May 7, 2016 12:25 pm
ISPs and rights holders have spent Friday morning in Sydney's Federal Court arguing about who should pay for Australia's site blocking scheme.
It's the first site blocking case to make it to court, and is a test of the laws which were passed in June last year.
I couldn't make it to court for the directions hearing, but the the story has been covered by Australia's wonderful tech journos. Links below:
Australian internet service providers caught up in legal requests to deny access to a handful of overseas alleged piracy sites are standing firm against having to pay the costs of implementing the blocks.
TPG (including subsidiaries such as iiNet), Telstra, Optus and M2 have confirmed they don’t intend to oppose Federal Court applications by Foxtel and Village Roadshow that seek to have the ISPs block their customers access a collection of piracy-linked websites.
Who should have to pay to block sites that host pirated content? ISPs and copyright holders both say "not us".
For fun, here's how the directions hearing went down:
Substantial agreement between ISPs and rights holders but some issues still in dispute #siteblock— Rohan Pearce (@rohan_p) May 5, 2016
Telstra disagrees with rights holders over court and compliance costs— Josh Taylor (@joshgnosis) May 5, 2016
There's still dispute between parties as to the cost of compliance -- in other words, the $$ of actually blocking the sites #siteblock— Ariel Bogle (@arielbogle) May 5, 2016
Rights holders want the case dealt with as soon as possible. #siteblock— Josh Taylor (@joshgnosis) May 5, 2016
Rights holders believe there is “nothing to it” in terms of cost for ISPs to block websites. ISPs, unsurprisingly, disagree. #siteblock.— Josh Taylor (@joshgnosis) May 5, 2016
Seems like site blocking is going to cost a lot more than the Govt said (last year) it would pic.twitter.com/6tOTMy708L— Will Ockenden (@will_ock) May 5, 2016
ISPs don't want to contest, and don't want to spend any money blocking sites when they are "innocent parties" #siteblock— Allie Coyne (@alliecoyne) May 5, 2016
ISPs and rights holders have been discussing costs, but can't come to agreement and have had to bring it to the court #siteblock— Allie Coyne (@alliecoyne) May 5, 2016
TPG puts compliance costs for piracy site blocking at $50 per domain name. #siteblock— Josh Taylor (@joshgnosis) May 5, 2016
M2 says its costs to block sites would be between $400 and $800 plus overhead costs. #siteblock— Josh Taylor (@joshgnosis) May 6, 2016
#siteblock hearing on June 23rd and 24th, potentially into the 27th— Allie Coyne (@alliecoyne) May 6, 2016
So there's another date for the diary.
Incidentally, there was a discussion about the technical measures of site blocking.
TPG lawyer brings up an extra substance problem: What is the definition of DNS blocking? #siteblock— Ariel Bogle (@arielbogle) May 5, 2016
With DNS blocking appearing to be the preferred method, it's worth revisiting what the ISP's lobby group the Communications Alliance said about it last year in their submission to the senate enquiry into the legislation.
Blocking a web site at the level of the Domain Name System (DNS) is typically the simplest and least costly method to achieve the objectives of the Bill.
But it also pointed out there are problems with this approach:
In most instances it will also be impossible for wholesale providers to 'flow-down' to their wholesale customers the blocked access to a specific web-site, as those downstream providers will be using a different domain name. To further complicate matters, large corporate customers and Government customers also often use their own DNS.
And of course, the techniques to get around DNS blocks can be rather easy. A commenter on the Crikey story said:
A mate of mine from there is forever asking me to get him magnet links to torrents. I paste the magnet link into an IM to him and ta-da, he’s pirating off a pirate bay torrent like the filter ain’t even there!