Foxtel continues Game of Whack-a-Pirate

During the piracy site-blocking hearing, counsel for Foxtel emphasised the illegal access to its copyrighted content 'Game of Thrones' and 'Wentworth' via streaming services and torrenting websites.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor on

Pay TV provider Foxtel is aiming to bring down all illegal avenues of access to its copyrighted content online, with the pay TV provider widening its net to include alleged illegal streaming services.

During a hearing on Tuesday to have the Federal Court of Australia block 128 alleged foreign copyright-infringing websites by internet service providers (ISPs) following its success last year in blocking The Pirate Bay, counsel for Foxtel gave the court live demonstrations of Yes Movies, Watch Series, 1337x, and Putlocker.

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.

"Foxtel sees utility in orders of this nature," counsel for Foxtel commented when Justice Burley said blocking piracy websites was like whack-a-mole, as sites simply pop up elsewhere when one is blocked.

Foxtel spent considerable money on acquiring the exclusive Australian rights to Game of Thrones, counsel added, and alleged piracy sites providing free access online "undermines its business model and its ability to compete with its competitors".

"It's important to block these sites," Foxtel argued.

Website blocking was legislated under the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Act, 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.

According to counsel for Foxtel, the sites being targeted "unashamedly and flagrantly infringe or facilitate the infringement of copyright"; however, one of the sites may not fulfil the condition of being hosted overseas.

While watchepisodeseries.com has an Australian top-level domain, Foxtel pointed out that the IP location is situated within the United States. It is the IP location and not the domain location that should be given emphasis in this case, according to Foxtel.

Burley J adjourned the hearing and will hand down his decision at a later date.

In June, Foxtel had said it would be seeking to block an additional 73 domain names, 68 of which belong to The Pirate Bay and five to Torrentz.

This was in addition to the 17 websites with 127 URLs it said it would be targeting in early June, after launching its new case in May to block piracy-linked sites including Yes Movies, Los Movies, Watch Series, and Project Free TV.

The ISPs remained unrepresented during the hearing due to a precedent set in the original Foxtel/Roadshow case, 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, Universal, Warner Bros, Twentieth Century Fox, and Paramount, said it would be targeting four types of piracy websites: 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 has also appeared on the other side of a piracy site-blocking court case in its capacity as an ISP 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.

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