Village Roadshow and Hollywood studios have successfully got a court order forcing ISPs to block torrenting and free download sites. Peter Tonagh, CEO of Foxtel, says pirating a movie is theft. Photo: Louie Douvis
Fifty Australian internet service providers have been ordered to block access to pirating sites to stop illegal downloads.
Telcos will have to block access to piracy sites and divert Australians towards a web page created by movie studios, the Federal court ruled on Thursday afternoon.
Foxtel welcomed the decision calling it a “major step in directly combating piracy”.
The Pirate Bay, Torrentz, Torrent Hound, IsoHunt and SolarMovie are some of the sites that will be blocked.
In a case that covers more than fifty Australian internet service providers [ISPs], Justice John Nicholas of the Federal Court in Sydney ruled in favour of movie studios, including Roadshow Films, Colombia Pictures, Disney Studios, Paramount Pictures, and 20th Century Fox.
The movie studios must now create and host a website within five days, which Australian ISPs will direct any user to who tries to connect to SolarMovie pirating site. The content owners will also have to pay Telstra, Optus, M2 (now Vocus Communications) and TPG a fee of $50 for every site they want blocked.
“This judgment is a major step in both directly combating piracy and educating the public that accessing content through these sites is not OK, in fact it is theft,” Foxtel chief executive Peter Tonagh said.
Mr Tonagh said his subscription television network is doing its part to reduce piracy “by making content available in a timely manner, at different price points, and on multiple devices”.
“This judgement gives us another tool to fight the international criminals who seek to profit from the hard work of actors, writers, directors and other creators the world over,” he said.
In his decision Justice Nicholas said there were 61 sites that infringed Australian copyright laws by making films available online without licence from the copyright owners.
In relation to The Pirate Bay he wrote: “I am satisfied that the facilitation of the infringement of copyright is flagrant, and that the operator of the The Pirate Bay sites has shown a blatant and wilful disregard for the rights of copyright owners”.
Similarly for SolarMovie he said: “I am satisfied that the SolarMovie website was designed and operated to facilitate easy and free access to cinematograph films made available online, something which, I would infer,has almost certainly occurred without the permission of the owners of the copyright in such films”.
Hollywood studios tried to get ISPs to crack down on piracy in 2012, but failed after the High Court found internet providers are not liable for copyright infringement. In that case the studios were trying to get iiNet to prevent customers from using BitTorrent. The studios wanted iiNet to suspend services to customers who used BitTorrent.
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