Entertainment company Roadshow Films has presented its case to have Australian internet service providers (ISPs) block four types of websites linked to online piracy, with the original list of 41 websites proposed earlier this year to be extended to include additional spinoff websites.
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referred to online piracy as a "constantly changing environment", adding that some of the targeted websites are no longer active or redirect users to new websites that look "substantially the same as the original website" but with a new logo slapped on.
Evidence presented at a Federal Court hearing on Wednesday included a live demonstration of the websites being targeted by Roadshow: Movie4k, Genvideos, EZTV, and 123Movies, which redirected to GoMovies.
These represented the four types of websites being targeted by the entertainment company in its anti-piracy crackdown: 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.
Scenes from Transformers: Age of Extinction and Passengers were streamed in the live demonstration; however, an attempt to download an episode of The Big Bang Theory was shut down to save time.
Roadshow, which leads a group of film studios including Disney, Paramount, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal, and Warner Bros, also handed over evidence to show that the targeted websites had engaged in or facilitated copyright infringement, that they were hosted overseas, and that attempts had been made to contact their owners.
Roadshow provided Justice Nicholas with access to a laptop, USB, and mobile broadband dongle to allow the judge to browse the targeted websites in chambers and confirm that they meet the requirements under Australian copyright law to impose a block.
The entertainment company will need to provide evidence that it is the exclusive licensee of films such as The Lego Movie.
Website blocking was legislated under the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Act 2015, 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.
Roadshow and pay TV provider Foxtel was among the first companies to take advantage of the amended copyright law, initiating legal action last year to block websites such as The Pirate Bay, Torrentz, TorrentHound, IsoHunt, and SolarMovie.
The concurrent cases closed at the end of last year, with more than 50 ISPs in Australia -- including Telstra, Optus, Vocus, and TPG -- ordered to block these sites.
The ruling meant, however, that content owners would have to pay AU$50 for every domain they want blocked.
Following the successful applications for injunction last year, Roadshow decided to continue in its quest to eliminate online piracy, initiating further legal action to block 41 websites belonging to popular torrent, streaming, and direct download sites including Demonoid, ExtraTorrent, LimeTorrents, and EZTV in February this year.
Along with the blocking of torrenting websites, Roadshow revealed in its half-yearly results in February that it plans to work with Google to ensure page rankings for piracy websites are demoted. It will also push a public relations campaign to educate content consumers and wants to ensure the availability of legal alternatives.
"Suing infringers" is another point in Roadshow's plan, which was inspired by the Korean model of piracy crackdowns.
Last month, the Australian Federal Court also 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.
Similar to the Foxtel-Village Roadshow ruling in December, rights holders were ordered to pay AU$50 per domain they want blocked, with the block to remain intact for three years.
Earlier this month, Foxtel launched another case to block piracy-linked sites such as Yes Movies, Los Movies, Watch Series, and Project Free TV.