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Australian Courts Order Blocking of 59 Piracy Sites as Movie Distributor Readies Lawsuits Against Downloaders

Over the past couple decades record labels and movie studios have tried numerous ways to fight piracy, including suing downloaders (US, UK) and forcing ISPs to block websites (UK, Belgium).

Neither has proven to be an effective technique for fighting piracy, but that hasn’t stopped Australian movie distributor Village Roadshow from announcing it will soon start suing alleged Australian pirates and from securing a court order to block 42 websites accused of piracy.

From Variety:

In major victories for Hollywood and the local film industries, Australian federal courts have ordered the country’s major telecoms and Internet providers to block access to 59 websites that carry pirated film and TV content. The studios and distributors have been fighting legal battles Down Under for several years.

The decisions came in two separate rulings Friday. In a case brought by Village Roadshow, the judge ordered telcos including Telstra, Optus and TPG to block 42 piracy sites. In a case brought by Foxtel, a second judge ordered the blocking of another 17 sites. The Internet service providers have 15 days to block the 59 sites and 127 domains.

In the Village Roadshow case, the judge said that copyright violations were “flagrant and reflect a blatant disregard for copyright owners.” Some, he said, even offered tutorials on “how to frustrate any legal action.”

Sites to be blocked include PrimeWire, MegaShare, EZTV, Limetorrents, Project Free TV, Watch Series, KissCartoon, PutLocker, GoMovies, EYNY and Kinogo. Following an earlier order, that brings the total number of sites blocked to 65, with a total of 340 domains.

Given how many sites have been blocked on the UK and Belgium with no appreciable drop in piracy, it’s not clear what VR expects to accomplish (emotional vindication, perhaps?).

The story goes on to state that that the company has announced plans to sue downloaders, or rather sue ISP customers whose IP addresses had been recorded downloading pirated movies.

However, Torrent Freak notes that the ISPs are unlikely to hand over subscriber info voluntarily, which means that VR will have to first sue the ISPs, an effort that might take years and could fail.

But even if it succeeds, and VR gets the subscriber contact info, it still doesn’t mean that they’ll make any money. Remember, IP addresses are not unique to a person, and furthermore they can be spoofed.

Copyright infringement lawsuits have been dismissed before based on the argument that you can’t prove who exactly pirated a video based solely on an IP. And researchers have also tricked anti-piracy companies into filing infringement notices for printers by spoofing said printers' IP addresses.

Between one and the other, these lawsuits are going to be defeated easily.

Clearly Village Roadshow is hoping that at least some alleged pirates will settle rather than fight, “We will be looking for damages commensurate with what they’ve done. We’ll be saying ‘You’ve downloaded our Mad Max: Fury Road, our Red Dog, and we want $40 for the four movies plus $200 in costs’,” VR co-chief Graham Burke said.

$200 AUD isn’t worth as much in Australia as it would be in the USA; things are more expensive there.

But it is still a hefty sum for most working folk.

How many do you think will pay to settle the accusation rather than fight?

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