What is Site Blocking?

An Overview

In 2015, the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015 (Cth) passed through the Australian Senate, providing content copyright owners and licensees with the ability to take action against websites that infringe their Intellectual Property rights. Rightsholders can apply to the Federal Court for an injunction (a court order compelling someone to stop doing something) directing Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block access to websites that infringe copyrighted content when:

  • The geographical origin of the website is located outside of Australia; and
  • The website has the ‘primary purpose’ of infringing, or facilitating the infringement of, copyright. In essence, the rightsholders are responsible for initiating the action, the Court reviews the evidence and supervises the process and the granting of an injunction (including its terms), and the ISP then complies with the injunction.

Does it Work?

Siteblocking has been an enormously successful tool in the fight against piracy in Australia. Since 2015, 519 websites comprising 1,698 domains hosting illegal content have been blocked by Australian ISP’s. The result has been a 42% reduction in the volume of visits to pirate sites (2018). Creative Content Australia’s 2020 research shows that 61% of adult pirates have experienced a blocked site. On encountering a block, 67% have turned to an alternative legal source to access the same content.

Site blocking is effective because it creates a barrier to deter users from accessing infringing content and instead encourages them to seek out legitimate content. With an increasing number of online content services providing a plethora of content, it has never been easier for Australians to find something to watch, when they want to watch it.

Further Reading:

A research study conducted in Australia by Incopro in 2018 echoes the findings of a previous UK study by Carnegie-Mellon University which showed that overall piracy was significantly reduced when a substantial number of sites were blocked simultaneously.

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