In Australia, internet service providers do not have to take action against potential copyright infringers,  appellate judges have decided. In Roadshow Films Pty Limited v iiNet Limited, the Australian Federal Court dismissed an appeal from a movie studio stating that ISPs must take an active role in identifying copyright infringers using file-sharing technology such as BitTorrent.

A company was hired to look for potential BitTorrent infringers. The company compiled a list of IP addresses of users from iiNet. The company then requested that iiNet provide the individuals’ identities. iiNet replied that they could not identify the people based on information provided by the company. A lawsuit followed, asserting that iiNet was part of the copyright infringement because it did not take steps to stop it. The complaint alleged that iiNet’s users were infringing on copyrights and that iiNet was authorizing this infringement.

The issues that the court considered were whether an iiNet user infringed on a copyright by putting the film online, whether the film was transmitted electronically to the public by an iiNet user, and whether iiNet authorized these actions. The court held that iiNet users did infringe on copyrights; that only one infringement occurs per user, because peer-to-peer software is an ongoing series of transmissions. The court also held that iiNet did not authorize its users to infringe on copyrights because it neither had the power to prevent the infringement nor did it provide the means for it. The court considered what Australian copyright says both on the needed preconditions to infringement and the provision of the means to do so.  Access to the internet granted by iiNet was a necessary precondition to the infringement by users. But it was the users, not the company, who provided the actual means of infringement, using the BitTorrent peer-to-peer software.

For a more detailed analysis, see the ArsTechnica article.