Music industry's piracy site blocking battle delayed

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Music industry's piracy site blocking battle delayed

Waiting for outcome of film studios' case.

A federal court judge has delayed an application by the music industry asking Australian internet service providers to block access to torrent directory Kickass Torrents to await the outcome of another case involving film studios. 

Mid last month a group of the world's largest record companies filed a motion demanding that Australia's internet service providers block access to Kickass Torrents and related proxy sites, claiming they exploited the creativity of musicians.

Universal Music, Sony Music and Warner Music are pushing for eight Kickass Torrents domains to be blocked in Australia. They have not requested a rolling injunction - which can be modified if a site resurfaces under a different domain name - unlike film studios in a separate case.

In February film studios submitted their application to use new copyright infringement laws to restrict access to The Pirate Bay, SolarMovie, Torrentz, Torrentound and IsoHunt file sharing websites.

In their first court appearance in the matter today, a federal court judge decided to delay a hearing until after the court battle between the film studios and ISPs has been heard.

Both APRA AMCOS and members of music body ARIA, and ISPs, agreed that several of the matters under dispute in their case would likely be resolved by the other application.

ISPs alongside Foxtel and Village Roadshow will attend court in the last week of June to argue their case on two issues that have already emerged as problematic: how a site block should be implemented, and who should be liable for costs.

The ISPs in both cases have taken the stance that it is not their role to defend against the application for a site to be blocked. Their concerns involve financial compensation for the costs of complying with a site block order.

Today, Telstra, Optus, TPG and Foxtel - which is a respondent in the music industry case due to its broadband business, and an applicant in the film studios case given its content business - indicated the same issues around cost were replicated in their application.

Both sides agreed that many of the points of contention and uncertainty in this case could be addressed by the June hearings of the film studios' application.

"Given that the form of relief is a major component of the dispute between Roadshow and Foxtel and the ISPs, and there's been a considerable amount of time spent between the applicants and respondents negotiating forms of orders and final relief in an attempt to standardise the forms of order sought by the applications ... we propose deferral of consideration of the relief elements for this proceeding until after determination of the Foxtel and Roadshow applications," counsel for Foxtel said.

"We think out of the other proceeding there will be a streamlined process and orders and it is likely that ISPs will be able to formulate a unified set of orders."

Both parties said it would be a waste of time and money to submit any evidence prior to Justice Nicholas' ruling in the film industry's case.

"We want to minimise the costs that are expended," Optus counsel said.

"In that light it's certainly prudent to come back after that other hearing ... [which] will affect the arguments that are made in this case."

"We very much endorse the utility of having the other proceedings crystalise the issue first before we put in evidence about the cost of the proceedings," Telstra counsel said.

The judge hearing the music industry case, Justice Katzmann, agreed and ordered both parties to return to court for a further case management hearing on July 11 after the film studios' hearing in late June.

Katzmann also ordered the music studios file their evidence for blocking Kickass Torrents by June 24.

A hearing in the case has been listed for 25-26 October, following the release of the judgment in the film studios' application.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly attributed a Foxtel quote to counsel for the music industry. The error has been rectified.

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