It’s Over: Australia’s Site Blocking Anti-Piracy Bill Just Passed The Senate

Well that’s it then. Say goodbye to The Pirate Bay at the very least, Australia: our Senate just voted to enact legislation to block websites in a bid to crack down on rampant piracy.

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The Senate has been debating amendments to the Bill all day, with Independent and Greens Senators attempting to water the legislation down.

The final vote was just held, with the Bill passing with 37 yay votes to just 13 against.

The Bill is now set to be signed into law by the Governor-General, and it’s only a matter of time before the first sites start to get blocked.

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam, who proposed significant amendments to the Bill today, tweeted a photo as the vote was taking place:

The Bill had bipartisan support from the Coalition and Labor, while the Greens opposed the Bill’s passage without key amendments. The proposed amendments, which were voted down throughout the day, sought to delay the Bill until the IT Pricing Inquiry report could be tabled, and also called for the Bill to be watered down so as not to be used as a de facto internet filter against “objectionable” material.

Specifically, Senator Ludlam proposed the following:

– Amendment delaying Senate debate on the bill until the Government tables its response to Australian Law Reform Commission’s 2013 report on copyright reform and the 2013 House of Reps IT price hike inquiry

– Clear up the definition of sites targeted by the bill so that it cannot include Virtual Private Networks which have legitimate purposes

– Remove the ability of the bill to target sites “facilitating” copyright infringement, as this could target legitimate sites

– Change the definition of sites targeted by the bill to specify that the sites must be “flagrantly” infringing copyright. This is referred to elsewhere in the bill but currently not required to be considered

– Allowing third parties (for example, consumer/public interest groups) to join the injunction applications as parties to help oppose websites being blocked

– Amend the Copyright Act to explicitly state that evading geo-blocking does not constitute copyright infringement – the bill is currently unclear

– Give any third-party the ability to seek a review of a website block

The Bill passed through the Upper House without a single successful amendment.

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