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Australia: ISPs forced to block torrenting sites

In a first for Australia, our courts have ordered ISPs to block the websites of a number of torrenting sites. In Roadshow Films Pty Ltd v Telstra Corporation Ltd [2016] FCA 1503, Justice Nicholas ordered a collection of ISPs to block the websites of a number of well-known bittorrenting sites. The sites included in the blocking order are The Pirate Bay, Torrentz, TorrentHound, IsoHunt and SolarMovie.

The judge also put in place a mechanism for allowing the orders to be extended to other domains, in order to overcome the actions of infringing websites in constantly changing their URL addresses. However, this did not include allowing the copyright owners the ability to block sites without court approval.

The orders were made under the new provisions directed to blatant infringement under S115A of the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth), which was inserted into the Act in June 2015.

While the orders may help in blocking the inexperienced user from downloading illegal material, the legal solution may be more symbolic than practical and may not stop ISP customers from bittorrenting material in breach of copyright. For example, the use of virtual private networks (VPNs) is likely to easily circumvent the orders. In addition global DNS servers can also be used to overcome any ISP blocking.

Of course, having the courts mandating website blocking has led to opponents calling this the first step to implementing a Great Australian Firewall in breach of civil liberties.

Peter Treloar

Shelston IP
Level 21, 60 Margaret Street
Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
Tel: +61 2 9777 1111
Fax: +61 2 9241 4666


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