Big Movie Studios Lose Copyright Suit Against Australian ISP


While content companies certainly aren’t happy about the amount of pirated content flowing over the internet, suing U.S. internet service providers for piracy is practically impossible. That’s because as long as they follow certain rules, ISPs have a “safe harbor” from copyright lawsuits under U.S. law. That kind of protection doesn’t exist everywhere, and the studios were pushing hard to hold ISPs responsible for users’ copyright infringement in Australia, and filed suit against one called iiNet. But a ruling out of an Australian appeals court today upheld a court win by iiNet, according to a report from Bloomberg.

The studios, which include Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) Paramount Pictures, 20th Century Fox, and 30 other entities, can still appeal their loss to Australia’s High Court.

The Australian court found that even though iiNet was dismissive towards the studios’ infringement complaints, that doesn’t mean the ISP actually encouraged infringement.

The entertainment industry has pushed for ISPs to crack down harder on copyright infringing users in many countries; in some of those countries, such as France, it’s managed to have a “three strikes” regime installed that identifies users that engage in piracy and terminates their internet access.

It looks like in Australia, at least, there won’t be any way for the entertainment industry to get ISPs on the hook for internet piracy. The judge left the door open to future lawsuits but suggests that they would only succeed in cases where the ISP “authorized primary acts of infringement.” It’s hard to imagine a case like that exists.

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