News that rightsholders have taken legal action to have several prominent ‘pirate’ sites blocked at the ISP level in Australia did not come as a surprise.
Following changes to the law last year it was always presumed that local TV and Hollywood-affiliated studios would take full advantage of the legislation in order to reduce the number of Internet subscribers being able to access unauthorized content.
Village Roadshow and Hollywood vs SolarMovie
This morning further details became available on two separate actions. The first was filed by entertainment outfit Village Roadshow supported by Disney, 20th Century Fox, Paramount, Columbia, Universal and Warner Bros.
The action names Telstra and 49 other local Internet service providers as respondents and contains demands for them to block a streaming portal called Solarmovie plus several of its domains including SolarMovie.ph, .is, .com and .eu.
Also listed are four IP addresses currently used by the site but the application indicates that the studios want to be able to block additional IPs and domains should the site begin to move around. The studios have requested both DNS and IP address blocking “plus any alternative technical means” as agreed in writing with the ISPs.
Future potential visitors to SolarMovie will be greeted with a special landing page which informs Internet subscribers that the page has been blocked following a court order. The page will be hosted by the studios will enable them to track the number of visitors to the site and even their IP addresses.
The application also states that should ISPs become aware that any URL or IP address is no longer being used for infringement, they will no longer be required to block it. Furthermore, if ISPs temporarily fail to block SolarMovie due to technical issues, they will not be in breach of the order.
Also of interest is a clause which allows SolarMovie to file an application to have the blockade lifted. There’s no sign yet of that happening but TorrentFreak has spoken with the site’s operator who says he’s surprised at all the attention.
“I’m actually surprised that Solarmovie has gained so much attention,” he informs TF.
In comments yesterday Graham Burke, the co-chief executive of Village Roadshow, described SolarMovie as “a particularly vicious bunch of thieves” but its operator rejects that assertion.
“It’s definitely not the biggest linking site available [SolarMovie is ranked #1,500 by Alexa] and it strictly follows the DMCA at least,” he says.
Burke also said the site was “making illicit millions” with “disgusting advertising”, adding that there were “sexual ads” on the platform. SolarMovie rejects that too.
“No sexual ads are allowed on the site for sure. Furthermore, logged in users don’t see any ads at all,” the site’s operator says.
Foxtel vs The Pirate Bay, Torrentz, TorrentHound and IsoHunt
The application filed by Foxtel is largely the same as the one filed by the studios and targets the sites listed above. The respondents are 17 local ISPs including iiNet, Telstra and Optus, and requires that each company’s subsidiaries also carry out blocking.
In common with the Village Roadshow application, DNS and IP address blocking is requested for The Pirate Bay, Torrentz, TorrentHound and IsoHunt but expands significantly with the addition of many alternative domains, mirrors, clones and proxies.
For The Pirate Bay alone the TV outfit demands a blockade of 37 separate domains and even more IP addresses. For Torrentz there are 11 domains and almost four times as many IP addresses listed, with TorrentHound and isoHunt weighing in at eight and five domains respectively.
Again, visitors to the sites will be redirected to a landing page and there are no penalties should ISPs have to temporarily suspend blocking due to technical issues. The application as it stands does not request that site operators should have the right of appeal.
Since the text of both applications has been negotiated with the ISPs, it’s expected that they will pass largely unamended and rubber-stamped by the court. The applications will then essentially become a template for future actions of which there will be many in the months and years to come.