In a bold move, Australian Justice John Nicholas ordered on Thursday that ISPs must take reasonable steps to disable access to torrenting websites within 15 working days.
Torrenting sites such as The Pirate Bay have tried for years to stay one step ahead of the law. Several months ago, the FBI arrested the founder of KickassTorrents, Artem Vaulin. Then, another site—Torrentz.eu—mysteriously disappeared. Even though Torrentz.eu didn’t host torrents itself, it apparently didn’t matter.
As for KickassTorrents, the FBI received a little help from Apple, who traced an iTunes transaction from Vaulkin. Afterward, Assistant Attorney General Caldwell commented:
“In an effort to evade law enforcement, Vaulin allegedly relied on servers located in countries around the world…His arrest in Poland, however, demonstrates again that cybercriminals can run, but they cannot hide from justice.”
The judge—Justice John Nicholas—directly referenced The Pirate Bay, Torrentz, TorrentHound, IsoHunt, and SolarMovie. According to the judgment, ISPs need to take “reasonable steps” to block these websites within 15 working days.
Companies Foxtel and Village Roadshow already filed applications in February. Village Roadshow specifically wants to block SolarMovie, an illegal streaming service. Foxtel wants to target the other four websites.
This is the first time that Australia has successfully used site-blocking laws like the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Act (CAA). The Federal Court is letting ISPs choose the method of blocking. Once blocked, people visiting each website will see a landing page. Each page will say that the Federal Court has disabled the site because it “infringes or facilitates the infringement of copyright.”
The law doesn’t mention any penalties for people who try to access the sites. However, if all they can see is a landing page, then a penalty shouldn’t be needed. ISPs responding to the applications include Telstra, Optus, TPG, and M2.
The Court hasn’t ordered a rolling injunction. This would let new websites get added without court approval or oversight. Instead, either Foxtel or Village Roadshow needs to file a new affidavit and present each new website’s domain name or IP address.
Foxtel chief executive Peter Tonagh made a statement:
“This judgement is a major step in both directly combating piracy and educating the public that accessing content through these sites is not OK, in fact it is theft.”
The exact blocking method isn’t known, although it could be anything from DNS blocking, blocking IP addresses, to URL blacklists. Whatever the method, the ISPs and rights holders all need to agree on it.
For every blocked domain, copyright holders need to pay $50 to the internet companies. “We would’ve liked no cost…however the judge has awarded $50 per website…and we think that’s fair and that’s reasonable.”
TPG is the one that proposed DNS blocking. This would target the sites and prevent them from bypassing the ban by changing their IP address.
Using a VPN
Normally people can get around these website bans by using a VPN. However, Village Roadshow co-chief executive Graham Burke disagrees.
“The experience overseas is not many people use VPNs because they cost money as well…I think also when we explain to people that it’s not a victimless crime, that other people lose their jobs, I think that will have an impact.”
We think Mr. Burke is a relic of the past, a dinosaur if you will. Too old to embrace new media and too stupid to realize he has already lost. We are sick of the status quo, tired of the establishment and ready for an asteroid to kill what’s left of old media.