Australian ISP’s could soon disconnect file sharers

Similar to high-profile cases in the U.S., U.K. and France, there is a growing likelihood Australian ISPs will have to boot peer-to-peer file sharers off of the Internet.

Australian ISP iiNet hasn’t taken “reasonable steps” to prevent copyright infringement, according to copyright groups, and peer-to-peer file sharing has drastically increased in popularity.  iiNet said it warns subscribers against committing copyright infringement, but the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) said subscribers routinely ignore the warnings.

The Australian government will likely need to address copyright issues and how ISPs will deal with similar cases, as both the copyright groups and ISPs want clear rules.  Whoever loses this case at the end of the week will likely appeal the ruling, which will drag this legal case out through most of 2010.

The ruling is expected on Thursday or Friday.

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The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has left behind a John Doe lawsuit campaign in favor of pressuring U.S. ISPs to boot file sharers offline.  Forcing ISPs to police their own users allows the RIAA to get rid of even more file sharers while the ISPs do most of the grunt work.

The U.S., U.K., France, Australia, Germany, and other nations are working to try and better protect copyrighted works from online piracy.  France has enacted a three-strike policy, while other countries consider similar anti-piracy measures.  A U.S. three-strikes law is no where in sight, but some ISP’s, such as Verizon, are booting some subscribers anyway.

In general, an ISP does not want to turn over subscriber information without a court warrant, as it opens the company up to major lawsuits over privacy issues.  iiNet has defended itself by saying it could violate consumer information rights if it were to turn over subscriber info — or terminate service — unless ordered to do so by a legal authority.

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