Big Content picks first download-block target: THE SUN!

Pirate-site SolarMovie first test for Australia's not-a-filter Internet filter


Australia might be set to join the UK and Singapore in bringing down the boom on an unlicensed Philippines-registered movie-streaming website.

SolarMovie – here, for those who want to see how long it takes to get blocked from ordinary Australian web users – has attracted the ire of Hollywood for freely streaming movies and TV series.

The Philippines-registered but apparently Latvian-hosted outfit was added to the UK's blocklist after a 2013 High Court case.

This week it was also added to Singapore's no pasarán list, according to the Straits Times.

In Australia, the usual suspects will wheel their lawyerly flea circus into court: Village Roadshow, with backing by Hollywood studios Warner Bros, Paramount, Universal, Sony, Disney and 21st Century Fox, will be the name at the top of the papers in a Federal Court lawsuit.

The Sydney Morning Herald notes that it's the first action to be taken under last year's amendments to Australia's Copyright Act, which give the nation's Federal Court the power to instruct internet service providers to block an infringing site. The it's-not-an-Internet-filter law was sponsored by prime minister Malcolm Turnbull in his tenure as communications minister.

The decision to take the front-door approach to having the infringing site follows Dallas Buyers Club abandoning its attempt to pry open local ISP iiNet's customer database for names of end users it reckoned Torrented its movie.

Village Roadshow and its stateside pals had previously failed in an attempt to shake down iiNet for the alleged cost of its customers' infringement. That court case, and the subsequent content industry lobbying in Canberra, arguably led to the legislation that will get its first test in the action against SolarMovie.

If the UK experience is anything to go by, the action could pass unchallenged, since the ISPs don't have a good reason to line up behind the site.

That would leaving only Australia's VPN users able to connect to SolarMovie. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) February 2015 research reckoned at the end of 2014 around 700,000 Australians were already accessing overseas-based video content, as many as half of which were Netflix subscribers and therefore had to be using VPNs. ®


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