During their b-annual investor call yesterday, Australian film distributor Village Roadshow unveiled a new five-point plan for taking on Australian film piracy, including the pursuit of legal action against individual offenders — something they’ve been threatening for years but never actually followed through on.
Village Roadshow’s program also wants to keep the train rolling on the blocking of piracy websites, with the company crowing about the success of the 2016 Australian Federal Court ruling that saw major internet service providers forced to block a number of popular bit torrent websites. The numbers are good, piracy is down but, of course, it makes no mention how laughably easy it is to circumvent the government filter. Village are looking to extend the list of filtered websites, so the remaining days of unfettered access may be numbered.
In addition to the site blocking, Village are also looking to partner with Google to make sure the page rankings for piracy sites are pushed way down, to produce a “major PR campaign” and a push for greater availability of legal product.
If you’ve been downloading movies on the sly, don’t start wringing your hands about being sued just yet. The last time Village Roadshow attempted to go after individual pirates in Australia was when the makers of the film Dallas Buyers Club were pushing for huge and far reaching penalties against some 5000 individual infringers. They dropped their case when Australian Federal Court judge Nye Perram called the proceedings “wholly unrealistic,” instead favouring an outcome that would have offenders pay the film makers an amount equivalent to that of purchasing the film legally. While it’s unlikely that Village Roadshow would be seeking similarly outlandish remuneration, the probability of being taken to court for failure to purchase a $25 bluray is very real.
We will end this piece with a friendly reminder that The Lego Batman Movie and John Wick 2 are still scheduled for theatrical release in Australia on March 30 and April 20 respectively. Both films will arrive in theatres here several months after their release overseas. If Village Roadshow are serious about tackling piracy in this country, we would, as a friend might, gently suggest they look inward for just a moment before laying the blame elsewhere.