Aust. ISP sued for not disconnecting pirates

Australian ISP iiNet has announced that it will "vigorously defend" itself in court against a  consortium of film and television studios accusing the company of encouraging piracy.

In what could become a pivotal test-case, a consortium including Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Bros, Sony Pictures, Disney and Australia's Seven Network has lodged a suit against iiNet in Australia's federal court, seeking unspecified damages.

The company alleges that iiNet is encouraging piracy by failing to disconnect iiNet users alleged to have swapped movies via bittorrent after repeated requests to do so.

The consortium's Australian copyright enforcement arm, the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft, [AFACT] claims to have completed a five-month bittorrent sweep, turning up thousands of cases of iiNet subscribers conducting illegal file-sharing.  

"iiNet refused to address this illegal behaviour and did nothing to prevent the continuation of the infringements by the same customers," AFACT executive director Adrianne Pecotic said.

"iiNet has an obligation under the law to take steps to prevent further known copyright infringement via its network."

iiNet CEO Michael Malone said the company had forwarded the studios' complaints to law enforcement agencies, and that it would not act on allegations.

"iiNet cannot disconnect a customer's phone line based on an allegation," he said. "The alleged offence needs to be pursued by the police and proven in courts. iiNet would then be able to disconnect the service as it had been proven that the customer had breached our Customer Relations Agreement."

Malone strongly denied the allegation that iiNet supports or encourages breaches of the law.

The case is due before the court on December 17. 

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