On August 14, 1997, the High Court of Australia handed down a decision that is unique among copyright cases throughout the world. In Telstra Corp. v. Australasian Performing Right Association, Telstra, a telecommunications service provider, was sued by the Australasian Performing Right Association (hereinafter "APRA") for infringing musical copyrights owned by APRA and its clients. The High Court held that Telstra was liable for copyright infringement when Telstra allowed its business customers to place their callers on hold to the sounds of unlicensed music. This was the first time that the highest court of a nation has held a service provider liable for copyright infringement simply because the offending material was disseminated over its network.
Daniel G. Asmus, Service Provider Liability: Australian High Court Gives the World a First-Should the United States Follow Suit?, 17 Penn St. Int'l L. Rev. 189 (1998).