4 June 2020CopyrightRory O'Neill

Australian courts hash out new site-blocking model

Australian internet service provider (ISP)  Telstra has persuaded the country’s Federal Court to modify a site-blocking injunction the ISP feared would put it at a competitive disadvantage, in a test case for Australia’s updated site-blocking regime.

Federal Court judge Stephen Burley today, June 4,  updated an injunction originally issued in April ordering multiple ISPs, including Telstra and  Vodafone, to block sites and IP addresses associated with online piracy.

The injunction was among the first under amendments to Australia’s copyright laws which gave courts greater powers in issuing site-blocking injunctions.

Under the new process, additional domains, URLs and IP addresses can be added to an already existing injunction if they provide access to the same “online location” hosting pirate content.

In the new order, Burley acknowledged that it was “routine” for ISPs to simply not participate in site-blocking proceedings brought by copyright owners.

The judge changed the wording of his order to give ISPs seven days to object to the measures, rather than 14 days to agree, as per Telstra’s suggested amendment.

The case was brought by  Roadshow, a major Australian film production company that has been  active in pursuing site-blocking orders at the courts, as well as Disney.

The terms of Burley’s order gave the ISPs 14 days to agree to any additional domains, URLs, or IP addresses being added to the injunction.

But Telstra said this put it at a disadvantage, being one of the ISPs (alongside Vodafone and Optus) which appeared during the proceedings and made submissions.

“The norm is likely to be that at least some of the [ISPs] will not consent to the inclusion of the additional avenues, which will occasion the relisting of the proceedings and additional delay and expense, which is antithetical to the purpose for the broader regime envisaged under the recent amendments,” Burley wrote.

He added: “… if one [ISP] does consent, but others do not, the consenting [ISP] may in effect be penalised, because only it will be the subject of a broader site blocking order. This could over time provide the other [ISPs] with a competitive advantage.”

Burley said the new model was a “more expeditious and less expensive” way of fulfilling the broader site-blocking regime introduced in the legislative amendments.

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14 June 2019   Australian media and entertainment corporation, the Village Roadshow Entertainment Group, has won a court order to block 76 piracy websites owned and operated by 51 entities.
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