Keeping the pirates at bay

Posted on January 25th, 2017

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In December 2016 the Federal Court of Australia handed down its decision in Roadshow Films Pty Ltd v Telstra Corporation Ltd [2016] FCA 1503. This case represents a clear win for copyright holders.

The applicants, Foxtel and Roadshow Films, applied to the Court for an order requiring Internet Service Providers (ISPs) such as Telstra, Optus and TPG to block access to websites such as The Pirate Bay, Torrentz, TorrentHound, IsoHunt, and Solar Movie.

The application was made under section 115A of the Copyright Act 1968, under which copyright owners must show that a foreign hosted website has the primary purpose of facilitating copyright infringement.

The applicants alleged the relevant websites were situated outside Australia and that they infringed, or facilitate the infringement of copyright of large numbers of movies and television shows.

In assessing the primary purpose of the websites, the Court looked at the principal activity of the website and the principal intention of its users. The Federal Court was satisfied that the primary purpose of the websites was copyright infringement. In relation to The Pirate Bay the Court said the facilitation of copyright was a “blatant and wilful disregard for the rights of copyright owners”. Similar findings were made in relation to the other websites. As such, the Court ruled that ISPs must take reasonable steps to stop customers accessing these file-sharing websites.

The decision marks the first time that site blocking laws introduced in 2015 have been successfully used in Australia.


Katie ThompsonKatie Thompson is a Solicitor at Mullane & Lindsay Solicitors and practises in the Commercial dispute resolution and litigation team. If you require any assistance in this area please contact Katie Thompson to arrange a consultation or contact our Newcastle or Sydney office. 

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