This Is Australia’s New Site Blocking Legislation

This Is Australia’s New Site Blocking Legislation

After a year of consultation with industry (read: rights-holders) on how the Government can best crack-down on piracy, an anti-piracy Bill designed to block infringing sites has now been introduced to the Parliament. Here’s what it says.

The Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015 gives rights-holders the ability to apply for certain sites to be blocked if they’re deemed to be for the purpose of infringing copyright or illegally distributing copyrighted material.

Rights-holders can ask the courts to block sites hosted outside of Australia under the new legislation, meaning that internet service providers may soon be blocking access to everything from The Pirate Bay through to bootleg streaming sites.

The Pirate Bay Is Successfully Dodging ISP-Level Site Blocking

When deciding whether or not to block a site, the Federal Court must take a few things into account. It must test:

• the flagrancy of the infringement or [the site’s] facilitation
• whether disabling access to the online location is a proportionate response in the circumstances
• the impact on any person likely to be affected by the grant of the injunction, and
• whether it is in the public interest to disable access to the online location.

The explanatory memorandum for the Bill states that it’s an “intentionally high threshold test” for laws that should only be used to block flagrant infringers of copyright.

When introducing the Bill to the Lower House, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull said that, in addition to the site-blocking legislation, “the government accepts that [availability of content locally] is important,” in reducing online copyright infringement.

Turnbull praised rights-holders in Parliament by continuing to make new offerings available to Australian users to give more choice.

This is just the First Reading of the Bill. It’s set to be debated further at a later sitting. [APH]