Unauthorised subtitle services to be blocked: Court grants largest anti-piracy injunction

Major ISPs need to block more than 150 domains

The Federal Court has granted an application for the largest anti-piracy injunction so far, ordering Telstra, TPG, Optus, Vocus and Vodafone, as well as the companies’ subsidiaries, to take steps to block their customers from accessing more than 150 domains.

The application was brought by a large group of entertainment companies including Roadshow Films and major movie studios. Other participants included Television Broadcasts (TVB) Limited and its local subsidiary, as well as Australian distributor Madman Entertainment Pty Limited and Tokyo Broadcasting System Television, Inc.

Although the granting of website-blocking injunctions by the Federal Court is now fairly routine, this injunction is unique because it did not just target sites that provide unauthorised streaming or download services.

As well as more conventional pirate sites it targeted Addic7ed, Yifysubtitles, Opensubtitles.org and Subscene, which provide subtitle downloads that can be used with unauthorised copies of films and TV shows.

The application states that the other “target online locations” fall into three main categories.

In some cases they allow users to “view (by a process known as 'streaming') cinematograph films, being motion pictures, television programs or other audio-visual content, on devices connected to the Internet” or “cause copies of those cinematograph films to be downloaded onto the memory of their devices for watching later or enabling others to watch or further copy those cinematograph films”.

Other sites “identify other online locations including (by a process known as ‘linking’)” and those locations allow users to download and stream material.

The group of applicants relied on the literary copyright of screenplays in their evidence to block subtitle sites, backing away from an attempt to claim that their copyright of the subtitles themselves had been infringed.

Next year, it is likely that copyright holders will launch efforts to make Google and potentially other search providers remove links to services associated with piracy from their listings.

Earlier this year the parliament passed laws that expanded the existing anti-piracy scheme from just covering telecommunications providers to also covering search engines.

The types of sites that can be blocked were also expanded by the legislation, allowing so-called ‘cyber locker’ sites and possibly other services that aren’t flagrant in their support of copyright infringement to be targeted.

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