How using a DNS renders the Online Infringement Bill useless

Bypassing the government’s website-blocking regime is as simple as changing your DNS settings.

The passing of the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015 caused quite a stir. For some, it was a sad end to Australia’s only way around our murky backwater media landscape, and for others it was simply a waste of government time and funds. Why? Because, as anyone who recognises the acronyms VPN (Virtual Private Network) and DNS (Domain Name System) knows, the website-blocking bill did little to stop Australians from accessing the websites they wanted to.

Despite giving copyright holders the ability to obtain a court order blocking websites that provide illegitimate access to their content (such as torrenting websites and other hubs of pirated content), the way the bill enables this is inherently flawed. If a court order is granted, Australian Internet Service Providers (ISPs) must prevent their customers from accessing the infringing websites by blocking the relevant domain names. For example, if a user tried to access notorious torrent website The Pirate Bay, an ISP would present that user with an error message instead.

What is a DNS?

The problem here is that this government-imposed block can be easily bypassed by changing the DNS settings on your device so your ISP can't detect what website you're trying to access. This practice may not be familiar to most Australian Internet users, but it's one that is easily learned and can be completed in under 60 seconds.

If you don't know how to change your settings, follow the steps that we've provided for the following popular devices and operating systems:

What is a DNS?

Domain Name Servers (DNS) provide a directory for the Internet that holds domain names (eg finder.com.au) and translates them to Internet Protocol (IP addresses). We use domain names, like google.com or facebook.com, because they are easy for users to remember but what your computer actually accesses when visiting your favourite sites is an IP address.

Behind the scenes, a DNS operates kind of like a phonebook, by matching domain names with their associated IP address. When you type a URL into the address bar, the computer makes contact with your DNS server and requests the IP address associated with that website, allowing your computer to retrieve the IP address and display the website in your web-browser.

Generally, we use default DNS servers supplied by our chosen ISP but there are other options such as OpenDNS and Google DNS. Depending on server location, changing your DNS can either slow down or speed up your Internet connection. You can even filter out unsavoury content by using a DNS.

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How do I use an alternate DNS?

You will need to manually change the DNS in the network settings on your device. We have guides on how to change your DNS settings on every device, but first, let’s take a look at the two most popular alternate DNS services.

Google DNS: The Internet giant that keeps on giving, Google, has its very own DNS service that’s proven popular thanks to its speeds, performance and uncompromised security. You can use Google DNS right now by entering the primary and secondary DNS below:

  • Primary: 8.8.8.8
  • Secondary: 8.8.4.4

OpenDNS: OpenDNS is the most popular DNS in the United States. Based in San Francisco, this tech company provides the best service for organisations, like schools that are looking to effectively filter their content and prevent unintended access to inappropriate website or damaging malware. You can use OpenDNS today by entering the DNS values below:

  • Primary: 208.67.222.222
  • Secondary: 208.67.222.220
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How to change DNS settings on...

iPhone and iPad

  1. Open the Settings app
  2. Select Wi-Fi
  3. Locate the Wi-Fi connection you’re currently using
  4. Tap the tap-icon button
  5. Scroll down to the DNS field dns-field
  6. Enter an alternate DNS (e.g. Google’s Public DNS: 8.8.8.8)
  7. Tap tap-wifi-icon

Android

  1. Select Settings
  2. Under Wireless and Networks select Wi-Fi (the word Wi-Fi, not the on/off switch)
  3. Press and hold your current or preferred wireless network. A dialogue box will appear.
  4. Tap Modify Network
  5. Check the Show Advanced Options box
  6. Select Static for IP Settings
  7. Leave the IP address, Gateway and Network as they already are
  8. Enter the DNS server you would like to use into the appropriate fields (DNS 1 and DNS 2)
  9. Press Save

Mac OS X

  1. Open System Preferences
  2. Select mac-os-network-icon
  3. Ensure that you’re connected to the Wi-Fi network that you would like to adjust the DNS settings for.
  4. Click mac-os-x-advanced-settings-button
  5. Select the DNS tab towards the top of the window. mac-os-x-dns-tab
  6. Press the mac-os-x-add-dns-button button under 'DNS servers'.
  7. Add the DNS server that you would like to use.
  8. Press OK, then Apply on the next screen.

Windows 8

  1. Move the mouse to the bottom or top-right corner of the screen.
  2. Click on the cog to access the Settings menu. windows8-settings-icon
  3. Select the Control Panel tab.
  4. Select Network and Sharing Centre.
  5. Select Change Adapter settings on the left of the screen.
  6. Right-click on your current or preferred Wi-Fi network.
  7. Select Properties.
  8. Check Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCIP/IPv4) in the dialogue box.
  9. Select the Properties.
  10. Check Use the following DNS server to enable changes to the DNS server
  11. Enter your desired DNS server into Preferred DNS server and a secondary DNS in Alternate DNS server.
  12. Select OK (this will save your settings)

Wii U

  1. Access the Wii U menu
  2. Select System Settings wii-u-network-settings-icon
  3. Navigate to the Internet icon using the left stick and press the A button. wii-u-internet-icon
  4. Press the X button or tap Connections in the top right corner.
  5. Select the current or preferred Wi-Fi network you would like to configure.
  6. Select Change Settings.
  7. Select the arrow on the right and tap DNS.
  8. Select Don’t Auto-Obtain.
  9. Enter your desired Primary DNS and Secondary DNS servers in their appropriate fields.
  10. Select Confirm.
  11. Be sure to select Save before exiting

PS4

  1. On the PS4 home screen, select Settings.ps4-settings-icon
  2. Select Network ps4-select-network-icon
  3. Select Setup Internet Connection
  4. Select Wi-Fi
  5. Select Custom, then IP Address Settings (Automatic).
  6. Select DHCP Host Name (Do Not Use), then DNS Settings(Manual)
  7. Enter your desired Primary DNS and Secondary DNS
  8. Hit Next, then MTU Settings (Automatic), Proxy Server (Do Not Use)

Xbox One

  1. From the homescreen, visit Settings.xbox-one-settings-icon
  2. Select Network
  3. Select Advanced Settings
  4. Select DNS Settings
  5. Select Manual
  6. Enter the Primary DNS and Secondary DNS into the appropriate fields

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Brodie Fogg

Brodie is the Assistant Publisher at finder.com.au for everything tech and telco. When he's not drooling over the latest comic book releases or grinding away at the newest time-devouring RPG, he's helping people choose between Australia's streaming services, suggesting better broadband plans or comparing the latest mobile plans.

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