Entertainment companies seek to block subtitle download sites

First time literary copyright has been used in a site-blocking application

A coalition of entertainment companies is seeking to have Australian telcos block their customers from accessing a number of sites that offer downloads of subtitles that can be used in conjunction with illicitly streamed or downloaded movies and TV shows.

The companies' application for a site-blocking injunction targets some 77 online services. In addition to a range of sites that allegedly offer pirate downloads or streaming or link to other sites that offer those services, the companies want to block a number of services that enable users to “download files containing subtitles for cinematograph films”.

It is the first time a site-blocking application has relied on the infringement of literary copyright.

“People unknown have recorded from the motion pictures … then translated the words into different languages and then those websites make available files that contain the subtitles in those languages,” counsel for the applicants this morning told a Federal Court case management hearing.

Users are able to download those files then “combine them with the visual aspect of the film,” allowing, the court heard, for The Smurfs to be watched with Japanese subtitles, for example.

“You better make sure your evidence in relation to that is particularly thorough,” Justice Nicholas said. “There’s some creep here occurring – I don’t say that critically... [but] it’s a new angle so I’ll need to look at that closely.”

At the request of the judge, the applicants said they would make a computer and Internet connection available so Justice Nicholas or his associate could view the sites.

It has frequently been a very quick process to establish a “primary purpose” with previous sites that were the subject of web-blocking injunctions – “I’m not sure that’s the case here,” Nicholas said.

The action is not only the largest single application for a site block injunction in terms of number of sites targeted, but it also has the largest group of applicants and targets the subscribers of more Internet service providers than previous applications.

The application is led by Village Roadshow Films is supported by studios Disney, Twentieth Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Universal, Warner Bros, Hong Kong entertainment company Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB) and subsidiary TVBO Production Limited, and Australian entertainment distributor Madman Entertainment Pty Limited.

For the first time Vodafone is listed as a respondent, alongside Australia’s big four ISPs: Telstra, Optus, Vocus and TPG. The application also lists the telcos’ subsidiaries, such as iiNet, Internet and Dodo.

The coalition of entertainment companies is seeking to block 77 online services: 2ddl; 8maple.ru; 9anime.is; Addic7edAnilinkz; Animefreak; Animeshow; Avxhm; azmaple.com; Bilutv; Bt-scene; Cartooncrazy; Cmovieshd; Ddlvalley; Dnvod; dramacity.io; dramahk.me; Fmovies.io; Glodls; Gogoanime; Hdpopcorns; hindilinks4u.to; hkfree.co; icdrama.se; icdramase; ilovehks.com; IPTorrents; Kantv; Kimcartoon; Kissanime; kisscartoon.ac; m4ufree.com; Masterani.me; Myanimeseries; Nyaa; Nzbplanet; Ondarewatch; Openloadmovies; Opensubtitles.org; Otakustream; Phimbathu; Putlocker.ac; Putlockerhd.co; qooxi.net; Rmz; Rutracker.org; Scnsrc; Seasonvar; Seriesfree; Solarmoviez; Soul-anime; streamtvb.com; Subscene; Subsmovies; Torrentday; Torrentfunk; Torrentmovies; Tvbox; Tw116; Two-movies; Ultra-vid; Usabit; VexMovies; viewasian.tv; Vkool; Vmovee; Watchanimeonline.me; Watchcartoononline.com; Watchcartoononline.io; Watchonlinemovies; Watchseries-online; woaikanxi.cc; Yify-movies; Yifysubtitles; Ymovies.tv; Zimuzu; Zooqle .

Listed in the application are 151 domains associated with the services.

In August 2017, the court ordered a group of ISPs to block access to 58 sites and 200 related domains in response to separate applications from Foxtel and Roadshow.

In April 2018, Roadshow was successful with an injunction seeking to block a streaming service designed for Android-based set-top boxes. In June 2018, a Foxtel site-blocking application for injunction was granted, leading to 15 sites (and 28 domains) being blocked by ISPs.

A site-blocking application brought by TVB is currently being considered by the court. That application targets services used by the Android-based the A1, BlueTV, EVPAD, FunTV, MoonBox, Unblock, and hTVS set-top boxes. There is some uncertainty around the copyright status in Australia of some material used in the company’s application.

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Tags NetworkingTelecommunicationspiracyVillage Roadshowcopyright infringementsite blocking laws

More about AustraliaColumbia PicturesFoxtelMadman EntertainmentOptusParamount PicturesTwentieth Century FoxVillage RoadshowVodafoneWarner Bros

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