Following a case brought by several prominent rightsholders, the Australian Federal Court has ordered dozens of local Internet service providers to block The Pirate Bay, Torrentz, TorrentHound, IsoHunt, SolarMovie, plus many proxy and mirror services. The event marks the start of mass-blocking Down Under.
It’s been several years in the making and a move that required legislative change and cooperation between rightsholders and ISPs, but Australians will soon be subjected to the site-blocking phenomenon.
Following a case brought by rightsholders including Roadshow Films, Foxtel, Disney, Paramount, Columbia, and 20th Century Fox, more than fifty Internet service providers Down Under are now required to start barring subscriber access to ‘pirate’ sites.
In an order handed down a few hours ago, Justice John Nicholas of the Federal Court ruled that The Pirate Bay, Torrentz, TorrentHound, IsoHunt and streaming service SolarMovie will all have to be rendered inaccessible to consumers in Australia. The same applies to dozens of affiliated and non-affiliated proxy and mirror sites.
The decision, however, was not without its complications. Torrentz, TorrentHound, and Solarmovie have all shut down since the beginning of the legal action.
In the end, the Judge concluded there was a risk that the platforms could rise again so agreed to a ban. However, a small number of inactive Pirate Bay proxies and mirrors were excluded as no evidence of infringing activity was presented against them in Court.
Ruling all of the remaining sites to based overseas and in breach of Australian copyright law, the Judge gave ISPs including Telstra, Optus, TPG and iiNet just 15 days to comply with the blocking order, meaning that the blocks could be put in place before the end of the year.
ISPs were given a choice over how to implement the blocks. The Judge said they must all take “reasonable” steps which include DNS blocking, IP address blocking (or IP re-routing), URL blocking, or “any alternative technical means” approved by a rightsholder.
The Judge also determined that when being denied access to a blocked site, consumers must be informed what is happening. As a result, ISPs will either have to redirect subscribers to a landing page or, alternatively, redirect them to a page put in place by rightsholders.
The big argument over who will pay for the blockades has also been settled. The Internet service providers will all have to foot the bill for putting their own blocking mechanisms in place but rightsholders must pay AUS$50 per domain moving forward. The rightsholders were also ordered to pay the ISPs’ legal costs.
Today’s ruling and these initial blockades represent the beginning of mass site-blocking in Australia. Rightsholders re-attending Court to have more sites blocked is likely to become a regular occurrence in 2017 and beyond.