Justice Burley of the Federal Court has made orders blocking access to seven domain names for the Kickass Torrents website. The orders were sought by Australian music studios (including Sony, Universal and Warner) and by the copyright royalty collecting agency, Australasian Performing Rights Association Ltd and Australian Music Corporation Pty Ltd.
Kickass Torrents (often referred to simply as “KAT”) was a well-known website which hosted information which assisted the unauthorized peer-to-peer sharing of information, including pirated music and movie files. The primary domain for the website was seized by US government agencies in July 2016, and the alleged owner of the site arrested. Following the action in the US, the music studios amended their case to seek website blocking orders against new domain names which have sprung up to direct users to mirrors of the original KAT website.
The Website Blocking Orders
The structure and nature of orders made by Justice Burley largely mirror those made in the Foxtel and Roadshow proceeding in December 2016:
- Access to the relevant domains will need to be disabled within the next 15 days;
- The blocking orders will operate for a period of three years;
- Should the music studios wish to expand the orders to cover additional domain names for new Kickass Torrents proxy sites they must file an affidavit and proposed orders with the Court;
- The music studios must pay to the ISPs' $50 per domain name blocked, being the costs of compliance, but are not required to pay the ISPs' costs of setting up their domain-name blocking systems.
The Future of Website Blocking
Following this case, and the Foxtel and Roadshow case, it is likely that the procedure for copyright owners to obtain website blocking orders in order to prevent online piracy of movies, television programs and music via illegal file sharing and streaming, will be far more streamlined and efficient.
Roadshow's second application under s 115A of the Copyright Act, which was filed on 24 February 2017, is listed for a half day hearing on 10 May 2017. The majority of ISPs have opted not to participate in that case. Only TPG has indicated that it might play an active role in the proceeding.