Record turnaround for Foxtel anti-piracy injunction

Foxtel adds 15 online services to Australia’s anti-piracy block list

Foxtel has been successful in its Federal Court application to have Australian ISPs block 28 domains linked to 15 online services.

Those services offer access to BitTorrent downloads and illicit streaming of a range of the pay TV’s copyright material.

The Federal Court injunction will affect customers of Telstra, Optus, TPG and Vocus, including the companies’ subsidiaries (which include popular ISPs such as Dodo, iiNet and Internode).

Foxtel appeared in court yesterday to argue for the website-blocking injunction. The application itself was only lodged in April — making this the quickest turnaround yet for an application for injunction lodged under Section 115a of the Copyright Act.

That section of the act allows for rights holders to apply for injunctions that seek to have telcos block their customers from accessing an overseas-based online service where “the primary purpose of the online location is to infringe, or to facilitate the infringement of, copyright (whether or not in Australia)”.

“The nature and extent of the copyright material made available at each of the target online locations, or at other online locations, to which they provide links, demonstrates a flagrant disregard by the operators of the rights of copyright owners,” Justice Nicholas found.

“The only persons likely to be interested in communicating with the target online locations are those who seek instant access to movies and television programs without having to pay for it. There are in my view no relevant discretionary considerations that weigh against the making of the orders sought by the applicant in respect of each of the target online locations.”

The swift turnaround indicates the increasingly routine nature of site-blocking injunctions. Foxtel and other rights holders have indicated they are keen to find ways to reduce the time and cost of applying for the blocks.

It is Foxtel’s third successful application for a site-blocking injunction, following judgements in August 2017 and December 2016.

In the case of the recent application Foxtel suggested that it could perhaps not serve its evidence on the telcos subject to the application and have the case heard ‘on the papers’; the suggestions were rejection by presiding judge Justice Nicholas. The entertainment company also ditched the customary in-court demonstration of the websites, instead screening videos of a Foxtel employee using the sites.

The current injunction targeted streaming sites HDO, HDEuropix, 123Hulu, Watch32, Sockshare, NewEpisodes, 1Movies, 5Movies, WatchFreeMovies and SeriesTop, as well as BitTorrent sites ETTV, MagnetDL, Torrent Download, Torrent Room, and Torrents.me.

As with previous injunctions, telcos have the choice of employing DNS, URL, IP-based blocking, or any similar method. Thus far, telcos have all opted to employ DNS-based blocking (probably a wise move given that many of the IP addresses listed in the various site-blocking applications are linked to US CDN and DDoS mitigation provider Cloudflare and are likely shared among multiple online services.)

Currently awaiting judgement is a site-blocking injunction brought by Hong Kong company Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB). TVB is seeking to block online services linked to that seeks to seven Android-based set-top boxes (A1, BlueTV, EVPAD, FunTV, MoonBox, Unblock, and hTVS).

The application, which is complicated by the uncertainty surrounding the copyright status in Australia of TVB’s broadcasts, is the second to target set-top boxes following legal action brought by entertainment company Village Roadshow (Roadshow’s application to block domains linked to Android set-top box app HDSubs+ was granted in April).

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Tags copyrightNetworkingTelecommunicationspiracyfoxtelcopyright infringementsite blocking laws

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