Foxtel targets 17 piracy sites in Federal Court

Foxtel is seeking a court-ordered block on an additional 17 piracy websites with 127 URLs following the decisions to block The Pirate Bay and Kickass Torrents, among others.

Pay TV provider Foxtel is seeking an order for internet service providers (ISPs) to block another series of alleged foreign copyright-infringing websites through the Federal Court of Australia following its success last year in blocking The Pirate Bay.

During a case management hearing in the Federal Court on Friday morning, Foxtel said it is targeting 17 websites with 127 URLs, or five different types of piracy-infringing sites, although it "will be doing a tidy up of the application" closer to trial date to cover any proxy sites that have cropped up or changed names and URLs, for instance.

Justice Burley said Foxtel will need to provide an exhaustive list of the target online locations, and will still have to prove the essential elements of copyright infringement; that the ISPs provide access to those sites; and that Foxtel has ownership over the copyright content being infringed.

"It can't be assumed that it will simply be accepted that copyright ownership is there," Burley J said, adding that Foxtel needs to establish all of this in a pleading.

"We don't want any ambiguity as to whether the applicant is the copyright owner, or the exclusive licensee, or some hybrid.

"Until you expose all of those elements, it's not entirely clear."

Burley J also explained that he did not want to use a court computer during evidence due to "all of the difficulties associated with that", with counsel for Foxtel suggesting pre-recording a video of a witness going through the sites while providing commentary rather than doing a live demonstration of the sites in court.

According to Burley J, such a demonstration should not take more than 15 minutes anyway.

Foxtel had last month launched its new case to block piracy-linked sites including Yes Movies, Los Movies, Watch Series, and Project Free TV.

According to Justice Burley, the hearing should take only half a day. It is set to take place on August 8.

Australia's ISPs did not show up to the case management hearing on Friday, and would also be absent during a hearing due to a precedent set during the original case of Foxtel and Roadshow, wherein the court ordered more than 50 ISPs to block the Pirate Bay, Torrentz, TorrentHound, IsoHunt, and SolarMovie and their related proxy sites.

Under that ruling, rights holders were to pay a AU$50 fee per domain they wanted to block.

Following this judgment, Village Roadshow went on to initiate legal action to block a further 41 torrenting and streaming sites including Demonoid, ExtraTorrent, LimeTorrents, MegaShare, Piratebay.to, and EZTV earlier this year.

Roadshow, which leads a group of film studios including Disney, Paramount, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal, and Warner Bros, last month said it is targeting four types of piracy websites, including search engines, peer-to-peer torrent sites, sites that link to other sites hosting copyright content, and sites that provide direct access to copyright content through streaming or direct downloads.

Setting the trend for what will likely be the future of any similar proceeding, the ISPs said they do not intend to appear in court for the second Roadshow matter, although the latter will similarly still have to prove that the 41 sites in question are hosted overseas; have been contacted by the rights holder; and exist for the primary purpose of infringing or facilitating infringement of copyright.

Foxtel was, however, on the other side of a similar court case in its capacity as an ISP earlier this year when four music studios -- Universal Music Australia, Sony Music Entertainment Australia, Warner Music Australia, and J Albert & Son -- successfully blocked Kickass Torrents and its related proxy websites in April.

ISPs Foxtel, TPG, Telstra, Optus, Virgin Mobile Australia, Vividwireless, Pacnet, Alphawest, and Uecomm were ordered to take "reasonable steps" to block Kickass Torrents, Justice Burley said at the time, via DNS blocking or any alternative means for disabling access to the online location.

Burley J added that Universal must provide a landing page for any users attempting to reach Kickass Torrents, and within five business days must notify the ISPs of the URL for this landing page.

The block will remain in force for three years, at a cost to the rights holders of AU$50 per domain block.

Website blocking was legislated under the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Act 2015, which passed both houses of parliament in mid-2015 and allows rights holders to obtain a court order to block websites hosted overseas that are deemed to exist for the primary purpose of infringing or facilitating infringement of copyright under Section 115A.

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