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Hollywood studios lose landmark download case

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SYDNEY — Top Hollywood film studios Friday failed in their attempt to stem the flow of illegal downloads when they lost a landmark appeal against an Australian Internet provider.

A group of international and Australian companies, including Warner Bros, Disney and 20th Century Fox, alleged that iiNet authorised the infringement of their copyright when its customers downloaded movies and television programmes.

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In a world-first judgement in 2010, Australia’s Federal Court ruled iiNet did not authorise the downloads or have the power to stop them, thwarting the studios’ attempt to staunch losses they say run into billions of dollars.

The Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT), made up of 34 film, television and music companies, appealed, claiming it set a dangerous precedent that allowed Internet companies to ignore copyright theft.

But in a serious blow to their fight against piracy it was thrown out by Australia’s highest court Friday.

“The High Court held that the respondent, an Internet service provider (ISP), had not authorised the infringement by its customers of the appellants’ copyright in commercially released films and television programmes,” the unanimous ruling said.

It added that iiNet had no direct technical power to prevent its customers from using the BitTorrent file sharing system to infringe copyright, by downloading content to watch on their laptops and PCs.

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“Rather, the extent of iiNet’s power to prevent its customers from infringing… copyright was limited to an indirect power to terminate its contractual relationship with its customers,” the court said.

The case was seen as an ambitious attempt to force ISPs to act against piracy.

It hinged on thousands of downloads over the Perth-based iiNet network over 59 weeks from June 2008 involving nearly 90 films and TV series including “Batman Begins”, “Transformers” and “Heroes”.

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The movie studios had hoped to set a worldwide precedent forcing ISPs to act against offenders, while Internet rights groups feared it would compel the firms to cut customers’ web access without having to take them to court.

AFACT managing director Neil Gane said the judgement exposed the failure of copyright law to keep pace with the online environment.

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“Both judgements in this case recognise that copyright law is no longer equipped to deal with the rate of technological change we have seen since the law of authorisation was last tested,” he said.

Gane added that the global film and television industry, represented by the Los Angeles-based Motion Picture Association, was pursuing other avenues including targeting the software developers behind BitTorrent technology.

iiNet chief executive Michael Malone said the best way for the film industry to protect copyright was to boost the availability of lawful, online content in a more timely and affordable way.

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He added that there was strong evidence that content partnerships and agreements between ISPs, legal websites and copyright holders was the best way to reduce piracy, rather than costly legal battles.

“Increasing the availability of licensed digital content is the best, most practical approach to meet consumer demand and protect copyright,” Malone said.

“We have consistently said we are eager to work with the studios to make their very desirable material legitimately available to a waiting customer base and that offer remains the same today.”


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Scientists alarmed as first ever nest of giant ‘murder hornets’ is found in the United States

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After months of meticulous tracking, authorities in the western US state of Washington on Friday said they had uncovered the first ever nest of the deadly Asian giant hornet in the country.

The nest was found on Thursday by Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) entomologists on a property in Blaine, near the border with Canada, the agency said in a statement.

It added that an attempt to eradicate the nest of wasps -- the world's largest hornet species also known as the "murder hornet" -- would take place on Saturday.

"The successful detection of a nest comes after a WSDA trapper collected two live Asian giant hornets on October 21 (Wednesday), caught in a new type of trap the agency had placed in the area," the statement said.

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2020 Election

Mormons fed up with Trump’s vulgar rhetoric and behavior are flocking to the Democratic Party

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Mormons in the United States have traditionally been reliable Republican voters, but some members of the conservative church put off by President Donald Trump are switching sides and backing veteran Democrat Joe Biden.

Support for Trump among members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which emphasizes family values and morals, is especially lagging among women.

Experts say that could have a significant impact in some key battleground states -- notably Arizona and Nevada, where Mormons represent six percent of the population.

"There are things about Biden that I don't agree with, but I think it's more important not to vote for Trump," said Melarie Wheat, a 36-year-old mother of five who lives in the western state of Utah, where the LDS Church is headquartered.

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‘Nuts!’ The Lincoln Project mocks Jared and Ivanka for their ‘comical’ threat to sue over Times Square billboards

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The Lincoln Project on Friday night fired back at White House advisors Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump for threatening to sue over billboards in Times Square attacking their response to the coronavirus crisis.

The ads show the couple smiling alongside coronavirus death tolls for New Yorkers and Americans.

https://twitter.com/ProjectLincoln/status/1319294071513346053?s=20

Kushner and Trump's attorney, Marc Kasowitz, on Friday sent a letter to the Lincoln Project warning that the billboards were defamatory. “Those ads show Ms. Trump smiling and gesturing toward a death count of Americans and New Yorkers, and attribute to Mr. Kushner the statement that “[New Yorkers] are going to suffer and that’s their problem” (alteration in original), with body bags underneath,” the letter read.

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