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Optus hit with $13m smut bill

Web pornmonger demands unpaid commission

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Australian telecoms monolith Optus has been hit with a AU$17m ($13m) bill for unpaid commissions to its former partner in the international net smut trade, the Australian reports.

Optus was recently outed as the middleman between porn consumers in the US and Europe and Gibraltar-based pornmonger Gilsan. To access web smut - originating in Vanuatu - punters paid a cool $4 per minute in calls to Telecom Vanuatu. Optus got a cut of this and in turn paid a commission to Gilsan based on the minutes the latter's customers were on the line to Vanuatu.

In September a court heard that Optus underreported this total in 2001. Gilsan's lawyers were back before the judge this week to demand between $9m and $13m, although Optus is reportedly expecting to pay somewhat less than this in settlement.

Another embarassing aspect of the case for Optus is the revelation that it hosted some of Gilsan's content on servers in Australia. For its part, Gilsan admits it owes Optus AU$800,000 in unpaid hosting bills.

The total income from the operation - shared between Gilsan, Optus, AT&T and Greek operator Pan Hellenic - is said to be $100m. Optus declined to say how much it had made from the trade in hard-core pornography. ®

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