Roadshow Films Pty Limited v Telstra Corporation Limited [2019] FCA 1328 

Roadshow Films, applying with other companies with copyright interests in cinematograph films, sought an injunction under section 115A of the 
Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) against websites located outside Australia accused of infringing, or facilitating the infringement of, copyright. The application was substantially similar to a number of previous applications made by Roadshow Films under section 115A.

The application

The application was heard in the Federal Court of Australia by Justice Thawley in August 2019. Orders were sought against 52 respondents belonging to five corporate groups: Telstra, Optus, Vocus, TPG and Vodafone. None of the operators of the relevant websites or online locations applied to be joined as a party to the proceedings, although the applicants made reasonable efforts to determine the identity of, and contact, the website operators.

The online locations were involved in linking, streaming or torrenting. For the purpose of proceedings under section 115A, an online location is presumed to be outside Australia, unless the contrary is established. In this application the contrary was not established and the presumption applied.

In order to obtain an injunction under section 115A, the online location must have the primary purpose or the primary effect of infringing, or facilitating an infringement of, copyright. The Court found that each online location had the primary purpose or the primary effect of infringing or facilitating an infringement of copyright in commercially released cinematograph films.

In determining whether to grant the injunction, the Court can take a number of matters into account as specified in section 115A(5). The websites were found to infringe copyright flagrantly, they had directories of motion pictures and television programs and they displayed a disregard for copyright generally. 

The decision

The Court was satisfied that disabling access to the online locations was a proportionate response in the public interest. It granted the injunction for an initial period of three years. 

The respondents were required to take reasonable steps to disable access to the websites. The respondents were also required to ensure that the websites were redirected to a webpage that informs users that access to the website was disabled because it was determined to have infringed, or facilitated the infringement of, copyright.

Notice of extension timeframe

The applicants sought a shorter timeframe in which to approach the Court to have the orders extended at the end of the initial period than had been ordered in previous similar cases. Blocked online locations or websites may change, including in response to the making of orders under section 115A, and a shorter period would enable more up-to-date evidence to be provided when the Court is considering an extension application. Justice Thawley found that such a reduction provided sufficient time for the owners and operators of websites to respond while also reducing the costs that might otherwise be incurred. The notice period was reduced from six months to two months.