Government introduces beefed up copyright amendments to block pirate websites

The federal government has introduced an amendment to the Copyright Act, giving local rights holders more power to fight copyright infringement by overseas pirate sites.

Today’s amendments are aimed at strengthening the website blocking provisions introduced in the government’s 2015 amendments, which allow local rights holders to obtain website blocking orders through the courts.

Fake Dictionary, definition of the word Copyright.

A broader range of overseas websites and file-hosting services will now fall under the scope of the law, with proxy and mirror pirate sites being targeted.

The amendments will also give copyright owners further powers to seek federal court orders requiring search engines to demote or remove search results for infringing sites.

In a submission to a review of the 2015 amendments earlier this year, Free TV Australia claimed the website blocking provisions had resulted in a 53.4% reduction in usage of alleged piracy sites with traffic to the top 50 dropping 35%.

Overall, Free TV Australia claimed piracy had dropped 25.4% between November 2017 and October 2016.

The amendments largely incorporate Free TV Australia’s recommendations to the review, amending the requirement that a rights holder needs to show an infringing website has a ‘primary purpose’ of infringing, or facilitating the infringement of, copyright while removing the obligation of copyright owner to show that a site is not hosted in Australia.

The bill will also enable copyright owners to seek injunctions requiring online search engine providers to downgrade or delist online locations blocked under the scheme.

Successful injunctions will allow the copyright owner and carriage service provider to block mirroring sites such as other domain names, URLs and IP addresses that start to provide access to the blocked location.

The amendments will also give the minister power to declare that particular online search engine providers, or classes of online search engine providers, be exempt from the scheme.

Minister for communications and the arts, Mitch Fifield, said: “Online piracy is theft. Downloading or streaming a pirated movie or TV show is no different to stealing a DVD from a shop,” he said.

“The government is providing enormous support to creative industries, including through small business tax relief and our location incentive program. We can’t have that good work undone by allowing local creators to be victims of online piracy.

“We are always looking at what more we can do, and we want copyright owners to have the right tools at their disposal to fight online piracy.”


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