Australia Update: Carriage service providers ordered to block illegal torrent and streaming websites


Yesterday (Thursday 15 December) the Federal Court of Australia handed down its decision in proceedings brought by Roadshow and Foxtel against various carriage service providers including Telstra, Optus, iinet and TPG under new copyright laws introduced in 2015.

Roadshow and Foxtel were successful in obtaining injunctive relief requiring numerous carriage service providers to block access to the Torrenz, TorrentHouse, IsoHunt and The Pirate Bay websites, which were found to have the primary purpose of infringing or facilitating the infringement of copyright by providing access to motion pictures, television programs, and software.

Section 115A of the Copyright Act was introduced by the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Act 2015.  It enables copyright owners to seek injunctive relief against carriage service providers providing access to online locations outside Australia infringing or facilitating the infringement of copyright.  Importantly, there is no requirement for the copyright owner to establish any element of knowledge or intention on the part of a carriage service provider.

Similar site-blocking laws apply in the UK where UK based carriage service providers have been ordered to block copyright infringing websites.

Although the parties reached agreement on a number of matters relating to the form of the injunctions and related orders, one of the issues in contention concerned compliance costs.  Justice Nicholas did not accept the submission advanced by Roadshow and Foxtel that the carriage service providers had obtained a commercial benefit by providing access to the relevant websites.  Rather, Foxtel and Roadshow were ordered to pay the compliance costs of the carriage service providers, at the rate of $50 per domain name blocked.

This decision is the first of its kind to deal with section 115A.  Earlier this year record labels Universal, Warner, Sony and Albert & Son filed proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia seeking to block the music piracy website Kickass Torrents under section 115A.  The case is pending before the Court.

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