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Hollywood Studios Lose Australian Internet Piracy Case

Some of Hollywood’s biggest film studios have failed in an attempt to stem the flow of illegal video downloads when they lost a landmark appeal against an Australian Internet provider. A group of international and Australian companies alleged that Perth-based iiNet authorized the infringement of their copyright when its customers downloaded movies and television programs. Their claims have been dismissed by Australia’s High Court.

Case against piracy

The case brought by 34 American and Australian film, television and music companies, including Warner Bros, Disney and 20th Century Fox, was seen as an ambitious attempt to force Internet service providers to act against piracy.

The entertainment industry claimed that iiNet, Australia’s third-largest ISP, should be punished for illegal video downloads made by its customers. In 2010, Australia’s Federal Court said companies like iiNet could not be held accountable for Internet piracy.

The 2010 ruling marked the first time a court had ruled on whether an ISP could be held responsible for copyright violations by its users.

Appeal thrown out by high court

But the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft insisted the judgment set a dangerous precedent that allowed ISPs to ignore the widespread plundering of online material. Its appeal has been thrown out by Australia's highest court but its managing director, Neil Gane, hopes that tougher anti-piracy laws will soon follow.

“We are disappointed by today's decision. You know the judges in the High Court have, you know, unanimously recognized that legislative change is now required to deal with the widespread copyright infringements that are occurring across Australian networks," said Gane.

Film industry to pursue other methods

The global film and television industry says it is now pursuing other avenues, including targeting software developers who help Internet users watch illegally downloaded videos.

Michael Malone, the chief executive of iiNet, insists that the best way to protect copyright is to ensure that lawful, online content is cheaper and made available far more quickly.