Foxtel wants UK-style block on piracy websites

Foxtel wants UK-style block on piracy websites

Summary: Australia's largest pay TV provider has called for parliament to follow the UK's lead and give courts the power to block websites that have copyright infringing content.


Australia's largest pay TV provider, Foxtel, has told the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) that Australia should follow the UK and block sites that offer copyright infringing content, such as The Pirate Bay.

Foxtel, the pay TV network that is owned by Telstra and News Limited, said in its submission (PDF) to the ALRC's review of copyright law that the film studios should be able to go to court and force internet service providers (ISPs) to block specific websites that host infringing content.

"We submit that parliament should provide the courts with the power to order ISPs to block specific sites. This power would be exercised after application by a rights holder and result in the issuing of an injunction that applies to all ISPs," Foxtel said. "This legislation would be similar to that used in the UK to block piracy sites, such as The Pirate Bay."

Foxtel said that the UK model had been a great success, and traffic to The Pirate Bay had dropped to a quarter of its original levels between April and September this year.

But despite the site being blocked at a server level in the UK by the six largest ISPs serving around 20 million customers, some were able to work around the block via a proxy within minutes.

Foxtel, which currently has 2.3 million subscribers across Australia, said broadly that the ALRC's review should not allow the "social norms" that condone copyright infringement to determine how the law may be changed.

"We submit that the ALRC must not allow social norms, which condone illegitimate use of copyright material, or would be used to justify unreasonably broad exemptions to copyright infringement provisions, or to dictate amendments to copyright law, which will diminish the ability of content creators and owners to appropriately exploit their protected works."

The company said that Australia needed to implement an industry code of practice to deal with copyright infringement in order to align itself with other countries, such as the US, the UK, New Zealand, France, and Korea. The scheme in mind would be a graduated response scheme that starts with infringement notices.

"Foxtel believes that a notice scheme would result in a significant proportion of those illegally downloading content to change their behaviour and cease downloading," the company said.

The New Zealand system sees users handed NZ$15,000 fines if they are caught three times infringing on copyright. Since bringing in the law in 2011, only a small number of users have reached the third strike.

Negotiations for Australia's own version of the infringement notice system have struggled to progress, with ISPs and the content industry at loggerheads over who would fund the system. In New Zealand, ISPs charge the content owners NZ$25 per notice sent to a user, however the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand wants this dropped to NZ$2.

Foxtel said that it was seeking to meet the demands of consumers through offering services not only on the TV, but also through tablets, and said that content from the US was being made available very soon after it airs in the US. HBO's The Walking Dead airs in Australia 33 hours after the US and Dexter airs three days after, for example.

Topics: Government, Government AU, Telstra, Australia


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • They still don't get it

    Land based foxtel is required to use the new services, such as on ipad. Remove this restriction and it would be a lot more popular. It's locked to particular hardware (apple in this case) as well.

    Give us a monthly fee that one can go and download the shows one wants to watch, when one wants to watch them - with the added benefit of quota-free for telstra fixed & mobile customers - and there is something that really will permanently change the behaviour of millions of people. Plus a live feed of all channels that is device independant. In decent quality (720p where source is available as a minimum) too please.

    It doesn't have to cost loads of bandwidth - look at the piraters - half hour cartoons are under 100mb in broadcast quality now, other TV is about 280mb per 43-44 minute show.

    Anyway - foxtel won't do any of that for reasons known only to themselves - back to reality:

    Should any of this actually get up, it's easy and cheap to avoid by using a VPN, visiting different websites, or using other protocols to download content.

    There is also a mirror of the pirate bay setup by the Pirate Party organisation in the UK to avoid the restriction, so in that light, it's not a great success at all as the statistic that is used to measure TPB visitors dropping by 25% no doubt doesn't factor in visits to the pirate party's mirror website.

    The ipad app is a step in the right direction, but it's not enough. Big sitck law enforcement will only alienate those thinking about giving it a go, as well as being a PR disaster for the company.
  • Foxtel...

    Leave the pirates (aka customers) alone. Regard them as a measure of your failure. When the figure drops to zero, or close, you will know that your business model is right. I think you might be moving, slowly, in the right direction, but you aren't there yet. Litigating is not going to get you there.
  • Truly amazingly stupid request!

    1) The company doesnt like something so with this law in place they get a site banned but that site may well be OK anyway. So how do you actually get back on the good list if unfairly put on the list? It is like Trend Microsoft Sorbl list. You get on there without being told and there is no proof for you to read so you have to apply to get off and you have to answer all the ridiculous questions without knowing how you got there in the first place. That is what this law would do!

    2) Regardless of being on a black list, anyone with any I.T. interest at all or anyone who really WANTS to get around ANY internet filtering can do so. It doesnt take much to do it and you can be completely anonymous if you want when doing it. If Iran residents can do it and Chinese residents can do it, you KNOW that Aussie residents can! So what was the point of this in the first place? All it does is mean that ISPs have extra work to put in place the banned sites so they can be legal while the users of those same ISPs get around the filters anyway.

    One day we are going to wake up with a generation of people who understand the basics of I.T. but obviously this ridiculous call for a filter means we havent reached that point yet. Just more people without a clue but having a BIG MOUTH proving both those points in a large way!
  • They've never got it really

    Not everyone watches sport, bundling a heap of useless channels like that FoxSport rubbish and selling it as an expensive bundle, when all you want is a few channels like NatGeo, SciFi, Comedy Channel, etc is not going to keep you customers.

    Do a package deal where the CUSTOMER can select the channels they want, at a REASONABLE price per channel, and you'll have a winner.
    • Hear Hear

      +1 Tinman

      I would happily pay for Foxtel for the 2 or three channels I want at a fair price. Not this stupid $49 per month for channels of crap I do not want. Been saying it for years. The reason Foxtel still has to advertise so readily in shopping centres, TV etc, is because it's just simply a rip-off. Instead of spending all that money on stupid advertising that's not going to win the customer over, design an affordable package. We'll bit.

      BTW I was in Holland 2 years ago and they get 200 channels of cable + internet for 9 Euros per month. No joke. I know Australia is a totally different situation, but the gap is FAR too great. Foxtel = Greedy!
    • Spot On

      The pricing definitely needs to be changed. Not only is one paying for channels that are never watched, one is also PAYING FOR ADVERTISEMENTS. If I'm paying for a premium service, I expect my viewing to be similar to a DVD experience--without advertising!

      "Free" to air TV is funded by its advertisers. Foxtel seems to want the best of both worlds by charging the consumer AND the advertiser.
  • Foxtel rip off

    When anyone with half a brain can use a VPN & access Hula, Netflix, 100's of TV channels & other material from the US for US$9/month, why would anyone want to pay Foxtel for a seriously inferior service.

    When are the morons who run Foxtel going to wake up?

    Foxtel & it's partners are basically thieves, ripping everyone off & blocking material millions around the world in the Northern hemisphere can receive any time of the day or night, not just what & when Foxtel thinks it can make money.
  • Bye Foxtel

    Added to my boycott list along with Harvey N etc.
  • Foxtel - Here's Why I Don't Subscribe:

    Every time I visit my in-laws, all I can find to watch on Foxtel is some dull British countryside murder mystery filled with quirky country characters providing red herrings to an otherwise unspectacular murder scenario, some brain-deadening sports program, One Direction music videos, reality shows I can watch on freeview for free, or the very same reruns of South Park I watched the last time I visited and had enough time to give the Comedy network a try. Oh, there goes Cartman traveling in time to play wii again. Sorry, but it has nothing to do with pirates.
    • PS

      I grew up in Canada, so I know what a REAL cable service is like. Just think of it this way Foxtel: competition might give you the opportunity to improve. If you choose to roll over and die instead, you won't be mourned.