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A controversial bill allowing overseas piracy websites to be blocked at the ISP level has successfully made its way through the Australian senate with a vote of 37 in favor versus 13 against.
As per the legislation, rights holders can go to a federal court and request websites whose primary purpose is to facilitate the sharing of copyrighted material be blocked. If the rights holders are successful, local ISPs will be ordered to disable access to the offending website(s).
The bill’s passing is viewed by some, like Simon Bush, head of the Australian Home Entertainment Distributors Association, as a watershed moment and a positive for the creative content industry.
Foxtel chief executive Richard Freudenstein echoed those sentiments. In a statement, he said the government recognized that not only is piracy considered theft and therefore morally wrong, it is harmful to Australia’s creative communities and to businesses that employ hundreds of thousands of Australians.
Naturally, not everyone agrees with the ruling.
Dr. Matthew Rimmer, an associate professor at the ANU College of Law, said the bill’s passing represents a dark day for the Internet in Australia. He points out that sites that don’t intend to host pirated content, like Mega or Dropbox, could get caught in the dragnet and end up getting wrongfully blocked.
Several specifics regarding the bill went unaddressed, leading Australian Greens Senator Scott Ludlam to label it as lazy and dangerous.
Service providers aren’t exactly thrilled over the matter either because it’s not clear who will be responsible for paying to have sites blocked.