Foxtel wants to force search engines to block pirate sites

Pay TV provider also wants to ditch a public interest test for website blocking injunctions

Foxtel wants to expand a proposed law that will force Internet service providers to block subscriber access to pirate websites.

The pay TV provider has argued that the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015, which is currently the subject of a parliamentary inquiry, should be modified so that search engines and other intermediaries will be forced to block websites associated with online piracy.

If passed, the bill will allow rights holders to apply for a court order that will oblige ISPs to block a particular overseas-based website.

In a submission (PDF) to the parliamentary inquiry, Foxtel argued that the bill should be modified to expand its application from ‘carriage service providers’ (i.e. telcos) to ‘service providers’ in general "so as to apply to service providers and intermediaries (eg search engine providers)”.

"This will ensure that the injunction power is technologically neutral and capable of broad application,” Foxtel argued.

The pay TV provider, along with other representatives of content industries, has also argued for a watering down of the legal test that will determine whether an order to block a website will be granted.

As it stands, the proposed legislation will cover websites based overseas whose “primary purpose” is copyright infringement or the facilitation of copyright infringement.

“Foxtel is concerned that this will create practical difficulties in terms of the evidence required to satisfy the test and uncertainty as to how a Court will apply it,” the company argued.

Instead it wants the threshold for granting an injunction modified to a “substantial purpose or effect”.

At the very least, Foxtel argued, the language should be changed from “the primary purpose" to “a primary purpose”, "given the multitude of purposes which may exist for an online location.”

The pay TV provider also wants a number of other protections in the bill watered down in order to make it easier to obtain injunctions, including a “public interest” test included in the proposed legislation.

The parliamentary inquiry into the bill is due to report on 13 May.

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