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Downloading Your Favourite Shows Just Got Harder

First they cancel Hannibal, now this.

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Do you like television? Do you sometimes like to watch television shows that air in the US but don't air in Australia? Well have we got bad news for you.

Elisabeth Caren / NBC

Overnight the government, with support from Labor, passed site blocking legislation through the Senate. The legislation will make it harder to download TV shows, movies and music from overseas sites.

The copyright amendment (online infringement) bill 2015 allows music companies and movie studios to apply to the Federal Court to compel internet service providers to prevent access to popular downloading and streaming sites.

It would mean ISPs such as Telstra and Optus could be forced to block sites like KickassTorrents, Project Free TV, and PirateBay in Australia.

The thing is though, it may not work very well.


People who want to keep downloading can simply use a virtual private network (VPN).

VPNs are cheap and pretty easy to access, and will allow users to get around the government's firewall by making it appear that they are located in a different country.

Even communications minister Malcolm Turnbull has acknowledged that the legislation won't affect VPNs, which he says is deliberate.

"VPNs have a wide range of legitimate purposes, not least of which is the preservation of privacy—something which every citizen is entitled to secure for themselves—and they have no oversight, control or influence over their customers' activities," he said last week.

Other governments have also tried to block sites, and it doesn't really work there.

The UK has had site blocking legislation in place since 2011, but many users are able to get around the block.

When a site like PirateBay or Project Free TV is blocked, mirror sites pop up almost instantly, allowing users to access the overseas content. These sites are then blocked, so a new one pops up, etc etc. It may be a little harder for users in Australia to find the content, but it won't be impossible.

The Greens opposed the bill, and say they're the only real opposition left now.

Greens communication spokesman Scott Ludlam.
Richard Wainwright / AAPIMAGE

Greens communication spokesman Scott Ludlam.

"This is a lazy and dangerous piece of legislation, and it wouldn't be happening if the Opposition hadn't gone completely missing," Greens communication spokesperson Scott Ludlam said.

"The Greens will move a series of amendments to try and blunt the worst impacts of this bill, but passing them would require the Labor Party to reappear. If anyone has seen them, please let us know," said Senator Ludlam.

The bill was also opposed by crossbench senators David Leyonhjelm, Glenn Lazarus, Jacqui Lambie and Ricky Muir.

Consumer group Choice say the bill puts too much power in the hands of copyright holders.

"The federal government's industry-run internet filter law lets rights holders decide what sites you can and can't visit. It will cost money, and it won't stop piracy, because you'll still be paying more for digital TV, movies and books. And consumers may fork out for this clumsy policy, making your internet bill even more expensive."

Mr Turnbull says the bill protects content creators, who deserve to be rewarded for their work.

Str / Getty Images

"These things that we value do not exist without creators. These creators need incentives and rewards for their endeavours, and a robust copyright framework is needed to provide these incentives and rewards," Turnbull said.

"It is vital that copyright owners have an efficient mechanism to disrupt the steady supply of infringing content to Australian internet users from overseas based websites."