Foxtel wants to make it cheaper to block pirate sites

Seeks to cut costs of court hearings

Foxtel is seeking to block another 15 websites it claims are linked to piracy, with the pay TV company today telling a Federal Court hearing that it was eager to finds ways to reduce the costs of applications for site-blocking injunctions.

The company is seeking to have TPG, Optus, Telstra and Vocus as well as a number of the ISPs’ subsidiaries block access to around 27 domains used by around 15 individual sites. The sites are linked to BitTorrent or streaming services, Foxtel said.

The pay TV company said that site-blocking applications had so far proved “quite cumbersome” and outlined a number of measures it proposed in order to cut their costs. The company doesn’t intend to have an expert witness present evidence during the hearing of the application, for example.

It also said it did not intend to stage a live demonstration of the sites’ operations. Live demos have been a fixture of previous site-blocking applications; Foxtel said instead it would prepare videos and screenshots for the presiding judge, Justice Nicholas.

Foxtel said it was proposing an order that would allow it to not serve its evidence to the four key telcos listed in the application for injunction if it received notification from them that they did not desire to see it.

As with all site-blocking applications bar the initial flurry soon after the law came into effect, the telcos are not expected to enter an appearance.

The company requested that Justice Nicholas consider dealing with the application “on the papers”, but the judge declined.

A hearing for the application has been set for 18 June.

Foxtel was one of the pioneer users of the web-blocking provisions introduced into Australian copyright law in 2015. Those provisions allow for Federal Court injunctions that can force ISPs to block their subscribers from accessing sites that engage in or facilitate copyright infringement, as long as the sites in question are based overseas.

Foxtel in 2016 had an injunction granted that compelled Australia’s biggest telcos to block access to The Pirate Bay, Torrentz, TorrentHound and IsoHunt. That application was heard alongside one from entertainment company Roadshow, who along with Foxtel has so far been the most prolific user of the site-blocking provisions in the Copyright Act.

In mid-2017, Foxtel successfully applied for another site-blocking injunction targeting 17 sites.

Both Foxtel and Roadshow have pushed for the site-blocking regime to be expanded. For example, Foxtel has indicated it would like online service providers such as Google to potentially be brought within the scope of the legislation.