Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I've just received a copyright infringement notice from my ISP. What does this mean? Will I be sued?


I've just received a copyright infringement notice from my ISP. What does this mean? Will I be sued?

Internet service providers (ISPs) are required to establish a system for informing their users when a copyright owner has lodged an infringement complaint. What this notice means is that a copyright holder is alleging that you have infringed their copyright in some way. Your ISP is simply passing on the message here and does so to attempt to protect its legal position under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth).

What does this mean in reality? Well, anecdotal evidence suggests nothing certain. Assuming the notice that you received from ISP does not allege the distribution of copyrighted material on a commercial scale or for profit, there is no immediate legal consequence that flows from a notice of this kind. An ISP may take the decision to terminate your Internet account, but this power is more likely to flow from the terms of your contract with the ISP (and is more likely to occur after numerous warnings).

While some may take comfort from the knowledge that large corporate copyright holders have not (as a general rule) perused a strategy of suing individuals in Australia (as has been the case in the United States) there is nothing that prevents a copyright holder from suing someone in a civil action in the future. Consider that a criminal prosecution for circumventing a technological protection measure (such as breaking the copy protection on a computer game to play a copy of it without the CD or DVD) is also possible.

As always, your best strategy is to seek legal advice specific to your situation.


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