Site-Blocking In Australia Expanded Again To Include 105 More Sites, Including A Search Engine
from the creep-creep-creep dept
The Australian government approved an amended copyright law late last year that made subtle changes to what types of sites ISPs can be ordered to be blocked by the courts, and the process by which that order is obtained. Essentially, the changes amounted to allowing blocking of sites with the primary “effect” being copyright infringement, rather than the primary “purpose”, along with an expedited process for getting additional site-blocking orders for sites that set up mirror sites to route around the blocks. Before the ink on the legislation was even dry, just as we warned, Village Roadshow and a bunch of American entertainment companies swooped into the court system to order blocks on all kinds of sites.
And now it appears those groups were just getting started. After getting 181 domains blocked late last year, industry groups have decided to expand that with a recent request to block an additional 105 domains.
Soon after, the same companies (plus Australian distributor Madman and Tokyo Broadcasting) returned to court with a new application to block 79 “online locations” associated with 99 domains.
The order appears to have changed slightly since the original application. It now lists 104 domains spread across 76 allegedly-infringing platforms. Many of the sites are well-known torrent and streaming services, including StreamCR, Torrenting, TorrentLeech, AnimeHeaven, and HorribleSubs, to name just a few.
It’s a significant number of sites to be sure and it’s all enabled by the change in the copyright law. It’s worth keeping in mind that we’re less than a year into the change in law, and the entertainment industry has already blocked something like 200 sites. Even if we were to stipulate the pirate-y nature of these sites, which we shouldn’t, the speed at which this much wholesale blocking is being done is tremendous.
On the topic of whether all the sites being blocked are pirate sites, at least one of those sites is attempting to defend itself.
It’s extremely unusual for any sites to mount any kind of defense against blocking but earlier this year, Socrates Dimitriadis – the operator of Greek-Movies.com – did just that.
“My site is just a search engine that refers users to third-party websites,” he explained in a letter to the Court.
That appears to have held no sway with the Judge. Greek-Movies is the 15th site listed in the injunction, with ISPs required to target its main domain (greek-movies.com) and/or its IP address 126.96.36.199, using DNS, IP address or URL blocking, or “any alternative technical means”.
This reveals the pernicious nature of the “purpose” to “effect” change in copyright law. There are simply no clear lines drawn here, which has now resulted in a site that does not host any infringing content being blocked under the argument that it’s primary effect is still to effect copyright infringement. Precisely how long do you think it will take before someone in the music industry attempts to get YouTube blocked using that same argument? After all, there is a lot of infringement being done on YouTube, even though the primary purpose of the site is certainly not to commit copyright infringement. It sure seems like someone could do a statistical analysis of views and/or traffic on YouTube, mess with the data, and reach the conclusion that infringement is a primary effect of the site, no?
Again, we’re not even a year in. This is only going to get much, much worse.