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Pirates of Oceania

Updated: Jun 28, 2018

Last week the Federal Court handed down a notable decision with regard to piracy that may make it somewhat, if perhaps not terribly harder for Australians to pirate their favourite movies or television shows, such as The Grand Tour (trailer below), said to be the most pirated show in the world.

The Federal Court ordered that internet service providers block five copyright infringing websites, namely:

  1. Torrentz

  2. TorrentHound

  3. IsoHunt

  4. SolarMovie

  5. The Pirate Bay

The sites either host torrent file links or provide a streaming service that allows users to download or watch content that is often pirated. Instead now, users will be met with a warning page saying access to such sites is restricted. 

Similar approaches have been used in various countries to prohibit access to specific websites, and as of today The Pirate Bay is blocked in around 25 countries, though the law does fluctuate in numerous countries, with The Pirate Bay being unblocked at times.

It’s important to note that the Federal Court decision does not provide a rolling injunction that would have allowed for the addition of new websites to the list without the consent of the court.

Accordingly, Village Roadshow already intends to return to court to block a further 50 sites. The dynamic ever-evolving nature of the internet piracy, however, make such exercises a constant game of catchup. Indeed the ruling has already boosted local interest for VPNs that allow users to circumvent geo-blocking. Earlier feedback is also that the techniques used by some ISP's to block pages (DNS blocking) are relatively easy to by-pass.

It’s worth noting that Australian cities have some of the highest rates of internet piracy in the world, and various attempts have been made to address this issue, for instance, the popular television series ‘Game of Thrones’, whose local piracy become so rampant that the US Ambassador to Australia asked that people please stop downloading it,  has moved to a simultaneous global release schedule. 

The advent of streaming services such as Netflix, Stan, Foxtel Play and the rumoured Australian incarnation of Amazon Prime Video has led to decreased rates of piracy.

Issues, however, remain around access and pricing. 

With the massive budgets that many television shows and films carry nowadays, in the case of the Grand Tour rumoured to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars for 12 episodes (though the exact figure is a source of some debate),  it’s not surprising that content producers are at pains to protect their intellectual property. The Federal Court may haven given intellectual property rights holders some comfort, but in the battle to eliminate online piracy, it's clear that there is still a long road ahead.

This information is intended for guidance purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you do need legal advice, however, get in touch with us!


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