Safe Harbor & Authorization Liability: Australia’s Options to Reduce Piracy


Safe Harbor & Authorization Liability: Australia’s Options to Reduce Piracy

When tackling direct infringers becomes impractical, rightsholders can take legal action against entities that are indirectly involved. Intermediaries and service providers are obvious targets but tend to enjoy protection under so-called ‘safe harbor’ provisions. In Australia, digital platforms want these protections too, claiming they will boost anti-piracy cooperation. Rightsholders believe that cooperation is directly linked to a credible threat of liability.

pirate duckBeing held responsible for the actions of others can seem fundamentally unfair but when the internet is involved, liability is rarely more than a step away.

In 2008, consuming pirated movies and TV shows using BitTorrent was practically the norm in Australia and rightsholders had seen enough. Movie and TV show companies, including Village Roadshow, Universal, Warner, Paramount, Sony, 20th Century Fox, and Disney, sent copyright infringement notices to internet service provider iiNet, demanding action against its pirating subscribers.

Citing various grounds, iiNet refused. The studios responded with a lawsuit that made global headlines while raising key questions on big issues.

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