The world’s biggest film studios have launched a legal attack on Australia’s telecommunications giants, demanding they stop pirating films like Lego movie, Toy story and Transformers.
A coalition of seven studios – Village Roadshow, Columbia, Warner Bros., Netflix, Disney, Paramount and Universal – wants an injunction against 48 Internet Service Providers (ISPs) preventing Australians from visiting 34 websites linked to illegal content piracy.
Telecom operators include Telstra, Optus and TPG, which together operate most of Australia’s internet services.
Studios claim websites blatantly disregard copyright laws and should be blocked by ISPs, federal court documents obtained by The new daily reveal.
“Disabling access to target online locations [the movie piracy sites] is in the public interest, ”the studios say in documents filed with the court.
“No other remedy under the Copyright Act is reasonably practicable or reasonably likely to be effective for these violations. “
If successful, the legal offer would be a major victory for the big studios in their fight against illegal streaming in Australia, which is known worldwide as a hotspot for movie piracy.
Marc C-Scott, a senior lecturer in screen media at Victoria University, said the legal fight will be “closely watched” around the world as studios seek to break into the online streaming market with their movies on demand.
Dr C-Scott said movie studios have been encouraged by a recent surge in online streaming services by Paramount and Disney.
“Previously, the argument for many Australians was that they couldn’t access the content, so they pirate [it]”said Dr C-Scott The New Daily.
“But that argument doesn’t hold up as much now, because we have access to more streaming services and there are many more to come.
“Online and streaming now play such a big part of their business. “
The case names various movies and TV shows, including Spider Man, Toy story, Jurassic World, The Big Bang Theory and Strange things.
The studios allege that these movies and shows are available on 34 different pirate websites, which allow users to illegally stream their content for free and provide links to other pirated shows on the internet.
“The main purpose of the effect of target online locations [piracy sites] is to infringe or facilitate copyright infringement, ”the studios claim.
The case follows a federal court order in April last year that forced telecom operators to block access to more than 50 domains associated with illegal hacking.
Movie studios are expected to base their case on a 2018 law passed by the federal government that makes it easier to block pirate websites.
Other countries like the UK, Denmark, Spain and India have similar laws, which allow websites to be blocked faster if the ISPs do not object.
Dr C-Scott said some Australians are still turning to illegal streaming, despite movie studios making their content available on their sites.
He said the trend for exclusive content on these online platforms has started to make online streaming look like traditional cable TV.
“We have so many streaming platforms and you have to pay for all of them to get the content – we’re almost going back to pay TV,” he said.
“There is a back and forth between the studio business model and the user and subscriber experience.
But Dr C-Scott said cases like this make some people think twice.
“There will be people who always pirate content,” he said.
“But there will be someone on the edge who will look into this matter and say, ‘Maybe I won’t do that.’
A hearing date has not been set.