Australian Senate Passes Anti-Piracy, Website-Blocking Laws

Your days of pirating music, movies and TV shows through file sharing sites are numbered, with the Australian Senate’s successful passing of the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill.

The legislation, which passed with the bipartisan support of both the Coalition and Labor, allows rights holders to appeal to a Federal Court judge to block overseas websites that have the “primary purpose” of facilitating copyright infringement.

Popular file sharing and torrenting websites like The Pirate Bay and KickAssTorrents are likely to be amongst the first sites targeted by rights holders under the new legislation. So it’s probably time you say farewell to those guys.

Many industry figures have already thrown their support behind the legislation.

Vanessa Hutley, General Manager Music Rights Australia, said the bill gives the creative community “an effective tool to disrupt illegal off shore sites which make millions of dollars from advertising but give nothing back to the artists whose work they systematically exploit on a massive scale.”

“Australian consumers have over 30 licensed online music sites to choose from across a range of platforms and at price points, including free on advertising supported services,” she continued, “yet these illegal sites have continued to flourish and make money for their operators because there was nothing the copyright owners could do locally to stop them. Until now.”

However the new legislation is not without its detractors. As reported by Fairfax, Greens Senator Scott Ludlam has described the bill as “lazy and dangerous” and argued that “site-blocking is not the most effective means of stopping piracy.”

“My concern really isn’t that this bill is going to do anything to protect artists and make sure they get paid for their work, because obviously everybody supports that,” he told the ABC, “but the potential down the track is for the scope of the bill to be broadened and for the extremely loose and poorly defined language in the bill to be exploited as well.”

Similarly, associate professor at the ANU College of Law Dr Matthew Rimmer said the bill’s ambiguity means there is a possibility that sites that don’t host copyright infringing material could get caught up and blocked.

“I think the larger question will be what sites will be affected?” he said. “Will rights holders be focussed on the sites they want to target or will there be collateral damage?”

The Australian Greens voted against the legislation, along with fellow Senators David Leyonhjelm, Glenn Lazarus and Ricky Muir.

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