AFACT 'goes for the throat' in iiNet case

The copyright industry body withdraws another claim against iiNet close to trial date in a bid to boost its main case

The Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) has dropped another legal claim against iiNet six days before its Federal Court trial in a bid to bolster its main case.

The legal brawl over copyright infringement was instigated by AFACT against iiNet in November. Representing a host of movie studios, AFACT accused the ISP of violating copyright laws by allowing subscribers to download films through BitTorrent and peer-to-peer (P2P).

In AFACT’s Outline of Submissions tendered to the Court earlier this month, the industry group omitted a former claim which alleged iiNet made copies of and stored pirated movies. That aspect of the case asserted the ISP cached the illegal content as it passed through its network when users were downloading movies. AFACT subsequently conceded to the Court that it has withdrawn that claim.

This marks the second time the industry representative has dropped a portion of its case. In May, AFACT disposed of a legal claim known as ‘conversion’, which suggested iiNet denied copyright holders their right over possession.

AFACT stressed it is trying to pool more resources behind the main part of the case by shedding the peripheral components.

“The authorisation part of the case, which says iiNet failed to prevent online copyright theft of customers, has always been the main part of the case,” an AFACT spokesperson told ARN. “The cache and conversion claims were always subsidiary."

In response, an iiNet spokesperson vented his frustration at the industry group’s penchant for dropping bits of the case and its shallow comprehension of the Internet industry.

“It’s a frustrating and annoying thing that they would make these mischievous claims and withdraw them at the last second,” he said. “We didn’t think they had any evidence to support that claim and it has turned out that we were right.

“They clearly don’t seem to understand how the Internet works and for AFACT to make that claim in the first place shows its ignorance over the technology.”

AFACT defended its late decision, highlighting iiNet’s own shortcomings in timely submittal of evidence.

“iiNet is still filing evidence before the Court and there are documents we are still receiving as close as yesterday and today,” the AFACT spokesperson said. “In terms of cutting it fine, it’s a tight timetable and as evidence comes to light, decisions are being made close to the hearing date. But you certainly can’t draw any conclusions on that.”

The trial commences on October 6.

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