Day Seven: Film studios grilled on BitTorrent agreements

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Day Seven: Film studios grilled on BitTorrent agreements

Four studio representatives appear via video.

Paramount Pictures would likely lodge a complaint with BitTorrent over the "unauthorised use" of the studio's logo on the peer-to-peer firm's website, it was revealed in the Federal Court today.

In an explosive early morning start to day seven, representatives of four of the major film studios party to the copyright case against ISP iiNet - Warner Bros, Paramount, Disney and 20th Century Fox - appeared before the court via video link.

Allegedly expired - and confidential - agreements between the studios and BitTorrent came under heavy scrutiny from senior counsel on both sides of the case.

New details also emerged of their nature, including line items allegedly taken from the terms and conditions of an agreement between the peer-to-peer site and Paramount Studios.

At least one of the agreements, between BitTorrent and 20th Century Fox Films, also allegedly related to an "online store" that BitTorrent allegedly no longer operated.

Warner Bros takes the stand

Under cross-examination, David Kaplan, senior vice president and intellectual property counsel at Warner Bros Entertainment, was shown an alleged agreement between BitTorrent and an undisclosed member of the Motion Picture Association of America.

Asked by iiNet barrister Richard Cobden whether he understood that Warner had "entered an agreement in this form", Kaplan responded: "I believe we did".

"Do you know if this agreement is still current?" Cobden SC asked.

"I don't know but I wouldn't think so," Kaplan responded.

Under re-examination, senior counsel for the film industry Tony Bannon asked Kaplan to clarify his response.

"[I said ‘I wouldn't think so'] only because this agreement is several years old and I've not seen a report about its progress," Kaplan alleged.

"I assume if it was still an active agreement I would have got some information from the Motion Picture Association about it."

iiNet's counsel also produced a second confidential document alleged to be an "electronic license agreement" between Warner Home Video and the now-defunct Wurld Media.

It "related to a broad variety of titles to be distributed in a certain way through Wurld Media on a peer-to-peer distribution method", iiNet's counsel alleged.

Kaplan alleged the agreement was also no longer current.

Paramount takes exception to logo use

Under cross-examination, Paramount Pictures Corporation's vice president of worldwide content protection, Al Perry, was shown a document alleged by iiNet's counsel to be an "electronic sell-through license agreement between BitTorrent and Paramount Home Entertainment Inc."

A second document, alleged to be a "summary of key terms" was also referred to by counsel.

Asked by iiNet's counsel whether the agreement had "come into effect as you understood it", Perry alleged it ran from October 6 2006 until October 6 2008.

It was also alleged that Paramount Home Entertainment "may renew for an additional one year term at its discretion" but Perry alleged Paramount did not renew the agreement with BitTorrent.

iiNet's counsel read an alleged section of the summary document to the court. It was alleged the agreement between BitTorrent and Paramount was predicated on, among other things, "BitTorrent's implementation of procedures to prevent the implementation of its services, software and torrent files" for unauthorised use.

"So it's the case that Paramount was at that time [satisfied] that BitTorrent had implemented procedures to prevent BitTorrent from distributing unauthorised content?" iiNet's counsel asked Perry.

"I cant know that," Perry responded.

Under re-examination from the film industry's barrister, Perry was quizzed whether or not he was aware of the appearance of the Paramount logo on the website.

"I am aware," Perry responded.

"And have you taken or asked any steps to be taken in regards to the appearance of the logo on the website?" the film industry's counsel pressed.

"I know that others have taken, or asked to take steps," Perry alleged.

"My understanding is that someone who has become aware was surprised the logo was there and will reach out to BitTorrent to complain about its unauthorised use of the logo. It should not be there is my understanding."

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

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