A court in Australia has ordered the blocking of multiple fan sub websites. The ruling represents a major win for corporate copyright holders.
Censorship continues to spread in the land down under. Under the 2015 site blocking laws, various corporate interests gained a whole new set of powers to block websites. The laws were really only intended on blocking sites that distributed content that infringed on copyright directly. Of course, as most already know, once censorship is established, censorship creep begins to set in. If we can censor this set of websites, how can we expand those laws to order the blocking of other content?
At the time, some dismissed that argument as merely conspiracy theories. It’s only going after the most egregious and obvious of offenders of copyright. Well, fast forward to 2018 and we are already seeing the expansion of censorship orders. The Village Roadshow, known to have lobbied Australian lawmakers with millions to expand copyright laws, has scored a legal victory against fan-subs.
Fan-subs are basically small text files with time stamps. They are meant to go with various movies and TV shows that have not yet been translated into other languages. They don’t actually contain the copyrighted material in question itself. So, if you have a movie that you paid money for that is not available in a certain language, one could go on a fan sub site, download the translated text made by volunteers, and attach it to that movie you legally paid for so that your friend can enjoy it in his native language.
Enter the Village Road Show. The corporate lobbyist organization went to court and argued that fan-subs are basically a literary work. It’s based off of the copyrighted material and would, therefore, count as a derivitive work. As such, the volunteer efforts count as copyright infringement. So, in an effort to crack down on those who contribute to the quality of the work (and, some might argue, make the world a worse place), they went to court to order the blocking of these sites. From ZDNet:
Under the judgement [PDF] handed down by Justice Nicholas, ISPs including Telstra, Optus, Vocus, TPG, and Vodafone have 15 business days to serve orders demanding website takedown.
ISPs must also do one or more of the following: enact DNS Blocking of the domain names highlighted in the judgement; block the IP addresses as well as any websites that re-route to the aforementioned websites; block the URLs associated with the subtitle websites; as well as perform what it can to disable access to the online locations.
Failure to do the above, Nicholas J wrote, will require ISPs to notify Roadshow within 15 business days of the steps it has implemented.
Domain names to be blocked are: 2ddl, 8maple.ru, 9anime.is, Addic7ed, Anilinkz, Animefreak, Animeshow, Avxhm, azmaple.com, Bilutv, Bt-scene, Cartooncrazy, Cmovieshd, DailyTVFix, Ddlvalley, Dnvod, dramacity.io, dramahk.me, Fmovies.io, Glodls, Gogoanime, Hdpopcorns, hindilinks4u.to, hkfree.co, icdrama.se, icdramase, ilovehks.com, IPTorrents, Kantv, Kimcartoon, Kissanime, kisscartoon.ac, m4ufree.com, Masterani.me, Myanimeseries, Nyaa, Nzbplanet, Ondarewatch, Openloadmovies, Opensubtitles.org, Otakustream, Phimbathu, Putlocker.ac, Putlockerhd.co, qooxi.net, Rmz, Rutracker.org, Scnsrc, Seasonvar, Seriesfree, Solarmoviez, Soul-anime, streamtvb.com, Subscene, Subsmovies, Torrentday, Torrentfunk, Torrentmovies, Tvbox, Tw116, Two-movies, Ultra-vid, Usabit, VexMovies, viewasian.tv, Vkool, Vmovee, Watchanimeonline.me, Watchcartoononline.com, Watchcartoononline.io, Watchonlinemovies, Watchseries-online, woaikanxi.cc, Yify-movies, Yifysubtitles, Ymovies.tv, Zimuzu, and Zooqle.
Of course, as many people will be happy to point out, such blocking is actually trivial to defeat. If it’s a DNS block, users can still access the sites through the IP address. If further measures are taken to block access, then a simple proxy, VPN, or even the TOR network can easily defeat such blocks.
Still, what this case shows is that rights holders will never be satisfied with restricting copyright laws. If they get mass litigation of file-sharers, that isn’t enough, so they demand a three strikes law. If they get a three strikes law, then they’ll demand more and demand site blocking. When they get site-blocking, then they’ll demand that other sites should be blocked as well. When they get that, they’ll demand that mirrors and proxies be blocked. It just keeps going and going until the country says enough is enough. You’ve trampled on civil rights long enough in your ill-advised quest to stamp out piracy. Deal with the tools you already have.
Unfortunately for Australia, things will likely get worse before it gets better. There’s already legislation being pushed forward that further increases censorship in the country. The legislation was passed in the lower house without any evidence that such laws are needed in the first place.
We’ll continue to monitor the situation in Australia.