Judge rejects plea to spare website from anti-piracy block

New injunction will compel telcos to block access to 104 more domains

A Federal Court judge has rejected the arguments of a website that links to online copies of Greek language movies and TV shows that it should be spared from a site-blocking injunction sought by major movie studios.

Justice Nicholas said today that he was satisfied it was “appropriate to make orders under Section 115a of the Copyright Act in respect to the target online locations” in a list prepared by the applicants that sought to have major Australian telcos block the sites.

Those orders will take the standard form that have been used in S115a actions; S115a allows copyright owners and licensees to seek injunctions directing local telcos block their customers from accessing overseas-based piracy-linked websites.

104 domains were targeted by the action. The domains are associated with 76 online locations that between them provide a variety of “linking, streaming and torrenting” services, a hearing earlier this month heard.

The application for a website-block under Australia’s anti-piracy laws was launched in December. The action has been led by Village Roadshow and supported by a group of studios associated with the Motion Picture Association of America: Disney, Columbia, Universal, Paramount, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal and Warner Bros. Australian distributor Madman Anime Group and Japan’s Tokyo Broadcasting System were also applicants in the Federal Court action.

Five telcos — Telstra, Optus, Vocus, TPG and Vodafone — will now have to take reasonable steps to block their customers from accessing the sites.

This action was the first brought in the anti-piracy regime first introduced in 2015 where the operator of a target online location has made a substantive effort to prevent the court blocking a site.

The owner of Greek-Movies.com contacted the presiding judge and the legal representatives of the applicants to make the case for his site to maintain unblocked.

A letter to the judge argued that the site “does not host, or publish in any other form, any kind of copyright material whatsoever”. “My site is just a search engine that refers users to third-party websites,” it stated.

Sites that link to unauthorised reproductions of material hosted elsewhere have previously been blocked using S115a.

Under the 2015 law, the relevant test for blocking a site is whether it has as its primary purpose infringing or facilitating the infringement of copyright. Since then that particular legal hurdle has been modified, with 2018 legislation requiring that a service has as its “primary effect” infringing or facilitating the infringement of copyright.

Last month a group of major music labels successfully obtained court orders directing major telcos to block their customers from accessing a collection of sites that offer ‘stream ripping’ services.

The four sites — 2conv, Flv2mp3, Convert2mp3 and Flvto — allow users to download audio or video from online streaming services that do not otherwise offer that option. In that case, the music labels cited the sites’ support for unauthorised downloading of audio tracks from YouTube videso.

Currently before the court is another application led by Roadshow targeting dozens of sites allegedly linked to online piracy. The action is backed by video streaming giant Netflix. It is the first time Netflix has taken such legal action in Australia to protect its content.

The sites originally targeted by Roadshow in today's action were: 01torrent.net; 1movies.nl; 1movies.biz; 1movies.pl; 1movies.ch; 1movies.is; 300mbfilms.co; 9putlocker.io; afdah.info; afdah.to; arawatch.video; cafehulu.com; cartoonson.tv; cartoonsons.com; dafreetv.net; tvdafree.com; filmlinks4u.is; gamatotv.co; gamatotv.me; gostream.site; greek-movies.com; iomovies.to; kat.tv; monova.to; 2movierulz.com; movierulz.ht; movierulz.gd; movierulz.pl; movierulzfree.me; moviewatcher.is; moviewatcher.io; o2tvseries.com; onlinemoviewatch.org; onlinemoviewatch.to; openloadmovies.net; otorrents.com; putlocker0.com; putlockerr.is; putlockers.co; putlockers.movie; putlockers.net; putlockers.tf; putlockers.id; putlockers.tv; putlockertv.ac; putlockerstv.se; putlockertv.ist; putlockertv.to; rainierland.is; scr.cr; seehd.pl; series9.io; solarmoviex.to; speed.cd; seriestop.online; srstop.online; streamlord.com; swatchseries.to; tamilyogi.nu; tamilyogi.fm; tamilyogi.cc; toonova.net; toptvshows.co; torrenting.com; tt.smallfoot.me; torrentking.eu; torrentking.to; torrentking.site; torrentleech.org; torrentwal.net; torrentyeah.com; twomovies.name; uwatchfree.online; uwatchfree.se; uwatchfree.tv; watchcartoonsonline.la; vtv16.com; watchonline.red; woohay.com; xpau.se; yify.is; yifyhdtorrent.com; ymovies.tv; anime1.com; animedao.com; Animeheaven.eu; animehub.ac; animeland.us; animeland.cc; animepahe.com; animerush.tv; chia-anime.tv; dubbedanime.net; horriblesubs.info; hotanime.me; justdubs.org; justdubsanime.net; kickassanime.io; nwanime.tv; toonget.net.

The final list of target sites was slightly amended before today's ruling.

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Tags TelecommunicationspiracyVillage Roadshowsite blocking laws

More about AustraliaMotionMotion Picture Association of AmericaNetflixOptusTwentieth Century FoxVillage RoadshowVodafoneWarner Bros

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