Kickass Torrents Could Soon Be Blocked In Australia

Kickass Torrents Could Soon Be Blocked In Australia

Several major music labels are seeking to block Australians from accessing piracy website Kickass Torrents in the latest use of website-blocking legislation introduced last year. If the music bigwigs get their way, Telstra, Optus, TPG and other providers would be forced to block access to the piracy facilitating website. Here’s what you need to know.

A consortium of Australian Recording Industry Association members including the Australian arms of major labels Universal, Warner and Sony, as well as local label J. Albert & Son, filed for an injunction in the Federal Court to have Kickass and “related proxy sites” blocked in Australia under the Copyright Act.

“Online infringement continues to be a major threat to the sustainability of the Australian music industry,” said Jenny Morris OAM, chair of the Australasian Performing Right Association.

“Illegal offshore sites like Kickass Torrents show a complete disrespect for music creators and the value of music.”

Under the legislation, passed in June, rights holders can apply to the Federal Court to force internet service providers to block access to certain websites if their “primary purpose” is deemed “to infringe, or to facilitate the infringement of, copyright”.

The ARIA members have named Australia’s biggest telcos Telstra, Optus and TPG and subsidiaries, which include iiNet and Virgin Mobile, in the application.

Like The Pirate Bay, Kickass Torrents is what’s known as a “torrent tracker”. It works like a search engine, where users can search and find files such as movies or music hosted on other people’s computers, and then share them directly using a peer-to-peer protocol known as torrenting.

In February, a consortium of major film studios led by Village Roadshow Australia was the first to file for an injunction under the Copyright Act amendments. Foxtel has instigated a separate action. Together they are seeking to block various other sites deemed to flagrantly facilitate copyright infringement, including The Pirate Bay and SolarMovie.

ISPs have yet to confirm how they would go about blocking the sites. Previous attempts by government departments to block sites have backfired massively. In 2013, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission inadvertently blocked access to a quarter of a million websites when it instructed ISPs to block a particular IP address.

See also: Here Are All The Websites Foxtel Wants To Block In Australia

Although we haven’t seen an example yet, it’s likely users will be shown a page informing them of the court ruling when they try to access a blacklisted site.

Critics of the legislation have argued that Australians will still be able to access targeted sites if they use a virtual private network, which hides a user’s destination from their ISP. Sites like The Pirate Bay have also evaded website blocking by constantly changing their IP addresses, and keeping their users in the loop on social media.

And, of course, customers of smaller, independent ISPs not specifically mentioned in an injunction would still be able to access a targeted website.

“We know from international experience that site blocking does not work,” said Laurie Patton, chief executive of Internet Australia, which represents internet users.

“It’s called whack-a-mole: you close down one site and it reopens somewhere else, either at a different IP address or with a different name.”

However rights holders argue that blocking easy access for the general public to copyright infringing sites is enough of a deterrent to reduce piracy.

Mr Patton warned site-blocking methods could slow down internet speeds and result in higher access costs for consumers due to administration costs.

Hearings for the Foxtel and Village Roadshow applications are scheduled in May, while the music labels’ application is due to be heard in June.

This article originally appeared in Digital Life, The Sydney Morning Herald’s home for everything technology. Follow Digital Life on Facebook and Twitter.


  • How long will it take for people to realize that Kickass shifted to another IP Address in less than an hour?

    • It’s up to the ISP.
      ISPs have yet to confirm how they would go about blocking the sites.

      The legislation states that “The injunction is to require the carriage service provider to take reasonable steps to disable access to the online location.”

      So, a big ISP like Telstra which is pro-rights-holders and already has beefy Content filtering engines at the edge of its network might do proper Layer 7 filtering to block access (requiring an encrypted VPN subscription to avoid).
      An ISP that wants to implement the block as cheaply and easily as possible (eg. TPG) would probably just poison their DNS, only requiring subscribers set their DNS to to avoid.

      It’s going to take time for the industry to try the minimum they can get away with, and rights-holders take them to court to establish what “reasonable steps” are.

  • Oh no, I will have to click one more button to turn on my VPN before visiting these website now… How horrific.

    On a related note, does anyone else find Windows 10’s VPN connection menu to be a step backward from Windows 8/8.1? In Windows 8 you could connect to the VPN from the icon on your status bar/action pane/right list, whatever the fuck they called it, but in Windows 10, you click on your VPN, instead of connecting, it opens up your control panel application showing a list of your network connections, you then click again, to show the “connect” button, then AGAIN to finally connect….

    • You should be using OpenVPN anyway. these Layer 2 tunnels just aren’t as secure as IPsec. Many VPN providers provide their own software anyway (which uses OpenVPN). FYI for maximum security you want a UDP tunnel with AES-256 with a handshake of at least RSA-4096, data auth should be SHA256+ it will be a bit slower but is probably as secure as you can currently get

      • What do you think I’m using a VPN for? I’m not some terrorist or kiddie porn peddler, I’m just getting around geo-blocks (and soon the great firewall of Australia).

        • Well considering this is an article about kickass torrents, I assumed you were pirating things. Fair assumption or?

  • However rights holders argue that blocking easy access for the general public to copyright infringing sites is enough of a deterrent to reduce piracy.


    • You’re laughing, but they are correct. Make something harder to do – some people will stop doing it.

      • What’s the number? You’d want a pretty significant drop in piracy to justify this. Considering getting around this block would be as easy as Googling “how to get around the kat block” it’s not much of an obstacle. Unless they also want Google to block search results.

        Despite the years of anti-piracy measures one is still capable of downloading whatever they want. The only time we started to see piracy rates dropping was when reliable streaming services and platforms popped up. Imagine that: providing cheap, reliable services converts pirates into purchasers, a notion industries turned a deaf ear to because it challenged their dinosaur business models.

        I can personally say that I have not downloaded one video game since I started using Steam. I use Spotify for my music and I have a Netflix account.

  • You can block the Internet? Considering Malcolm practically invented the Internet I’d have thought he knew the answer to this question already 😛

  • Lol what a futile pursuit. People can bypass by using 3rd party DNS registries if the URL is blocked or using a proxy if the IP is blocked. These companies are chasing their tail & are showing how much they don’t understand the way things work instead of attempting to provide a more meaningful solution to give pirates a reason to stop their activities.

  • Use the good old Google Translate as a proxy. Everyone just spends lots more time at

  • It’s called a Mirror. You would hope the Government would ask someone that knows anything about IT if this would make any difference at all?

    • The Government doesn’t care. It just needs to look like it’s doing something so corporate donations can keep rolling in.

  • Oh dear…surely they’ve learnt their lesson by now! Piss more money away on useless “solutions”

  • Oh no where am I going to pirate game of thrones season 6 till it comes out on Blu-ray? Sarcasm btw

  • Online infringement continues to be a major threat to the sustainability of the Australian music industry

    ^no it isn’t, the major threat is the shit that gets pushed out, no descent artists here anymore.
    how about artists start making good songs again, then i’ll start buying CD’s again…

  • Crime drops 100% after Obama makes breaking the law illegal. “Why didn’t we think of this before?” the President was heard saying.

      • If you prefer to download rather than stream maybe it makes sense.

        I’m guessing music downloads make up less than 1% of KAT’s traffic though so it seems weird the music industry is the one taking this action not the film or TV industry…

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