Radical expansion of Australia's national firewall will censor search results and websites

SOPA has come to Australia: under Communications minister Senator Mitch Fifield's Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2018, rightsholders will be able to tell search engines which results they are allowed to show users, and will expand the country's censorship system ("copyright blocking orders") by allowing rightsholders to have any website censored by claiming it is a "mirror" of an already-blocked site, without having to show evidence for their claims.

Two major media companies — Foxtel and Village Roadshow — are behind the measure. They are already the major users of Australia's copyright censorship system.

Currently, if a copyright owner wants to block a new mirror or proxy site, under the current rules it is subject to judicial oversight. One of the early points of conflict between rights holders and telcos was over the issue of a "rolling injunction" to deal with new avenues of access to sites. The court rejected a push to allow rights holders to have ISPs block additional domains, URLs or IP addresses simply by issuing a notice to a telco already subject to an injunction.

Fifield's statement hints that the government will allow copyright owners to avoid returning to court if they want to block new proxies and mirrors. Entertainment companies have indicated they are keen to find ways to minimise the court costs associated with anti-piracy injunctions.

New anti-piracy laws to target search engines [Rohan Pearce/Computerworld]