Foxtel files legal application to block proxy websites

The next hearing is scheduled for late August.

In another push to block Australians from accessing websites allegedly associated with online piracy, Foxtel has filed an action against telcos to block torrenting, streaming, and proxy websites. 

The orders sought by Foxtel are modelled on those granted in previous applications related to piracy, with Foxtel's legal representatives saying that the company's application was in a "very similar form to previous applications with similar types of technology". 

If the order is enforced, the telcos listed as respondents would be required to block access to a list of websites for a period of three years, using their choice of DNS, IP, or URL blocking or any other method agreed to by Foxtel.

The telcos include Optus, Telstra, TPG, Vocus, and Vodafone, in addition to their subsidiaries such as iiNet, Dodo, and iPrimus.

The sites that Foxtel has applied to be blocked are primarily links to streaming services or BitTorrent downloads, with five of them being proxy websites. The proxy websites are: Unblocked.lol, Unblocked.win, Unblockall, Unblocker, and Myunblock.

The new action filed by Foxtel upholds the pattern of content creators and television companies upping the ante against streamining and torrenting websites after amendments to the site-block laws were passed in late November.

The amendments allow for faster blocks of mirror sites, reduces the burden of proving that a site is hosted outside of Australia, and expands the legislation to sites that not only have the "primary purpose", but also to those that have the "primary effect" of infringing copyright, the government said at the time.

"The Copyright Amendment Bill will ensure a broader range of overseas websites and file-hosting services widely used for sharing music and movies are within the scope of the scheme, and provide a means for proxy and mirror pirate sites to be blocked quickly," the government said at the time. 

Prior to the amendments being made to Australia's copyright laws, Foxtel had already brought various legal actions to block websites that allegedly participated in piracy.   

While Justice Nicholas acknowledged the evidentiary burden to demonstrate that websites infringed copyright "has gotten easier with the amendments", the Federal Court Judge said he would not examine Foxtel's application on the papers. Instead, he will allow the respondent telcos to have an opportunity to object to the block at a hearing scheduled for August. 

With the flurry of site-blocking cases over the past year, Justice Nicholas also proposed that people make affidavits that have sworn evidence about their view as to what the purpose of a particular site is, which would help streamline the process for these types of cases.

Last month, Village Roadshow received a favourable court decision for a similar matter, with the Australian Federal Court granting an application for telcos to block 76 overseas hosted websites that linked, streamed, or torrented movies and TV shows.

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