It was probably as harrowing as it gets for a Federal Court hearing, as lawyers, journalists, a judge, and assorted observers today narrowly escaped being subjected to an episode of The Big Bang Theory.
Show-and-tell was a key part of the hearing for Village Roadshow’s latest application to have a number of websites linked to online piracy blocked by Australia’s largest Internet service providers.
Evidence put on by Roadshow at the hearing included a live demonstration of a number of the sites targeted by Roadshow: Movie4k, Gomovies, EZTV and Genvideos.
Snippets from Transformers: Age of Extinction and Passengers were streamed, but a move to download a Big Bang episode via BitTorrent was abandoned in order to save the time. However, Roadshow has provided the judge with access to a laptop and mobile broadband dongle, with Justice Nicholas intending to browse the target websites and confirm that they meet the threshold required under Australian copyright law to impose a block.
Roadshow in February launched this latest application to have ISPs block piracy-linked websites. The entertainment company is targeting 41 websites that it says engage in or facilitate copyright infringement. The sites are a mixture of BitTorrent sites, search engines, sites that link to other sites hosting copyright material, and sites that provide direct access to infringing content.
Columbia Pictures, Disney, Paramount, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal, and Warner Bros. are also listed as applicants in the matter.
The application for injunction names Telstra, TPG, Optus and Vocus, as well as the ISPs’ subsidiaries. A case management hearing for the application held in March heard that the telcos did not intend to enter an appearance in the matter, and they were not represented in court today.
The orders Roadshow is seeking are modelled on those handed down in response to the first two applications for injunction under the site-blocking regime. Those applications were brought by Roadshow and pay TV provider Foxtel.
Roadshow successfully applied to have TPG, Telstra, Optus and M2 block access to Solar Movie, while Foxtel’s application listed listed The Pirate Bay, Torrentz, TorrentHound and IsoHunt. The applications were granted in December.
ISPs did appear in court during those two applications, with rights holders and telcos clashing over details of the orders that should be granted.
Roadshow’s proposed orders in the current matter include provisions for $50 per domain blocked to be paid to ISPs to cover the costs of complying with the injunction as well as court oversight for adding additional mirrors and proxies to the list of blocked sites (the initial list in the current matter has already been tweaked since the application was lodged with the court). Both issues were points of contention during the first wave of site-blocking applications.
Last month the Federal Court granted a third site-blocking application brought by representatives of the music industry and targeting BitTorrent site Kickass Torrents.
A further application for injunction has been brought by Foxtel and is yet to be heard.