KickAss Torrents blocked in Australia for three years, federal court rules

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Kickass Torrents
Kickass Torrents' official Twitter account remains online while the website's various domains have been seized and blocked by authorities worldwide. Twitter/@kickasstorrents

The Australian federal court ordered over 20 Australian ISPs to block KickAss Torrents across several domains at the expense of right holders.  The order will be effective for the next three years, which means the website will not be accessible to users in Australia until the order expires.

The right holders, led by Warner Music, Universal Music, Sony Music and J Albert & Son, argued that KickAss Torrents demonstrated a “complete disrespect for music creators and the value of music.” The music studios launched legal action under website-blocking laws last year.

A new list of domains was reportedly passed by the right holders in the middle of legal proceedings. Justice Burley agreed that KickAss Torrents is infringing or facilitating copyright. “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,” Burley said per Fairfax Media.

Right holders were required to pay each ISP $50 to cover “compliance costs” for the DNS blocking of every domain. In December, a federal court ruling saw other torrent sites such as TorrentHound, IsoHunt and SolarMovie, The Pirate Bay and Torrentz blocked by ISPs.

Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Act 2015 allows website blocking and permits right holders to acquire a court order to block websites hosted overseas that operate for the primary purpose of infringing or facilitating infringement of copyright under Section 115A. Justice Burley said significant number of monthly visits to KickAss Torrents show that the infringement has turned flagrant. He also believed that the website’s popularity mirrored a public disregard for copyright on the part of the operators of KickAss Torrents, Sydney Morning Herald reported. 

Kickass Torrents has been taken down by the United States government last year. The site, which was used to illegally download music, movies and television shows, was also banned in the United Kingdom.

A major issue that comes with such type of blockade is that a site may be able to move at any time and will be accessible once restored. The order is limited to a certain domain and ISPs must block the actual address. Users are likely to gain access easily since websites, especially torrent sites, can easily change domains. The effectiveness of the blocking is yet to be seen, with infringing sites continuously remerging under various domains not blocked by the court order.

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