Foxtel to pursue online pirate

Foxtel is getting ready to launch the first court action under legislation designed to block web sites that illegally offer film and TV content.

The company will ask the Federal Court to order ISPs to take down the offending site, with the application expected early in the new year.

Foxtel has declined to name the site but Bruce Meagher, group director, corporate affairs, tells IF, “We have a clear and strong case, particularly as it relates to Foxtel-owned content.”

In the UK there have been about 15 applications in the past three years which resulted in the blocking of more than 100 sites. Among those blocked were Kickass Torrents, The Pirate Bay, Project-Free TV, various iterations of TorrentDownloads, Watch Online Series, G2G, Axxo Movies and Popcorn Time IO.

Meanwhile the copyright infringement notice scheme, which was due to come into effect on September 1, the target date set by the federal government, is stalled.

The code will apply to about 70 ISPs and will entail the telcos sending up to three warning notices to fixed-line residential users whom rights holders claim are infringing copyright, with a cap of 200,000 in the first 12 months.

The ACMA cannot approve the code until ISPs repped by the Communications Alliance and copyright holders agree on how to apportion the costs of implementing the graduated warning scheme.

The Communications Alliance commissioned a report from PwC which claimed the cost of issuing each notice would be $27, which content owners regard as vastly inflated. In New Zealand the cost is $25, which has rendered the code unworkable for film and TV companies.

Content owners have told Communications Minister Mitch Fifield there is an impasse over the sharing of costs, which raises the prospect of some form of government intervention.

A spokesperson for the Minister tells IF, “The government strongly encourages all parties to continue to work collaboratively to bring a code into operation, as requested in December 2014. However, if negotiations between industry leaders have reached a stalemate, the government would expect the relevant parties to explore all options to achieve an outcome on this important matter.”

Simon Bush, CEO of the Australian Home Entertainment Distributors Association, says, “We continue to work with ISPs to resolve outstanding matters related to the code and remain hopeful that issues can be resolved. However, the government has previously indicated that should parties not be able to reach agreement then the Minister reserves the right to decide outstanding matters."