarded us costs [as a result]."

AFACT and the industry organisations filed copies of their further amended application and statement of claim in Court, according to a statement.

iiNet chief Michael Malone has warned that, despite today's events, there is still a long way to go in the case.

"We have always said that iiNet does not in any way support, or encourage, breaches of the law, including infringement of copyright," Malone said.

"The law currently provides a process for the applicants to pursue individuals who they think are breaching copyright laws when accessing the internet.

"If the film and television studios are serious about copyright infringement they can, and should, use this process."

Malone also revealed that iiNet had been attempting to meet with AFACT "to discuss iiNet's concerns about the issues raised by the proceeding" but had so far been unsuccessful in arranging a meeting.

The case is due back before the Federal Court on June 9.

The Court ordered iiNet to file their final defence by Friday May 15.

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