Australian Federal Court extends piracy site blocking order, revises targeted site list

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Internet service providers in Australia are required to block the new domains for three years; in a revised ruling handed down by the country’s Federal Court at the end of September.  This followed requests by Village Roadshow, Roadshow Films, Disney Enterprises and others, aimed at Australian communications providers Telstra, Pacnet Internet, Pacnet Services, TPG Internet, IINet Ltd and others.

An updated list of infringing Web sites was provided in the appendices of the revised order, which may be accessed from the link to the court order (below). A searchable database of Web sites is provided by the ABC article (also below).  Some Web sites were added and some which were in previous lists were removed.

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Internet carriage providers are obligated to block access to domain names, URLs and IP addresses; and for search engine providers to disable search results that include the domain names, URLs and IP addresses.

“This is all about blocking sites, it’s not about going after those downloading the films,” said Andrew Christie, a copyright law expert; reported by ABC.  “It’s too difficult to go after individual downloaders and what [copyright owners] really want is to deal with this problem upstream,” he said.

A copyright violation must occur within six weeks of the notification to an ISP by a rights-holder, and the online provider has seven days to respond once notified.  Respondents have seven days to object to the blocking request and ask for a hearing.

Further reading

Roadshow Films Pty Limited v Telstra Corporation Limited (Extension of Orders) [2023] FCA 1167. Judgment. September 29, 2023. Federal Court of Australia

Federal Court grants injunctions against online piracy requested by Foxtel and Disney. Article. September 28, 2023. Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)

Why it matters

Site blocking orders are a widely accepted method of reducing piracy.  In some countries, it’s by court order, as in this case.  Other countries have passed regulation through parliamentary / congressional action; particularly in South Asia and recently in Italy where ISPs now have 30 minutes to put blocking orders in effect upon notification.

The US Patent & Trademark Office has been running an initiative to collect input toward updating anti-piracy processes in the United States.  59 submissions were made during the comment period, which closed in September.  Many of the commenters have been adamant about strengthening site blocking processes.

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