Australian Federal Court orders ISPs to block copyright infringing sites

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Saturday, December 17, 2016

On Thursday, the Australian Federal Court ordered Internet service providers to block websites which infringe copyright. The court required five websites be blocked — Pirate Bay, Torrentz, isoHunt, Torrenthound, and SolarMovie.

The Melbourne Federal Court building, from file.
Image: Adz.

In the first case of site blocking under new Australian legislation, the court asked the companies to block access to these websites within fifteen business days. The ISPs are free to choose the method of blocking; options include DNS blocking, blocking IP addresses and URL blocking.

The court has asked the copyright holders to pay up to A$50 to the ISPs for each domain to be blocked. After successful blocking of these websites they are to be replaced by a landing page showing an "access denied" message as well as a notice the website "infringes or facilitates the infringement of copyright."

Peter Tonagh, the chief executive of copyright holders Foxtel said, "This judgment is a major step in both directly combating piracy and educating the public that accessing content through these sites is not OK, in fact it is theft".

Graham Bruke, co-executive of the other copyright holder in the case, Village Roadshow, in October called people who pirate the copyrighted material "leeches and thieves" and compared them to heroin sellers. Foxtel and Village Roadshow plan to block over 50 websites.

The operators of SolarMovie and the torrent websites did not attend the court hearing.

Various Linux distributions like Debian, Ubuntu and OpenSUSE allow users to download the freely licensed operating system through torrents.

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