Judge to determine if subtitle sites deserve piracy block

Roadshow is targeting four sites that provide access to allegedly copyright-infringing subtitles for TV shows and movies, with Addic7ed, opensubtitles.org, Subscene, and YIFY subtitles under aim.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Roadshow has continued its legal battle against piracy sites, telling the Australian Federal Court that four websites providing access to subtitle files are infringing its copyright.

According to counsel for Roadshow, the four subtitle websites under aim are Addic7ed, opensubtitles.org, Subscene, and YIFY subtitles, which all do "nothing else except offer subtitles that infringe copyright".

The application to have the court order blocks against these websites is "no different" from the rest of the piracy site-block applications, she said, despite being a new type of site to be blocked with no audio or visual content.

The case management hearing was adjourned, with Justice Nicholas to evaluate whether the subtitle sites meet the requirements of being websites hosted overseas that are deemed to exist for the primary purpose of infringing or facilitating infringement of copyright under Section 115A under the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Act, which passed both houses of Parliament in mid-2015.

Vocus and TPG have not filed submitting appearances, but Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone Australia have.

Back in August, Roadshow had taken aim at websites offering access to scripts with subtitle files that can be combined with movies and TV shows.

As well as the four subtitle sites, the case -- being brought by Roadshow Films alongside the world's largest producers of Chinese media content, TVBO Productions and Television Broadcasts (TVB), and Madman Entertainment, which is the exclusive licensee of Japanese anime content -- is targeting 151 domains in total.

"People have recorded from the motion pictures or the programs -- the video content -- then translated the words into different languages, and then those websites make available files that contain the subtitles in those languages," counsel explained in August.

"Users can download those and then using video programs can combine those with the [films] ... they can combine the two and watch them."

No ISPs showed up for the case management hearing on Tuesday, after last year establishing the procedure of not being present during piracy site-blocking trials.

Another successful Federal Court case by Roadshow in April had resulted in Australia's internet service providers being ordered to block 16 online locations of alleged piracy websites due to their use by smart TV boxes, with TVB/TVBO winning a similar case last month.

In June, the Federal Court ordered Australia's internet service providers to block another swathe of allegedly illegal torrenting and streaming websites, after just one day after the one-hour hearing.

That hearing had seen counsel for Foxtel present evidence against 11 to 15 torrent websites and 10 streaming sites, including streaming site HDO and torrenting sites ETTV and Torrents.me, as well as a new version of the Pirate Bay, which was blocked years ago under a previous Foxtel case.

Previous site-blocking hearings saw content owners including Foxtel successfully seek blocks against Kickass Torrents, and more than 200 additional alleged piracy sites.

Under the initial ruling, rights holders are to pay a AU$50 fee per domain they want to block, with the websites to be blocked within 15 business days.

The Australian government opened consultation on the piracy site-blocking laws in mid February, with the Department of Communications seeking feedback on the effectiveness and efficiency of the mechanism, whether the application process and injunctions are operating well, and whether any amendments are required.

Research from Australia's Department of Communications in August showed that for the third year in a row, online copyright infringement rates have dropped off across TV series, movies, and music, with the finding that consumers are increasingly paying for digital content.

"This trend is probably driven by paid streaming services such as Netflix and Stan, which have been shown to experience dramatic popularity over the past few years and negates the need for consumers to source the content using other means," the department noted.


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