Exetel stops disconnecting pirates

Exetel will stop blocking customer accounts linked to copyright infringement as a result of last week's failed lawsuit against Internet Service Provider (ISP) iiNet.

After five years, the company will by the end of the month stop blocking accounts of customers accused of copyright breaches by organisations such as The Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT).

In a letter to customers, the ISP said it would still forward infringement notifications but would no longer require users to confirm or deny the infringement before re-activating accounts.

“Following the current court ruling by Justice Cowdroy in the Federal Court last Thursday we will modify this practice in the near future,” Exetel said.

“We will continue to send any infringement notice we receive in the future but before the end of February we will not require the user to acknowledge receipt of it nor will we temporarily block the customer's Internet access.

“We will continue to send the infringement notices because we believe it's in the best interests of the person who pays for the Internet service to know what other entities believe the service is being used for.”

In a move welcomed by the ISP industry, Justice Cowdroy, dismissed a case by AFACT against iiNet, finding the ISP had not facilitated copyright infringement by its customers.

Exetel account holders will now only receive the notification letter:

“Dear [ ],

A copyright infringement notice has been sent to Exetel that states that your Exetel IP (internet connection) has been used to acquire material the breaches copyright.

You do not need to take any action except to be aware that, if you or some member of your household are in fact using your internet connection to infringe another party's copyright, they have been able to detect that action and could, at some time in the future should they wish to do so, involve themselves in the legal and other costs of taking some action against you.

Again, you are not required to take any action regarding this infringement notice and it is sent to you as a courtesy in case usage of the internet connection in your name is being used in ways unknown to you.

Exetel Provisioning”

Exetel managing director John Linton said earlier in his blog the ISP would consider reviewing the notification process in accordance with legal advice.

“Exetel is still a small company that can't afford the ($4 million) or so the AFACT court case has cost iiNet of which, at best, they will get back 70 percent,” Linton said.

“Our legal advice, before the current court case, was to forward the notices, get a denial and therefore be in a position to say that we complied with the copyright holder's request but could do nothing further.”

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd earlier shied away from committing to legislative change to copyright enforcement in the wake of the AFACT v iiNet decision at the Federal Court of Australia last week, following questions on ABC's QA program.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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