New Australian online copyright laws target search engines

The Australian government recently amended its 2015 website blocking legislation that allows rightsholders to obtain Federal Court orders obliging ISPs to take reasonable steps to block access to foreign pirate websites. 

To be eligible for such a judicial order sites must be a) based outside Australia b) have the primary purpose of infringing, or facilitating the infringing, of copyrighted content. 

According to a government statement, The Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2018 "strengthens the existing, successful website-blocking scheme introduced by the government in 2015 by allowing more pirate websites to be targeted and making it harder for pirates to circumvent blocking measures”.

In addition, the amendments will allow rightsholders to apply for injunctions that will not only target infringing ‘online locations’ but also their appearance in search results.

Search engines like Google will therefore be required to “take such steps as the Court considers reasonable so as not to provide a search result that refers users to the online location”, while mirror and proxy sites should not appear in search results either.