Last Update May 3 2017
Kick Ass Torrents site will be blocked in Australia within the next two weeks after the Federal Court handed down orders blocking the sites.
Kick Ass Torrents’ sites receive millions of visits a month from Australian users and its breach of copyright was described as “flagrant” by Federal Court judge Stephen Burley in a judgment handed down late on Friday.
“The large number of monthly visits to the KAT website indicate that the infringement facilitated by the KAT website can be described as flagrant and reflect an open disregard for copyright on the part of the operators of the KAT website,”
Justice Burley said.
KAT has already been blocked in Britain, Ireland, Denmark, Italy, Finland and Belgium.
The orders came after the Australian arms of Universal Music, Australian Music Corporation, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music as well as the Australasian Performing Right Association, some of the world’s biggest music groups, teamed up to stamp out illegal downloads across the sites last year.
A consortium of Australian Recording Industry Association members including the Australian arms of major labels Universal, Warner and Sony, as well as local label J. Albert & Son, filed for an injunction in the Federal Court to have Kickass and “related proxy sites” blocked in Australia under the Copyright Act.
“Online infringement continues to be a major threat to the sustainability of the Australian music industry,” said Jenny Morris OAM, chair of the Australasian Performing Right Association.
“Illegal offshore sites like Kickass Torrents show a complete disrespect for music creators and the value of music.”
Kickass Torrents is “torrent tracker” website like The Pirate Bay. Using such service users can find files like movies or music hosted on other people’s computers, and then share them directly using a peer-to-peer protocol known as torrenting.
Previous attempts by government departments to block sites have backfired massively. In 2013, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission inadvertently blocked access to a quarter of a million websites when it instructed ISPs to block a particular IP address.
Critics of the legislation have argued that Australians will still be able to access targeted sites if they use a virtual private network, which hides a user’s destination from their ISP.
And, of course, customers of smaller, independent ISPs not specifically mentioned in an injunction would still be able to access a targeted website.
“We know from international experience that site blocking does not work,”
said Laurie Patton, chief executive of Internet Australia, which represents internet users.
“It’s called whack-a-mole: you close down one site and it reopens somewhere else, either at a different IP address or with a different name.”
However rights holders argue that blocking easy access for the general public to copyright infringing sites is enough of a deterrent to reduce piracy.