Australian ISP Liability Under Review

Mere weeks after the sentencing of the three operators of an MP3 download website (who escaped jail time), the Australia Record Industry Association (ARIA) has launched another action - this time against directors and employees of Com-Cen, an Australian ISP.

The ISP is alleged to have breached copyright by hosting (though not operating) a similar MP3 download site called mp3s4free.net. Based on the sketchy information available, the alleged breach lies in placing a link to a site at which infringing materials were made available by the site operator, one Stephen Cooper, to third parties. In other words, a hyperlink much like this one was probably placed on the ISP's member list page, similar to Melbourne University's student homepage list, and the linked material was infringing.

ISPs should not be overly concerned by this suit, which is ultimately little more than an optimistic test case. I would be very surprised if the plaintiffs were to succeed, for four reasons.