Foxtel wins court case to block over 120 piracy sites

Foxtel's bid to have more than 120 alleged piracy sites including Yes Movies, Los Movies, Watch Series, 1337x, and Putlocker blocked by the Federal Court has been successful.

An additional 127 domains linked to piracy will be blocked under another judgment in the Federal Court case between Foxtel and Australia's internet service providers (ISPs).

The targeted ISPs -- including TPG, Optus, and Vocus -- will have 15 days to disable access to the online locations that were found to have been engaging in or facilitating copyright infringement.

Specifically, the ISPs will be required block domain names associated with Yes Movies, Vumoo, Los Movies, Cartoon HD, Putlocker, Watch Series 1, Watch Series 2, Project - Free TV, ProjectFreeTV, Watch Episodes, Watch Episode Series, Watch TV Series, The Dare TV, Putlocker9.is, Putlocker9.com, 1337x, and Torlock.

Foxtel is required to pay a AU$50 fee for every domain it wants to have blocked, with the block to remain intact for three years.

"Foxtel welcomes today's judgment as another critical step in combating online piracy, which continues to undermine Australia's creative industry," Foxtel CEO Peter Tonagh said in a statement.

"The government's passage of the site blocking legislation, and the Court's continued willingness to impose site blocking orders, illustrates the gravity of the threat and the concern we should all have about protecting the hard work of the actors, writers, directors and production teams involved in creating the programming we all love."

Tonagh added that the public needs to be educated that accessing copyrighted content is "not a victimless crime".

"[We] will continue to do our part in shedding light on the seriousness of intellectual property theft, while simultaneously helping to ensure our content is available quickly, easily and at a price that suits their budgets."

In a case management hearing last week, Foxtel particularly pointed towards copyright infringement of the TV series Wentworth, the rights to which are co-owned by Foxtel, as well as the seventh and current season of Game of Thrones, for which it said there were over 2.4 million views on Yes Movies alone at the time.

Counsel representing Foxtel said that the News Corporation- and Telstra-owned pay TV provider had spent considerable money on acquiring the exclusive Australian rights to Game of Thrones, and alleged piracy sites providing free access online "undermines its business model and its ability to compete with its competitors".

Earlier on Friday, Roadshow, which leads a group of film studios including Disney, Universal, Warner Bros, Twentieth Century Fox, and Paramount, was also successful in its case to block 42 piracy sites including Demonoid, ExtraTorrent, LimeTorrents, MegaShare, Piratebay.to, and EZTV.

Foxtel and Roadshow were among the first companies to take advantage of the amended copyright law, which legislated website blocking back in 2015. Under the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Act 2015, content rights holders can obtain a court order to block websites hosted overseas that are believed to exist for the primary purpose of infringing or facilitating infringement of copyright under Section 115A.

Foxtel and Roadshow were also successful last year in their concurrent pursuits to have websites such as The Pirate Bay, Torrentz, TorrentHound, IsoHunt, and SolarMovie blocked by more than 50 ISPs in Australia including Telstra, Optus, Vocus, and TPG.

The pay TV provider confirmed earlier this year that it would be targeting five different types of piracy-infringing sites 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.

Like Foxtel, which extended its list of domain names to be blocked from around 55 to 128, Roadshow also presented its case earlier this year to have additional websites linked to online piracy blocked by ISPs, with the original list of 41 websites proposed earlier this year to include additional spinoff websites.

In a case management hearing in May, counsel representing Roadshow referred to online piracy as a "constantly changing environment", adding that some of the targeted websites are no longer active or redirect users to new websites that look "substantially the same as the original website" but with a new logo slapped on.

Both Foxtel and Roadshow were told by their presiding judges that they will have to prove the sites in question had engaged in or facilitated copyright infringement, that the sites are hosted overseas, and that they have contacted the sites' owners.

Additionally, the companies were told to prove that the ISPs provide access to those sites and that they have ownership over the copyright content being infringed.

In April, the Australian Federal Court ruled in favour of Universal Music Australia to block Kickass Torrents and its related proxy websites via DNS blocking or any other means for disabling access to the online location.

Foxtel was, however, on the other side of this case as an ISP, along with TPG, Telstra, Optus, Virgin Mobile Australia, Vividwireless, Pacnet, Alphawest, and Uecomm.

Updated 12.15am 18 August 2017: Added comments from Foxtel CEO.

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