Australian Internet Linking Sites Ruled Illegal

(CelebrityAccess MediaWire) —

The Federal Court of Australia ruled that Stephen Cooper, the operator of the website www.mp3s4free.net, was liable for authorizing copyright infringement by linking to infringing music files on the Internet. Justice Brian Tamberlin found that

"Cooper has permitted or approved, and thereby authorized, the copyright infringement by Internet users who access his website and also by the owners or operators of the remote websites from which the infringing recordings were downloaded."

The court found that disclaimers on the website did not "amount to reasonable steps to prevent or avoid" the infringements and that "Cooper had sufficient control of his own website to take steps to prevent the infringement."

In the first ruling of its kind, the Court also held that the ISP that hosted the website was liable for infringing copyright. Justice Tamberlin ruled that the ISP was

"responsible for hosting the website and providing the necessary connection to the internet and therefore had the power to prevent the doing of the infringing acts. They could have taken the step of taking down the website. Instead, they took no steps to prevent the acts of infringement."

The ISP did not have a defense under recent amendments introduced under the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement because it had not taken any steps to implement an appropriate policy against infringement and had received a financial benefit in the form of free advertising on the website.

The director and a technical officer of the ISP were also held personally liable for the infringements because they were involved in and aware of problems with the operations of the website but decided not to further investigate or take any action in relation to it.

General Manager of Music Industry Piracy Investigations, Michael Kerin, said,

"This is a very strong decision against Internet piracy in Australia and exposes the liability for ISPs when they choose to involve themselves in profiting from music piracy."m –Jane Cohen and Bob Grossweiner

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