Fri, Nov 28 2008 1:13 PM aheram

Entertainment Industry Declares War on Australian ISP

Thirty-four of the biggest names in the entertainment industry has declared war on Australia's third-largest internet service provider (ISP) iiNet in a suit that claims that the broadband provider is partly responsible for its users' breach of copyright laws:

Australia's biggest film and television companies have ignited a long-simmering war with the internet sector, lodging a lawsuit against Perth-based broadband provider iiNet seeking damages that could run into millions of dollars.

The group, which includes Warner Brother, Sony Pictures, Disney and the Seven Network, has also left open its options of taking further legal action against the counttry's big two broadband players, Telstra and Optus.

The broad aim of the action is to stop internet users from using high-speed connections to swap digital versions of Hollywood films like American Gangster and Mama Mia! as well as and popular television shows such as Heroes and Two and a Half Men. These actions breach copyright regulations.

Operating under the banner of Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT), this consortium of various entertainment heavy-weights are not ruling out taking action against Telstra and Optus, Australia's first and second largest ISPs. Considered a test case by many, the suit is but part of a series of actions taken by AFACT against smaller ISPs. Several small internet carriers have reported receiving aggressive cease-and-desist letters.

"It is unfortunate that the rights holders are targeting an ISP because under Australian law, internet service providers may generally be considered conduits which provide carriage services, and as such are not responsible for copyright infringements carried out by customers using their internet service," a spokesperson for Optus said.

AFACT and its members are expecting the ISPs to carry out its copyright enforcement and are now utilizing the state apparatus to coerce the companies into complying.

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