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Inaction on internet piracy threatened film funding, says Village Roadshow chief Graham Burke

Graham Burke of Village Roadshow. Photo: Paul Jones
Nanjing Night Net

Graham Burke of Village Roadshow. Photo: Paul Jones

Graham Burke of Village Roadshow. Photo: Paul Jones

Graham Burke of Village Roadshow. Photo: Paul Jones

Village Roadshow boss Graham Burke has revealed his company risked losing finance to produce feature films if the government failed to combat internet piracy.

Mr Burke welcomed the Abbott government’s 120-day deadline for internet service providers (ISPs) and entertainment companies, including Village, to negotiate a industry code to curb illegal downloading.

“I think it will work,” said Mr Burke when asked if ISPs, such as iiNet, and Village could negotiate a strategy.

“Because if not, the government will impose a solution, so it will work.”

Federal Attorney George Brandis and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull said if ISPs and rights holders fail to draft a strategy, the government would create a binding code for them.

Village and iiNet have tried to work out a solution in the past but were unable to reach agreement.

Village wanted the government to order an ISP to slow the speed of an illegal downloader’s internet service for up to six months after three warnings. iiNet meanwhile maintained its job wasn’t to enforce the law and people downloaded movies illegally because viewing films legitimately had become too expensive.

But the problem has now become more pressing.

Mr Burke, who is in the US negotiating for films to produced in Australia, said Village’s financers, which are mainly international banks, had warned the company that they would be unable to fund movies if the government maintained the status quo.

“We had a problem because banks are the key to any form of production,” he said.

“Our banks were saying to us … If your government doesn’t do something to address the alarming levels that piracy is reaching, where your business is already being affected, and it becomes endemic, we’re not going to lend you money because you can’t demonstrate to us that you will get that money back’.

The two government ministers said they expected the industry code to include a warning notice system in which repeat illicit downloaders are sent notices informing them they are infringing copyright.

It will be educational in nature and not include penalties such as slowing internet speeds for repeat offenders. However, Mr Burke praised the government despite it not delivering exactly what he asked for.

The government will also amend the Copyright Act to enable rights holders to apply for a court order requiring ISPs to block access to overseas websites providing access to pirated content.

“The government is acting appropriately to protect creativity in Australia to make sure that there is another Red Dog and another Muriel’s Wedding and another Gallipoli, Mr Burke said, referring to three popular Australian films. He added the moves were needed ” to protect theatres as far reaching as Townsville and Hobart, Geelong and Parramatta … and to support tax-paying businesses.”

He said he was ready to negotiate with ISPs immediately: “Bring it on quick”.

“We will be looking for full co-operation to stamp out theft and people that are breaches, people that are destroying, like any breach or cancer, the Australian film production, exhibition and distribution industry, destroying jobs, destroying taxpayer revenue.

“So I’m ready. Whenever the government says time to me, I’m there.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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