COPYRIGHT
Record Labels, Internet

An Australian man and his website has been found guilty of copyright infringement by providing links to infringing websites. Stephan Cooper’s Site “MP3sfor3.net” linked to sites which were offering copy written works for free. Federal Justice Brian Tamberlin ruled that although Cooper didn’t host pirated recordings per se, the court found the resident of the state of Queensland breached the law by creating hyperlinks to sites that had infringing sound recordings. This is the first such judgment against hyperlinking in Australia. Tamberlin found against all other respondents in the case, namely Internet service provider Comcen; Comcen employee Chris Takoushis; Comcen parent company E-Talk Communications; and Comcen and E-Talk director Liam Bal. In October 2003, the applicants, record companies, which included Universal Music, Sony, Warner and EMI, alleged that Cooper cooperated with Bal and Takoushis to increase traffic to the ISP and boost advertising revenue. Subsequently, the court was told Cooper was unaware he may have infringed copyright law, while E-Talk and Comcen asserted that it didn’t know of Cooper’s actions. Judge Tamberlin said: “I am satisfied there has been infringement of copyright and ordered costs against the respondents.

Music Industry Piracy Investigations (The Australian trade association investigative body for record labels) COMMENT:
The Federal Court of Australia has ruled that Stephen Cooper, the operator of the website www.mp3s4free.net, was liable for authorising 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 defence 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.