The direct route to get an injunction to stop copyright infringement
A new bill before the federal parliament would allow copyright owners to take immediate action to enforce their rights by applying directly to the Federal Court for an injunction to stop copyright infringement.
If awarded, the injunction would compel Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block access to certain copyright infringing websites.
Going straight to the Federal Court for copyright infringement
A copyright owner would be able to apply to the Federal Court for an injunction against a website that infringes copyright or facilitates copyright infringement as its primary purpose, and as well generally must notify the ISP and the website operator who may apply to be joined to the proceeding.
Whether the court grants an injunction depends on factors that include seriousness of the copyright infringement, whether overseas courts have issued orders to block the website (for example in the UK) and whether the owner or operator of the website demonstrates a disregard for copyright generally.
What would this mean for infringing websites and ISPs?
Well, what about an overseas Youtube video that offers copyrighted material (without the owner’s permission) to a user in Australia? As it does not have copyright infringement as its primary purpose, it would fall outside the reach of the amendment.
In practice, the amendment may catch fewer websites than you might expect because of the primary purpose requirement. The kinds of websites that would fall within its reach include those that host bittorrent files for the express purpose of facilitating downloads.
For websites of that kind, the bill does not set out in detail how ISPs ought to disable access and instead simply prescribes ”reasonable steps” to be taken by the ISP at its own expense which the explanatory memorandum estimates at well over $100,000 per year.
What to expect moving forward
The proposed amendment would complement recent moves against online copyright infringement both from the courts (which we discuss in this previous LawAnswers Blog post) as well as industry bodies (which we discuss in this previous LawAnswers Blog post).
It would also pull Australia more in line internationally, for example with the UK where ISPs have the reassurance of a court order when blocking websites for copyright infringement.
There is an overall trend of crackdown against online copyright infringement, which is expected to continue as we track forthcoming developments.
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