iiNet says it will vigorously defend itself against AFACT's claims that it authorised piracy among its users, but the case looks set to be a long battle.
The courtroom battle between iiNet and a consortium of movie studios over whether the ISP is responsible for BitTorrent piracy looks set to rage for some time to come, with the next court hearing not set until February.
As APC reported last month, iiNet has been taken to court by a group of local and international studios for allegedly failing to disconnect users said to be involved in exchanging copyright material over the Internet.
A directions hearing was held at the Federal Court in Sydney before Justice Cowdroy today. Such hearings are typically used to establish a future court calendar, and ZDNet Australia reports the two parties have agreed to return to court on February 6. Both sides are being represented by high-profile law firms: Herbert Geer for iiNet, and Gilbert & Tobin for the respondents.
As we foreshadowed in our original report, a key element in iiNet's defence is its longstanding commitment to making copyrighted content legally available.
"iiNet is leading the industry by making legal content available in our ever-growing Media Lounge, in association with the rights owners," a statement from the company issued just prior to the hearing noted.
Another key point of dispute is whether sufficient evidence of alleged offences was provided by the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT), which represents the rights holders. "The law currently provides a process for investigating copyright theft or any other illegal activity using the internet," iiNet's statement said. "AFACT did not use this process."
Despite that, the outcome of the case remains far from certain, with legal experts divided over how largely untested online copyright laws might be interpreted.