An Australian judge has given the world's supporters of Internet freedom reason to heave a big sigh of relief. Judge J. Cowdroy of Sydney yesterday rejected an attempt by 34 film studios to make iiNet, Australia's third largest Internet Service provider, responsible for the copyright violations of a few of their users. The critical issue was whether iiNet was responsible for infringement because it failed to take any steps to stop infringing conduct. The judge said it wasn't. Two key statements in the summary:
* “The law recognises no positive obligation on any person to protect the copyright of another.”
In an eloquent but fair rebuke to the copyright interests' ISP “responsibility” campaign, the judge concluded: “The result of this proceeding will disappoint the applicants. The evidence establishes that copyright infringement of the applicants’ films is occurring on a large scale, and I infer that such infringements are occurring worldwide. However, such fact does not necessitate or compel, and can never necessitate or compel, a finding [against the ISPs] merely because it is felt that ‘something must be done’ to stop the infringements. An ISP such as iiNet provides a legitimate communication facility which is neither intended nor designed to infringe copyright.”
A short summary of the 200-page long decision, written by the Judge in recognition of the global importance of the issue and of the need to make its reasonaing and results more accessible, is here.