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Landmark Australian ruling delights British ISPs

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As the Australian government states that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) cannot be held liable for the downloaded material of their users, British ISPs have rejoiced in the hope that such laws will be upheld in this country’s courts.

Perth-based ISP iiNet was harassed by some of Hollywood’s biggest film companies in recent years, including Universal and Sony, but an eight-week trial in front of Sydney’s Federal Court has deemed it unnecessary for ISPs to police their users.

And this week a number of British ISPs have voiced their “delight” at the verdict, claiming that “basic consumer rights” have been upheld and that the Digital Economy Bill should take note.

Expected later this year, the Digital Economy Bill will attempt to slash widespread internet piracy amongst UK residents. But the Australian ruling will have dented plans to impose liability on ISPs and could safeguard consumers from exposing sensitive internet usage to unwanted eyes.

The Bill, currently working its way through parliament, has argued that ISPs should be charged with cutting-off persistent downloaders from the internet whilst giving the Business Secretary, currently Lord Mandelson, sweeping rights to change copyright laws when needed.

“We hope parliamentarians see sense and do not pass the digital economy bill without changes to protect consumer and human rights,” a spokesman from TalkTalk said.

The ruling, a first of its kind, claimed that enforcing policing would make ISPs “responsible for the acts of their customers. Essentially they become this giant and very cheap mechanism for anyone with any sort of legal claim”.

The government’s response to the overseas judgement will become apparent when the Digital Economy Bill is published in April.

Written by Andrew Hodges

February 8, 2010 at 6:34 pm

Posted in Comment, LinkedIn

Tagged with , ,

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