Kick Ass Torrents sites blocked in Australia after request from music giants

Jessica Mauboy at Sydney’s Mardi Gras in 2016. Mauboy’s works were also available for illegal downloading on the Kick Ass Torrents sites. Photo: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images.

The likes of Justin Bieber and AC/DC can rest easy after the Federal Court kicked the rear end of one of the world’s most popular pirate downloading sites.

Domains tied to torrent sharing service Kick Ass Torrents will be blocked in the next two weeks after the Federal Court handed down orders blocking the sites.

Kick Ass Torrents’ sites receive millions of visits a month from Australian users and its breach of copyright was described as “flagrant” by Federal Court judge Stephen Burley in a judgment handed down late on Friday.

The orders came after the Australian arms of Universal Music, Australian Music Corporation, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music as well as the Australasian Performing Right Association, some of the world’s biggest music groups, teamed up to stamp out illegal downloads across the sites last year.

In a star-studded statement of claim, the various music and entertainment groups had argued that users of the KAT website had infringed the copyright of various works licensed by the groups.

Artists whose copyright was infringed according to the licensees included Fall Out Boy, Justin Bieber and Ellie Goulding (Universal); AC/DC (AMC), Guy Sebastian and Jessica Mauboy (Sony) and Major Lazer and the Kite String Tangle (Warner).

Twenty internet service providers, including telecommunications giants TPG (which owns iiNet) and Telstra have been given 15 days to take reasonable steps to block the sites.

Justice Burley said he was satisfied the primary purpose of the Kick Ass Torrent site “is to infringe or to facilitate the infringement of 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,” he said.

KAT has already been blocked in Britain, Ireland, Denmark, Italy, Finland and Belgium.

A host of The Pirate Bay’s sites were blocked in Australia late last year.

However, the orders won’t necessarily stamp out the use of Kick Ass Torrents in Australia. When The Pirate Bay was blocked in December, a host of proxy sites popped up in its place. Those sites allowed Australian users to access the content loaded up to the platforms.

Kick Ass Torrents also has a number of proxy sites where thousands of movies, TV shows and music albums and singles can be downloaded for free.

The orders also allow for the music companies to contact the court if a new Kick Ass Torrent site rears its head and have that site name added to the list of blocked domains.

The music companies have been ordered to pay the ISPs’ costs.

A spokeswoman for Telstra said the telecommunications group would comply with the orders from the court as it had done in previous cases.

“Online copyright infringement is a serious issue. We support flexible, fair and workable approaches to reduce online infringement and protect intellectual property,” the spokeswoman said.

This article first appeared on Business Day. See the original article here.

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