Australian ISPs to block 128 domains linked to online piracy in Foxtel case

The pay TV provider has extended its list of targeted domain names to include an additional 73 domains associated with The Pirate Bay and Torrentz.
Written by Tas Bindi, Contributor

Pay TV provider Foxtel is looking to have an additional 73 domain names blocked by Australian internet service providers (ISPs) for engaging in or facilitating copyright infringement.

68 of these domain names belong to The Pirate Bay and five belong to Torrentz, bringing the total targeted domain names to 128.

Foxtel will serve its amended orders by the close of Thursday, and the 35 targeted ISPs will have 15 days to implement the DNS blocks.

During a case management hearing in the New South Wales Federal Court on Thursday morning, counsel representing Optus said the orders should also be "rectified" to accurately reflect its subsidiaries following a "corporate restructure", with an Optus spokesperson explaining to ZDNet shortly after that three of Optus' entities have been renamed and restructured into two entities.

Counsel representing Foxtel told presiding judge Justice Nicholas that during the previous case management hearing, Justice Burley thought it might be useful to have "some mechanism, more efficiently, no doubt, to join people or join parties and remove them as appropriate or substitute them".

"There has been correspondence going around and around for some months. We would like to come to some kind of landing point on that, where people make their positions clear by a certain point," Foxtel's counsel told Nicholas J.

Optus' counsel said once those amendments are made, it will consent to the orders, as will the other ISPs, who did not appear in court.

The News Corporation and Telstra joint-venture was among the first companies to take advantage of the amended copyright law, which legislated website blocking back in 2015.

Under theCopyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Act 2015, which passed both houses of Parliament in mid-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 Films were 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.

Under that ruling, rights holders were to pay a AU$50 fee per domain they wanted to have blocked, with the block to remain intact for three years.

The pay TV provider confirmed last month that it was targeting an additional 17 websites with 127 URLs -- such as Yes Movies, Los Movies, Watch Series, and Project Free TV -- or 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.

Foxtel also said at the time that "will be doing a tidy up of the application" closer to trial date to cover any proxy sites that have popped up or changed names and URLs.

Roadshow Films, which leads a group of film studios including Disney, Paramount, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal, and Warner Bros, presented its case last month to have additional websites linked to online piracy blocked by ISPs, with the original list of 41 websites proposed earlier this year to be extended 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.

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