Australian telcos forced to block piracy sites

Posted: 19 August 2017 8:30 am

The Lego Movie Large

Court-ordered crackdown on pirate websites underway.

A Federal Court ruling has declared that Australia's leading telecommunications companies must take "reasonable steps" to thwart customers accessing websites and domains used to illegally download movies, television shows and other materials.

The court proceedings were brought by production and financier film company Village Roadshow Pictures.

On Friday, Federal Court Justice John Nicholas ordered Aussie Internet service providers (ISPs), including Telstra, Optus, TPG and Vocus, to block customer access to 57 international websites such as The Pirate Bay, Putlocker and Yes Movies.

Other sites outlined in the ruling include Vumoo, Los Movies, Cartoon HD, Project - Free TV, The Dare TV, Torlock, watchfree, TorrentProject and more.

“In respect of all the online locations, the evidence establishes that each of those locations has facilitated infringement of copyright in one or more of the Roadshow Films,” Justice Nicholas said.

The court also requires the telcos to establish and maintain a warning page, informing customers attempting to access blocked sites that their access has been denied because the web address infringes or facilitates the infringement of copyright.

In June 2015, the Australian Senate passed legislation allowing content rights holders to block sites which contain pirated content or help facilitate online piracy.

However, solving the problem of piracy in Australia is unlikely to be settled by blocking websites.

The counter argument is that if the content was available at an affordable price, Australians would be willing to pay. This is evident in the rapid uptake of streaming services like Netflix and Stan, where consumers pay for content legally. Still, you're unlikely to find the latest Hollywood blockbuster releases as part of their offerings.

Even with site-blocking legislation, Australians will likely still be able to access pirated content. For example, once a site such as The Pirate Bay is blocked, several new sites immediately appear that mirror the content of the blocked site. While pirates can move quickly to restore access to blocked websites, ISPs and the courts have to go through lengthy processes, potentially taking weeks or months, to approve new website blocks.

Find out exactly why the government's site blocking scheme and costly court proceedings won't work.

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