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Foxtel and Roadshow win bid to block over 50 piracy sites

The Federal Court has ordered Australian ISPs to block more than 200 separate domains, but some of those sites are already on the move.

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Australians will soon face roadblocks when they try to access a raft of piracy sites.

Seamus Byrne/CNET

Accessing pirate sites on the internet just got that little bit harder in Australia.

In two concurrent cases brought by Foxtel and Roadshow Films against Australia's biggest internet service providers, the Federal Court of Australia has ordered ISPs to block access to more than 50 pirate sites within three weeks. 

The total block list from both rights holders includes 66 separately-listed websites, though many of them (including sites like Putlocker) appear under the same name with different URLs. In total, 209 domains (many of them URLs that differ by just a few letters or numbers) are set to be blocked.

But in a sign of just how difficult site-blocking is, a number of those sites have already moved themselves. 

Foxtel brought its case in May as part of a long-running battle against pirate sites, which has played out in the courts in recent months under the government's anti-piracy site-blocking legislation.

Last year, Foxtel and Roadshow jointly won a bid to block The Pirate Bay, alongside other torrenting sites. In April this year, the Federal Court also ordered Aussie ISPs to block torrenting site Kickass Torrents (though in that case, Foxtel appeared in the case as a responding ISP, thanks to its double-threat role as content producer and internet provider).

Today's decision is another step forward for rights holders, not just Foxtel and Roadshow, who have long been pushing to cut off supply for Australia's pirating habit.

The Federal Court has given ISPs -- including iiNet, TPG, Telstra, Optus, Virgin Mobile and Dodo -- 15 business days to take "reasonable steps" to disable the online locations. The sites can be blocked using DNS blocking, IP address blocking or rerouting or URL blocking. However a number of the domains listed in the court ruling have already disappeared, with the URLs now redirecting to web hosting pages from GoDaddy

Foxtel CEO Peter Tonagh welcomed the court order, saying it was another "critical step" in combating the piracy that undermines Australia's creative industry.

"The Government's passage of the site blocking legislation, and the Court's continued willingness to impose site blocking orders,  illustrates the gravity of the threat and the concern we should all have about protecting the hard work of the actors, writers, directors and production teams involved in creating the programming we all love," Tonagh wrote in an emailed statement. 

"We will continue to do our part in shedding light on the seriousness of intellectual property theft, while simultaneously helping to ensure our content is available quickly, easily and at a price that suits their budgets."

First published August 18, 4:16 p.m. AEST.

Update, August 21 at 10:50 a.m.: Adds detail about Roadshow Films case and updated domain count.  

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