New laws allow copyright owners to apply to federal court to force internet service providers to block access to sites...
Village Roadshow and Foxtel are filing lawsuits seeking to block piracy-related websites in Australia, according to reports confirmed by Foxtel and the federal court.
ABC reported the suits would be filed on Thursday in the federal court using laws passed in June to combat piracy.
The laws allow copyright owners to apply to the court to force internet service providers to block access to websites that facilitate or are intended to infringe copyright.
A Foxtel spokesman told Guardian Australia: “Foxtel intends to use the legislation to block piracy websites and expects to do so in a very short time.”
A federal court spokesman told Guardian Australia Roadshow Films and others filed a suit against internet service provider Telstra and others in the NSW registry.
The ABC report also says the rights holders and several of Australia’s largest ISPs have been in discussions over the past few months about the website blocking process.
Access to piracy-related websites can be blocked either by preventing a domain name system converting a website name into an IP address or by “cache-poisoning”, which redirects traffic to another site.
David Stewart, an intellectual property lawyer and and principal William + Hughes, told Guardian Australia the cases were significant because, if successful, it would be the first time media companies would be able to deal with piracy at the point of distribution, which was far more efficient than chasing individual pirates.
Copyright owners suing an individual pirate was “akin to using a sledgehammer to crack a peanut in terms of effort and consumption of the court’s time”, he said.
Stewart said “cache-poisoning has been used by domain name administrators for some time on an informal basis to mitigate the risk of fraud and criminal activity”.
He said blocking access to piracy-related sites carries “the real risk of human error –accidentally including an IP address which should not have been targeted” and denying web users access to legitimate sites.
A spokeswoman for communications minister Mitch Fifield said the law passed in June is intended to assist copyright owners overcome jurisdictional barriers which make it difficult to enforce their rights against foreign-based infringing services online.
“In order to safeguard access to legitimate online content, the Act provides an intentionally high threshold for copyright owners to meet before the Court will grant an injunction to block an online location. The Act only captures online locations operated overseas where the primary purpose of the location is to infringe, or facilitate the infringement of, copyright,” she said.
Last week the plaintiff in the long-running Dallas Buyers Club case dropped its suit designed to force ISPs to hand over the personal details of their customers accused of sharing the film using the bit-torrent protocol.