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Australian copyright owners say Google should help enforce the web-blocks

By | Published on Tuesday 25 February 2020


Australian anti-piracy organisation Creative Content Australia has called on the country’s government to do more to force search engines and social media to stop pesky pirates from accessing proxy servers that allow them to reach piracy sites that have been blocked.

The anti-piracy tactic of web-blocking has been available to copyright owners in Australia since a change in the law in 2015. It means that music and movie companies can get court orders forcing internet service providers to block access to specific piracy sites. Since then a number of such sites have been subject to web-blocking in Australia.

But web-blocks are not perfect, of course, because anyone with just a little bit of web-savviness can usually circumvent the blockades. And by web-savviness, we mainly mean being savvy enough to type “how can I reach The Pirate Bay?” into Google.

That is why Graham Burke – the former boss of Australian movie company Village Roadshow and still Chair of Creative Content Australia – thinks Google et al should be forced to do more to stop people circumventing court-ordered web-blocks.

Speaking to the newspaper The Australian, Burke said: “What is happening is that the government, with legislation, shut the front door by blocking websites by ISP, but the search engines, namely Google, are taking people to pirate process proxy sites. If you Google ‘PIR’ you get taken to Pirate Bay proxies, where they say unashamedly, if the government blocked your Pirate Bay access through your ISP we can re-engage you right here”.

Although Google does provide a system via which copyright owners can remove links to infringing content from its search database, the music and movie industries have long argued that the web giant should be much more proactive in the battle against piracy. In particular ensuring that it’s not helping users to circumvent official web blocks.

For its part, Creative Content Australia is now asking the Australian government to intervene, to make sure that blocked sites are not easily accessible via things like Google.

Doing so would also protect consumers, reckons the anti-piracy group. That particular argument is based on Creative Content Australia’s latest public-facing campaign, which claims that using piracy services opens up users to data-theft and fraud.

Building on that theme, Burke also told The Australian: “When piracy first started they had advertising and they’re still doing some of that, but the big profit, huge profit, comes from getting someone’s credit card details and emptying their bank account. Even just by clicking on to a pirate website, they’re so sophisticated they can suck up all your information, your passwords and everything”.