Village Roadshow the first to test Australia’s anti-piracy site-blocking laws

Village Roadshow will be the first rights holder to test out Australia's site-blocking laws passed by parliament in June last year. Rather than going for a big target such as The Pirate Bay or Kickass Torrents right off the bat, Village is looking to have local internet service providers (ISPs) block the somewhat less popular SolarMovie.

If successful, Australian ISPs would be forced to stop their subscribers accessing the website.

When a rights holder is seeking to block a website from being accessed in Australia, they must make a request via the Federal Court. This may take into account the flagrancy of the infringement, whether the location demonstrates a disregard for copyright, public interest, and whether the location has been disabled by any other country.

Village presumably see SolarMovie as a safe test run; it has already been blocked by court order in both the United Kingdom and Singapore.

Village Roadshow Co-Chief Executive Officer Graham Burke has become known as one of Australia's staunchest opponents to piracy, previously describing pirate website as "sleazy neighbourhoods" selling hardcore pornography, party pills, and steroids to children.

In August last year, ABC News reported that Foxtel is preparing to launch its own legal case. The pay TV giant has yet to specify which websites it will target.

While forcing an ISP to block a website that facilities piracy can make obtaining copyrighted content a little harder for the average user, it is only a minor hurdle for those determined to illegally download a TV show or movie. The use of a VPN, for example, would readily provide pirates with access to any website blocked under the new laws.

These sentiments were echoed by Greens Senator Scott Ludlam, who told rights holders "to stop pretending the internet doesn't exist" while the laws were under debate in Senate.

"If people are determined to pirate, it's very difficult to stop them," said Ludlam. "The government is ignoring the opportunity to work with content providers and remove the reasons for people currently accessing content through torrents and other sources. Just deliver content in a timely and affordable manner, and piracy collapses."

"If you want people to stop people getting ripped off, make it available."

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