iiNet wins copyright battle

On Friday, 20 April 2012, the High Court of Australia delivered a unanimous verdict that brought to an end a four-year legal battle between iiNet and a group of Hollywood studios (a background of the case can be found on our website).

The thirty four studios had alleged that iiNet was responsible for the conduct of customers when illegally downloading movies or TV episodes over the Internet.

iiNet does not condone piracy, we just didn’t agree with the studios’ view that it was our job to do their police work. The strong High Court decision suggests that we were on very solid ground.

One of the rights holders’ demands was that we terminate customer connections. To us that was very odd. Our role is to connect customers to the Internet, to connect customers to each other. We’re not going to remove your Internet access without having some form of independent review or legal order from the court or a law enforcement body requiring us to do so.

We’re delighted that at the end of the day the High Court’s agreed with our position that the Copyright Act, as it stands, doesn’t put a positive obligation on us to interfere with what our customers are doing online.

We’re not suggesting people should be out there downloading material illegally. We acknowledge there is a problem. Our position has been, and will continue to be, that the first step to dealing with the problem of illegal downloading and file sharing is for the studios to make the content available legally, affordably and conveniently.

For those familiar with the show, I’m a bit of a Game of Thrones tragic and it’s killing me to know that material is being made available on BitTorrent and I’m going to have to wait several weeks before I get to watch it. I’d be more than willing to pay a high price to be able to download that as soon as it gets aired in the US and I’d suggest that that’s one of the first steps that the rights holders could be able to do.

We stand ready to work with studios, artists and other rights-holders to facilitate access to their desirable content – legally.

If the government does decide that some new scheme is to be implemented, this needs to be discussed openly and transparently, not in closed door secret meetings. We need to involve consumers, not just ISPs and Hollywood. This is an important matter and we need to hear the opinions of the people.



  1. Darrin says:

    Congratulations to iinet for a well fought fight. And I agree that the film and TV companies need to realise that they need to come to the party and cater to the fact that digital entertainment is the way to go. Until that happens there will always be a problem with piracy.
    Well done iinet!

  2. David Mann says:

    Great work guys, it’s good to see that you didn’t just cave to the pressure like so many others have. You have done a great job and I agree 100% on making content available legally. Since the iTunes store and iOs devices, i have not pirated a single song as it’s easier for me to buy it now. If only the same was available for all content so we didn’t have to wait for such a long time!!

  3. John O'Driscoll says:

    In a world of copyright gone mad it’s great to see the Australian law system kept its head and put the people before the big money corporations. congrats on your victory iinet.

  4. Mal says:

    Spoken like a true warrior poet!

  5. Max says:

    Hey Mike – you need to get someone to do a iinet vs AFACT version of the Hitler clip that people have been customizing on YouTube. 😉

  6. Nathan says:

    I agree MM, especially with a fantastic TV/movie distribution like Fetch. Or even look at things like Hulu overseas or iView here (I love iView!).

    It shouldn’t be hard for the studios to make content available on-demand worldwide and it would likely mean a huge reduction in piracy.

    People don’t pirate things because they’re free, they do it because it’s convenient and available now.

    That said, price is an element, along with waiting time. Looked at the price of a movie ticket lately? $18.50 for an adult ticket. That in conjunction with the price of refreshments means I’m a TV/DVD movie man.

    Waiting for GoT is killing me, too. I’m considering asking friends in the states to tape it and send it over on disc (did you want a copy?)



  7. Steve Dalby says:

    A great result for the industry, I note from their comments following the decision, that AFACT are still locked into their old rhetoric.

    They insist that there is no commercial model that competes with ‘free’ – apparently they are unaware of iTunes, Netflix, Hulu and a host of other commercial models that are doing quite well competing with ‘free’.

    Analysts are predicting that iTunes alone will generate $13 billion in revenues in 2014.

    I think that the real point is that the pre-existing studio distribution model can’t compete with ‘free’. That is what we’ve been saying for 3 years.

    Time to focus on customers and change the model.

  8. E.A says:

    Impressive. Well done iinet!

  9. Chris Van Krevel says:

    Congratulations Iinet! Hollywood needs to realise the old way of doing business is dead. Offer a better service then the piracy groups or lose business. I certainly would not download a shoddy rip of an episode/movie, if it was made available cheap, fast, and in HDquality the moment it airs, would you?

  10. Scott says:

    Congratulations guys 😉

    Only good can come of this.

  11. Paul says:

    Yes congrats to iinet. I suspect that shortly the Government will change things the way NZ has imposed ISP to enforce the copyright breaches. I don’t believe that for a moment making cheap, fast and available content, will stop people from downloading torrents. Let’s face it, it’s the way of the future. The only reason many people are still with iinet, is they don’t pass on customer’s details to movie studios or their delegates.

  12. H. J. says:

    Congratulations on your win and THANK YOU!

  13. Nick Boyd says:

    Hey Mr. Record Man
    The joke’s on you
    Running your label
    Like it was 1992
    Hey Mr. Record Man,
    Your system can’t compete
    It’s the New Artist Model
    File transfer complete. (MC Lars, Download This Song 2006) Well done iinet!

  14. Dave says:

    Perhaps they should also stop ripping us Aussies off. The same items on iTunes more expensive here than in USA and UK etc. When people feel they are being ripped off for the same thing then the vote with their fingers and download illegally. It’s not right but that is the way it is. If Hollywood and the music companies were fair to consumers I am sure they would be fair back

  15. Paul says:

    Congrats iiNet. Hollywood seem to think that they are losing money to piracy which is completely wide of the mark. Many who pirate as opposed to purchasing are still very unlikely likely to purchase in the event that they are unable to obtain content illegally. As already said many times here, price and speed of availability are Hollywood’s main foes, especially here in Australia where we are treated like stagnant backwater.

  16. Richard says:

    Well done.

    I actually pay to pirate content! I use a premium Usenet provider and also a premium NZB service. It was quite a learning curve, and a bit of a pain to learn and get up and running.

    But I get to watch HD shows within hours of airing in the US, or watch HD movies within hours of them being released on Blu Ray in the US.

    The message to take from this is that even though it’s stealing, I AM PAYING FOR THIS STUFF.

    I’d love a service that legally gave me the access to this content at the timeframe I am accustomed to, and I WILL GLADLY PAY FOR IT.

  17. Alan Vidler says:

    If AFACT won their case against iiNet etc then surely a Bank would have a solid case against Toyota if a bank robber made his/her getaway in a Toyota vehicle.

  18. Jonathan says:

    Well done iinet – you guys have obviously done the right thing as at the end of the day if one simply gets disconnected it simply defers the piracy to another isp & forces it underground. The issue of piracy is a commercial issue & needs to provide incentive to make it attractive to not illegally download copyrighted material.

  19. Jay says:

    I think these companies need to realise that people who pirate this material dont want all their expensive to produce shows for free, they just want it, ful stop!
    Supply and demand drives the free market and they are far from yet to supply Australia with what we demand.
    And hence they are losing market.

  20. Adam Ballard says:

    What a shame such common sense took 4 years and a lot of time. Great article Michael – I look forward to iiNet becoming number 1 ISP soon.
    A very happy Customer

  21. Glenn says:

    Congrats….Good to see common sense win…pity it took 4 years …..

  22. Andy says:

    Solid effort. I’m proud to be a shareholder. I’m quite surprised that they were tried to pin accountability of customer actions on an ISP. I pay for a service, I get a service. It’s my choice how I use it. It’s my responsibility to use it legally. If I buy a sausage who says I should eat it? Maybe I don’t want to eat my sausage. Maybe Coles or Woolies should tell me what to do with my sausage?

  23. Well done iinet! Brilliant win and good outcome for all involved:)

  24. Rob says:

    Fantastic news iinet

    Hollywood and America’s music industry may have bought (and paid) their own government to implement Draconian laws against the average person but its still good to see that we have a legal system that can be both up to date and understanding and not allow our country to be bullied into bending to the will of the manic power mongers of such companies.

  25. goran says:

    Well, I do not know why the court ruled as it did but I see problems with the decision. I can now take a DVD stacker full of commercial software and a burner to a computer fair and charge for copies. Or can I? I am sure I would be arrested and prosecuted regardless of the fact the 2 scenarios seem quite similar. In effect, we have complete disarray in decisions and legislation and if someone believes that is positive, I suggest they never find themselves in a position to seek consistency and balance from the judicial system.

  26. Mike Elliott says:

    Well done iinet!
    Hollywood simply refuses to join the digital as well as acknowledging the media landscape has changed dramatically. Free To Air TV is no longer the dominant force it once was. It is about time the major studios stopped bleating and worked on their own methods of combatting piracy instead of looking for third parties to do the job for them.
    I’ve never illegally downloaded as I’m quite happy to wait for a DVD release or pay my movie rental company to stream something I want.
    You are a fantastic ISP iinet long may you thrive 🙂

  27. Clive says:

    I could never understand the studios’ case. Isn’t hitting iiNet for piracy because your customers are using you to illegally download pirated material, equivalent to hitting AusPost because they deliver packages that contain illegally pirated DVDs?

    No one [to my knowledge] has ever suggested AusPost should open and inspect every letter/parcel to ensure its contents are legal!

  28. ElTorqiro says:

    It is this kind of thing that makes iiNet stand head and shoulders above other top tier ISPs, and a major reason why I continue to support them as a customer. It’s a strong selling point for the brand in a world where more and more people are becoming interested in the concepts of net neutrality, the regulation and policing of non-corporate communications and the increasing blurring of the line between the application and responsibilities of civil and criminal law.

    Cheers for being a positive force in the debate, iiNet.

  29. Luke Quinn says:

    Congratulations iiNet and legal team; I’m glad the side of common sense and basic logic was rightly upheld for a change.

    Good on the judges for recognising the massive dangers introduced when these kinds of mega-wealthy companies gain control of a resource so precious (especially if you’re a business or student, or well… anybody) as the internet.

    I could totally go with a monthly subscription based content supply facilitated by the ISP – Bring it on!
    A service as convenient as a monthly subscription for unlimited content supplied directly from your ISP on your own home PC (especially if attached to one’s TV)would wipe Foxtel and co. off the map and force them to change their monetization strategies.
    Yay, go iiNet :)I want that service… make it happen.

  30. dean says:

    Good work Iinet, I agree with above comments. Media content should be available as soon as its released digital worldwide and offered at a fair price.

  31. Marko says:

    Well done to the little guys. A good bit of spirit shown and proven right in the end. Not often I cheer for a corporation, but yay to you!

  32. Tyrion says:

    Hollywood needs to learn, that down under,
    winter is comming.

  33. Glyn Parry says:

    That’s why we have a High Court. We’re not all criminals, but it’s a brave new world and all of us are trying to make sense of it. I love music. I bought my first vinyl record when I was 15 years old, almost 40 years ago! But I also listened to the radio for free… a lot. Then everything went into the CD format, and I followed along. I still listened to the radio for free… a lot. I can’t begin to imagine how much I’ve willingly handed over to the record companies, just grateful to have the music in an easy-to-play format. But digital and Apple changed everything! Playlists… on a device I could carry anywhere. Wow! Yes, it took a little while for the record companies to figure out what was happening and move with the times, but they got there in the end. I now buy my music online. (I haven’t bought a CD for five years.) But I do still listen to the radio for free… a lot. Hollywood needs to stop trying to beat up iinet and start embracing the future. I’d buy their movies online the same way I buy my songs now, but it’s just not there yet. Surely that’s not the fault of the consumer, if they haven’t got their act together yet. (The internet is hardly new, guys.) Hollywood could stop bullying consumers and just try talking to them. See the world from our end. And start making it seamless for us to buy next-generation, because for an ever-increasing number of us, DVD is the dodo. (I haven’t bought a DVD in the last two years.) The sooner Hollywood accepts that we’ve all moved on, the better off we’ll all be. As for the radio, I talk to a lot of kids these days, and downloading songs and pictures and movies is just like listening to the radio to them. They do it for free… a lot. It’s there, and you turn your dial, and you can find anything you want. Hollywood needs to start thinking outside the box. Let movie distribution be the new radio. Why not? Radio doesn’t kill the record industry. Why should bandwidth kill the movie industry? Anyway, that’s for the suits in Hollywood to figure out. But to iinet, and the High Court, a big thank you!

  34. Jnaos says:

    IINET should be very very PROUD of its achievement on this matter.. In simple terms your standing is simply TRUE GRIT !!!

    And I could not agree more with one of the earlier posts, it is great to see the Australian law system in full support of an Australian business doing the right thing and supporting their customers..

    IINET and the High Court of Australia should take a bow…

    With Business ethics like yours can I come and work for you ?? LOL

  35. Peter says:

    I agree with most of the comments that Hollywood have now got it wrong. If we can’t access programs, in Australia, via free to air TV, such as Game of Thrones (yes, I am a tragic too)or True Blood, and don’t want all the rubbish that comes with pay TV (at a very high price)then make programs available on a pay per episode at a fair rate & at same time released in other parts of the world. Get smart Hollywood (& others) if you want to make some $$ out of your efforts

  36. Valerie Moffat says:

    You have fought the Good Fight and the verdict, as you deserve, is correct in all aspects. As a long time (see my email address!) and very happy customer, especially with your wonderful people on the Help Desk, I have and always will be a staunch supporter and I do recommend you to others, and at times succeed in their switching to iinet.
    Well done !

  37. LukeG says:

    Congrats on the victory. I agree with the comments here re availability and convenience of online content, but have an issue with price. Why do Aussies pay 50% more for a song on itunes than US customers? In a digital world there should be price parity for content across the globe…

  38. George says:

    Thanks for standing up IInet!
    Open secret to get rich via Internet:
    1. Provide interesting content or service free of charge
    2. Get huge traffic because of 1.)
    3. Recover your investment with selling ads.
    System proved by people like Google.
    Other simple way is to first charge people for content and b) refund them for watching adds or filling a questionnaire.
    There is a lot of time for commuters to watch ads on their mobiles …
    Watch enough ads and the content becomes a free content – works fine too – piracy becomes part of the nano-world.
    Comes to my mind: The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits. (Albert Einstein)

  39. MALCOLM says:


  40. Colin Dyer says:

    Great stuff, but one thing.
    Say $7 for new release movie with say 1 week to view: no worries.
    Say $4 for a new one hour episode of a tv show, 1 week again: no worries.
    But NO MORE than $2 for stuff of any kind if it’s old. $4 is WAY too much. DVD shops – $1 for a week!

  41. Anthony says:

    Hey guys, Congrats. I used to be a copyright officer for a TV network. We used to be in debate over what and who, then too.

  42. Trish says:

    Oh WELL DONE you guys!!!
    And wow.. do you look happy 🙂
    About time someone stood up to the major players in the USA on this issue.. congratulations sticking to your guns.
    In the words of a certain Mr Sheen.. “WINNING!” 😉

  43. Sean T says:

    Great Job Guys! Awesome result and a well fought battle.

    Think there might be some deflated ego’s over at Hollywood Studio’s today and serves them right. They’re hurting because they can’t just make millions hand over fist without any effort anymore. Welcome to the real world! Offer us a value added service with global on-demand availability and the piracy problem dissappears.

    I would much rather a HD or even 3D HD version of a movie than some crappy pirated copy, and I’ll be happy to pay for it. ITunes make several hundred dollars a year from me alone, the model is there and it works. DUH!

  44. Di Barnes says:

    Big congrats. to iinet forstanding up to the “bullying” pressure from Hollywood; and to the High Court of Australia for their decision.

  45. outboard says:

    The studios (both movie and music) need to embrace bit torrent. the bit torrent sites are operating “commercially” in that the are getting enough revenue to function, and in some circumstances make a tidy profit, after all what could be more commercially viable then having your customers distributing your product for you.

  46. Ian says:

    A great result for common sense. Well done iinet!

  47. Michael says:

    Congratulations iinet and thanks for taking it on!


  48. Mike Gale says:

    Good to see this settled sensibly.

    There’s also some things that need to be rolled back.

    One of those… They’ve pulled a fast one on the world with ACTA. Looks a lot like legislation by stealth and dishonesty, and Australia is implicated.

  49. Steven says:

    Some blame must be cast to the networks and studios that air these shows. I know GOT is one of those shows rife with piracy online. A search on a torrent site brings thousands of hits. I know I have been guilty of downloading an episode or two of some of the shows I love and I can, hand on my heart, say I did not do it to get it for free. Some shows I wanted now and simply could not deal with the Autralian networks; screening US shows months after they aired in the state, sometimes out of sequence or with strange mid season breaks to fit in some “important” reality TV show. Add to this the probability that the episode will be spoiled by websites and.or aquaintances that have watched it, downloading the show makes sense.

    If new content was made available easily and immediately I would pay whatever the asking price was to have it available. Look at companies that are doing well at the moment. They all have their content or products available quickly and easily at reasonable prices.

    I wonder how much more court cases and lost revenue it will take to make the studio executives realise they are on a goldmine if they adapt to the modern world?

  50. Kimbo says:

    Here here. Job well done iinet staff and lawyers.
    Ditto on GAME OF THRONES. Can’t wait for series 2, make it available and folk will buy it, not download cheap shite.
    personally I can’t be f*****ed downloading.

  51. Stuart says:

    Wow a rare win for common sense. I love iinetts courage to stand up for not just iinett but for us their consumers, so well done guys.

  52. Gary says:

    Congratulations iinet.

    Movie studios down to humble artists have their intellectual property protected by Federal Copyright Laws.

    Whilst the studios may seem a little slow in embracing new distribution methods, its still their product and their loss/gain as to how they release it to different markets.

    Saying that if the studios released their products world wide for a limited price an individual would not have to resort to piracy, is like blaming Gucci for making their bags so limited and expensive that an individual is forced to shoplift one from David Jones.

    Whilst there are plenty of legal sites with good business models, illegal downloads represent a far more substantial amount of money that isnt being recouped by artists and studios alike , and thats what started this fight.

  53. Weggie says:

    While i agree to it being available legally i dont agree to paying a high price given that the US can watch them for free stratight away and only pay very small amount for a season pass on itunes i dont under stand why we as australian need to pay almost double it seems when we have such a good exchange we should be paying less not more

  54. Marina says:

    My question has always been, why do they not take the blank video tape/rewritable DVD/external hardrive/usb stick manufacturers to court as well? They too are ‘enabling’ piracy and have about as much control over what the consumer does with their product. The whole case was a ridiculous waste of time and resources from the beginning! Hooray: it’s over and you won 🙂

  55. Isaac H. says:

    Congrats iiNet!
    Proud to be with you guys and great to see a company standing up for its consumers and their interests.

  56. Patrick Sweeney says:

    Congratulations! Congratulations! Congratulations!
    I have ALWAYS believed that the ‘Wrong Party’ was being pursued. It seems to me that ‘AFACT’ is of the opinion that ‘Everyone Except Us Is Wrong’ and also that ‘They’ should have to prove ‘Their’ Innocence.
    What a Dumb, Stupid, Inane Notion.
    I don’t know of any ‘Civilisation’ in these recent ‘Historical Times’ that has Legislation that condones such a pathetic philosophical approach to life.
    Are you still there, Torquemada?
    Torquemada! Are you there?
    I Think Not!

  57. CWD says:

    A great outcome which reassures me that the old saying ‘the Law is an ass’ does not always hold true.
    Dare we hope that the anonymous ‘bean-counters’ who advise (control?) entertainment production firms in Hollywood and elsewhere will shortly realise that the too-high prices they desire for material (ie, inflicted NON-affordability) is a prime motivator for people to seek cheaper (ie, pirated, etc) alternatives ?
    My $64 million question is –
    When will ‘they’ wake up to the (commercial?) reality that a remarkably high percentage of people with an ‘average disposable income’ will happily pay $3 for 1 copy of a given item while the much higher prices (eg, $30) ‘they’ demand are affordable / appealing only to a distinctly smaller group of people, most of whom are blessed with an ‘ABOVE-average disposable income’ ???

    To me, it appears that the world’s entertainment industry has lost touch with / totally forgotten certain principles of marketing / retailing related to ‘volume selling’. Namely –
    High price = few buyers = poor return;
    Low price = more buyers = better turnover;
    Lowest possible price = maximum buyers = best possible profit.
    Or something along those lines – been around for 60+ years, so my memory isn’t all that it once was. But it does seem to be a wee bit better than the ‘entertainment industry gurus’ … ????

  58. Michael,

    Congratulations. The outcome of the High Court case is fantastic.

    We have been clients of iinet ever since the company acquired Wantree in the late 1990s, and even before then we were with Wantree from about 1996/97 on the old dialup modem.

    The service provided to us over the years by iinet has always been faultless, and we could not have done much of the development work we have done and still do if iinet had not been our ISP.

    I always promote iinet to people I deal with, and when I taught website development at Joondalup TAFE from 1996 to 2005, I must have promoted iinet’s services to hundreds of students.

    We intend remaining with iinet into the foreseeable future, and look forward to having access to the National Broadband Network though the company.

    Although, with the access speeds and long unbroken connections to the web that we already enjoy, I am not too certain how much better the service can possibly get.

    Kind Regards
    David Lockett

  59. Daniel says:

    This is why I paid for 3x more than I needed for a business internet connection for private use with iinet. Every dollar was well spent!
    No to censorship!
    No to restriction of access to information.

    The original model required us to be physically present to listen to a performance. This has not changed. We can only listen to a recording and it is not the same as being there. The artist always made and continues to make money through performances.

    We just no longer buy tapes or cds but hear them in digital format which advertises their performances.
    After all it is typical for the performer to make less than a dollar per cd or tape recording so absolutely nothing has changed for the artist. The internet means we no longer need recording distributors to finance cd/tape making for advertising, just internet distribution.