Australia High Court denies copyright infringement liability for ISPs

[JURIST] The High Court of Australia [official website] ruled [judgment] Friday that internet service providers (ISPs) cannot be held liable for the copyright infringement of their customers in the case of Roadshow Films v. iiNet Limited. The court ruled that the specific systems used to perpetrate the copyright infringement were not controlled by the ISP. They further held that the ISP did not host infringing material, nor did they assist their customers in its discovery. The court went on to note that the contractual obligations of the ISPs customers binds users to follow all laws, including those against copyright infringement. The court noted:

The extent of iiNet's power was limited to an indirect power to prevent a customer's primary infringement of the appellants' films by terminating the contractual relationship between them. The information contained in the [infringement] notices ... did not provide iiNet with a reasonable basis for sending warning notices to individual customers containing threats to suspend or terminate those customers' accounts. For these reasons, iiNet's inactivity after receipt of the [infringement] notices did not give rise to an inference of authorisation ... of any act of primary infringement by its customers.
This ruling reversed the opinion of the lower Federal Court.

Intellectual property legal issues continue to challenge content creators, distributors, and the global justice system. Earlier Friday, a German court ruled [JURIST report] that Google's YouTube service must use a filter to prevent people from uploading music videos that the do not have the right to upload. In August, a US federal court ruled [JURIST report] that a music file-sharing site could be held liable for contributory copyright infringement, and did not qualify for safe harbor under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) [text, PDF]. In April 2011, the UK High Court upheld [JURIST report] that nation's Digital Economy Act (DEA) [text and materials], aimed at the prevention of online copyright infringement, including provisions that ISPs to pay 25% of the costs to monitor for online infringement.

 

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