Village Roadshow's Graham Burke threatens to sue individuals for piracy (except single pregnant women)

August 26, 2015 9:21 am


Village Roadshow's Graham Burke has again come out swinging against online piracy, threatening to sue individuals who download TV and movie content without authorisation.

Talking to SBS2's Marc Fennell, Mr Burke said he's had enough.

"Yes we will sue people," he said. "[They have] been warned, notices issued, that they have been doing the wrong thing."

Suing individuals is a tactic long used in the United States, but often results in bad PR for the company involved. It turns out suing viewers of your content isn't always a great look.

Mr Burke is aware of such optics, so he appears to have given a get-out-of-jail-free-card to partnerless women about to give birth.

"We’re certainly not going to be seeking out single pregnant mothers," he said.

Mr Burke's comments come as Pay TV company Foxtel continues to prepare its legal case to have sites blocked in Australia.

Village Roadshow is the second company to announce its intentions to use Australia's new (but so far unused) site blocking laws.

"We are absolutely in the process of implementing ­action to block illegal sites," Village Roadshow co-chief executive Graham Burke said. "We are going through the legal preparation at this stage and will be ready in October to go to the courts and ask them to block sites." via The Australian

Despite Mr Burke's threats to sue, a recent legal case (known as iiDallas) between ISPs and movie production company Dallas Buyer Club would likely limit the cash payout any unauthorised downloader would have to pay to settle any Village Roadshow case.

Dallas Buyers Club was after the personal details of 4,726 alleged downloaders of the movie, so it could send them a letter demanding damages. However, the Federal Court eventually refused to grant the application because of concerns about speculative invoicing.

While the Court had no problem with downloaders being asked to pay for a single copy of the film, plus any costs to track them down - asking for more than that went too far.

Dallas Buyers Club was also after a "licencing fee" for any uploads/distributions via BitTorrent and additional unspecified amounts for other unauthorised downloads.

It's possible the Federal Court would take the same view to any similar applications made by Village Roadshow.

Who'll be sued/targeted?

According to the SBS2 interview, Mr Burke said - quite simply - that anyone pirating movies will be targeted.

"We won’t necessarily know who they are, but if they’re pirating movies on a fairly large scale they’re clearly doing the wrong thing."

The best of Burke

Graham Burke is well known for a certain rhetorical flourish when discussing matters of copyright infringement. In Village Roadshow's submission to the Senate inquiry into site blocking, Mr Burke wrote:

"Pirate sites are a sleazy neighbourhood which our children go to and they are selling hard-core pornography and scams such as party pills and steroids."

This time round, he's metaphorically compared piracy to drink driving.

"It's no different to the highways of Australia where we are pretty damn safe because drunken driving and high speed driving is kept somewhat under control. If there were no laws, if there were no regulations, we wouldn’t be safe out there," he told SBS2.

Oh, we also know that Mr Burke likes neither popcorn or choc tops to enhance his movie experience. Instead he said he's a "water person". Let's hope he buys his drinks when he visits. Wouldn't want to breach those conditions of entry.

"Only food and beverages purchased from Village Cinemas can be taken into the cinemas."

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