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Australia's Site-Blocking Laws Are Being Tested For The First Time In Court Today

Back in February last year, legislation was passed that allowed content rights holders to apply for an order to block websites that facilitate piracy in Australia. Today, Foxtel and Village Roadshow are setting a precedent in court as the first parties applying to block Australians’ access to The Pirate Bay, SolarMovie, Torrentz, TorrentHound and IsoHunt websites.

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According to iTnews, today’s application by the two rightsholders targets a total of five websites, with a total of 61 different URLS including different top-level domains. To win, Foxtel and Village Roadshow will have to prove to the court that the sites are used primarily for copyright infringement. The legislation requires that the sites be made aware of the court action, but Foxtel legal representative Richard Lancaster said no communication had been received from any of the site owners to be involved in the court case.

Representatives for Telstra, Optus, TPG and M2 are also present, and while being actively involved in discussions on how to move forward, will not be submitting a defence. They may, however, be required to provide evidence surrounding the technicalities of website blocking.


iTnews revealed that the ISPs have expressed interest in blocking at the domain name system (DNS) level, as opposed to the blocking of IP addresses and URLs proposed by Foxtel and Village Roadshow. This point is particularly important, as it will set the precedent for cases to come.

Optus want a court registrar to oversee a case management conference to get all parties on the same page and make the process as “quick, inexpensive and efficient as possible”, according to iTnews.

The other ISPs said they would rather work out any disputes among themselves and the rights holders before bringing in a third party, to which the court agreed. On 6 May 2015 the ISPs and rights holders will return to court along with details on what has been agreed — and disagreed — upon.

The rights holders will also bring along their evidence of how the sites they are seeking to block operate. [iTnews]


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