Foxtel takes aim at web proxies in piracy fight

Pay TV company wants Australian ISPs to block five web proxy services

Five web proxy services are among a collection of sites that pay TV company Foxtel wants Australia’s major ISPs to block.

Late last month the company filed an application for an injunction that, if granted, will compel TPG, Telstra, Vocus, Optus and Vodafone to block access to 14 online services, including almost three dozen associated domains.

The majority of the services are either BitTorrent sites or sites that provide links to unauthorised copies of movies and TV shows. However, Foxtel is also seeking to block access to 12 domains associated with web proxies Unblocked.lol, Unblocked.win, Unblockall, Unblocker, and Myunblock.

It is the first time that a copyright owner or licensee has sought to block a proxy services using Australia's anti-piracy laws.

The home pages of all five of the targeted services explicitly advertise their use to skirt blocks of BitTorrent sites or other services associated with copyright infringement as well as, in some cases, access a range of streaming TV services.

Previous actions by Foxtel and other entertainment companies have included mirror sites or proxy servers of piracy sites, but not the kind of more general service offered by the sites in the current matter.

Most services that have been blocked by actions brought under Section 115a of the Copyright Act have supported direct or BitTorrent downloads, streaming, or links (in some cases via a search engine) to streaming or downloadable content.

Earlier this year, music labels successfully obtained a blocking injunction that targeted ‘stream ripping’ sites, and last year sites linked to a number of Android set-top boxes were blocked by court order. Online services providing subtitle downloads have also been blocked.

All of the services targeted by Foxtel in the current action have as their “primary purpose and/or primary effect” infringing or facilitating the infringement, according to a court filing first reported by online news site TorrentFreak.

When the S115a rules were first introduced, copyright owners (or licensees) were required to prove that a target online location had copyright infringement (or facilitation of copyright infringement) as its “primary purpose”. Legislation passed in 2018 expanded the scope to include the “primary effect” language.

The government said the move would allow rights holders to block a significantly wider range of sites, such as ‘cyber lockers’ .

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Tags Telecommunicationspiracyfoxtelsite blocking laws

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