An Australian judge has upheld a "pure conduit" defence by an internet service provider against claims by copyright holders that it should have stopped illegal filesharing on its networks.
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The landmark decision is being seen as a body blow to the efforts of copyright holders to get ISPs to police the internet for illegal file-sharing. The iiNet case was the first file-sharing piracy case to reach the courts.
According to The Age, Justice Dennis Cowdroy rejected the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft's claim that iiNet "authorised" its customers' copyright infringement by failing to act on thousands of infringement notices sent to it by AFACT.
He found iiNet had done no more than provide an internet service to its users, the paper reported. iiNet did not have control over its customers' use of the BitTorrent file-sharing software that customers used to infringe the studios' copyright, he said.
"IiNet is not responsible if an iiNet user uses that system to bring about copyright infringement the law recognises no positive obligation on any person to protect the copyright of another," The Age quoted the judge as saying.
A music industry anti-piracy group spokesman was reported at saying the decision suggested that copyright owners might have no choice but to sue individuals for illegal file-sharing.