Village Roadshow CEO: iiNet Is Lying About Piracy

The fight to stamp out piracy is getting bitter in Australia. The battle is divided between content creators and the Government they seemingly have in their pocket, and web giants like Google and Australian internet service providers. One of the Generals in the conflict is Graham Burke, co-CEO of Village Roadshow Australia.
He's already fighting a battle against Google Australia, and now he has it in for iiNet on the new Western front.

AU Editor's Note: With site-blocking legislation currently experiencing its first test in Australia's courts today, this story from June 2014 gives context to plaintiff Village Roadshow's attitudes to fighting piracy within Australia.

Burke, who has shared an audience with anti-piracy crusader, Attorney-General George Brandis, agrees with the widely-held belief in the content industry that Australia is the global hub for internet piracy.

"Sadly, Australia is statistically one of the worst countries in the world [for piracy]. For example, there are more people downloading Breaking Bad in a country of 23 million people than in America with 300 million people. That's a pretty serious position to be in," Burke told me in an exclusive interview.

Burke is part of the industry that is closely tied to Attorney General Brandis as he develops an anti-piracy policy that's rumoured to include site-blocking and a graduated response plan, or three-strikes system.

iiNet has arguably been at the centre of the local copyright storm for longer than either of the pair have, following the so-called iiTrial last year, which would have seen the internet service provider held ultimately responsible for the piracy habits of its users.

The Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft, an industry lobby witb which Village Roadshow and Graham Burke are affiliated, brought the marathon case to the High Court against iiNet and ultimately lost. iiNet set a new anti-piracy precedent in Australia, and now it's working again to try and defeat the government's new anti-piracy measures before they become cast in stone.

Last week, the ISP called on its vast user base to make their feelings against the policy plans known by writing to the relevant Ministers and Shadow Ministers to voice their concerns. iiNet is well within its rights to try and pull a John Oliver by having citizens flood the government with more scorn and derision over internet censorship than it can handle, but it's a plan that has drawn the ire of Burke, as he tells me in no uncertain terms.

"iiNet have been very vocal in the media about piracy and I find that quite sad. They resort to lies to forward their case whereas I believe we [Village Roadshow and the content industry] deal with a straight bat. We represent and what is in the best interest of 906,000 Aussies whose lives depend on copyright.

"What iiNet are saying to government is 'oh, let's just have everything available at the same time, cinema and everything and the [piracy] problem will go away. They know that's a lie because of the music industry. In June alone there was 1.2 million illegal downloads of music, and that's released at exactly the same time everywhere," Burke said.

Piracy produces less of a financial burden for the music industry, according to Burke. Producing an album only costs around $300,000 at the top end, whereas the cost of making a film in the studio model starts at $5 million, and ranges right up to $200 million for epics like Skyfall, Man of Steel and Avatar. Studios are happy to invest such insane numbers on projects like Pirates Of The Carribean: At World's End, for example, when they make profits of $963.4 million for the studio. It's a river of gold that they understandably want to protect, so they turn to lobbying and legislation like graduated response or "three-strikes" models as a balm to ease the pain of online content theft.

"It's sad that to forward their case, [iiNet] use what they must know is a fabric of lies."

Three-strike models are favoured by studios like Village Roadshow, and Generals like Graham Burke. He says that the reason more countries don't have them is because the road to legislation is constantly blocked by factions like Google and iiNet marshalling their forces with what he calls "lies".

"It's sad that to forward their case, [iiNet] use what they must know is a fabric of lies. They're saying that there's no proof that graduated response works. They're instancing a number of countries where graduated response was frustrated by lobbying and the power of Google, which pays little to no tax in Australia and creates nothing," he said.

Following the iiTrial victory, Burke says that the ISP is happy to let its users carry on pirating as long as it's profitable to them.

"They [iiNet] are also demonstrating the fact that their business model is predicated on selling time, and of course they want the present regime to continue. [Pirates] have a smorgasbord of content online that they are accessing, and paying iiNet for the systems to do so. This is a company that has produced nothing in Australia. Meanwhile, Village and its partners have produced $2.6 billion of feature film production. We have just hired 2600 people on the gold coast working on a film. We've got people in Warnambool, and pre-production in Perth on the prequel to Red Dog. This is very real employment. Aussie film production is important to who we are."

In a recent call-to-arms blog post, iiNet's Steve Dalby said that the content industry is working hand-in-glove with the government to develop an anti-piracy plan that would negatively affect the nation's digital economy. Burke, naturally, rejects that assertion outright.

"Some of the stuff Steve Dalby has said is just outrageous, and he's got to know it's outrageous too."

So in Graham Burke's perfect world, how would we solve piracy? According to the man himself, it can be done with education.

[Pirates] have a smorgasbord of content online that they are accessing, and paying iiNet for the systems to do so

Burke says that content creators already have new business models in place for the modern consumer, adding that the 'enemy' would have you believe differently.

"Google and iiNet are saying that copyright owners like us are not interested in new business models, but there are now 10 new business models and there are more coming."

"That's part of their fabric of lies."

Burke says that the industry also needs to run an education campaign that wins hearts and minds.

"If people are given elegant explanations of why [downloading content] is theft, the bulk of people will be reasonable. My nephew doesn't understand but if it's explained, he gets it," Burke explains. The operative word in that sentence ought to be "elegant": the last time the content industry aimed at winning hearts and minds, we got the "You Wouldn't Steal A..." ad campaign which was laughed out of cinemas.

But if winning hearts and minds doesn't work, the industry needs a legislative stick in a modified three-strikes plan. Rather than boot a user off an ISP at the end of a three-strikes warning period, Burke would see the speed of the connection slowed down in a big way.

"The ISPs, they're ruthless. If someone doesn't pay their bills, they're gone. If you check the website of iiNet, if you're exceeding your plan and taking more space, they will throttle you until you pay up. They have no problem [throttling users] for selfish narrow and financial gain. The answer is that if you're still pirating we're going to slow your speed down," he explains.

At the end of the day, the source of the fight comes back to money. If companies like Village Roadshow are forced to reduce the their exclusive content window, it also reduces the amount of money they are able to recoup from bums in seats at a cinema, which is how movies that cost up to $300 million to produce are able to make back their money.

The content industry doesn't want to cede too much ground to new business models, save companies like Apple, Microsoft and Google making money in their marketplaces which studios believe belongs in their coffers. It's this gridlock over who gets the money in the 21st century that's delaying a decent fix for people stealing content.

Piracy is a complex problem, and there's no simple cure-all. Web giants, ISPs and users will all say that availability and cheaper prices will see a changing of the tide, but content industry heavyweights who are all used to being paid in rivers of gold for the work of artists see it as an incoming drought, with funds being diverted to those marketplaces rather than back into production and profit.

Piracy will never be eliminated entirely. There will always be a sliver of the market that pirates, steals and copies content, but the rights-holders would have you believe it's a mountain of a problem rather than the mole hill it really is. The amount of people stealing Game Of Thrones via BitTorrent is negligible when compared to the $1.86 billion dollars that walks out the door under the shirts of shoplifters in Australia every year. You never hear people like Graham Burke stand up and denounce people wearing baggy hoodies walking into big box retailers. Piracy is the sexy problem, and it's better to use a policy sledgehammer to crack a nut than it is to make a move that might compromise quarterly earnings for a content creator.

"My nephew doesn't understand [why downloading is wrong] but if it's explained, he gets it..."

Legislation is coming, but the government needs to tread lightly when it comes to potentially hamstringing one of the most connected digital economies (per capita) in the world with ineffectual laws. Graham Burke is commanding the forces of regulation for the content creators, and a coalition of web giants are attempting to marshal a defence. At the end of the day, the final decision on regulation needs to be influenced by voters: people like you and me who can respond to a public consultation on the matter.

Whose side are you on?

More: iiNet's Steve Dalby To Village Roadshow: 'It's Not Our Job To Stop Online Infringers'



    iiNet lied to the court about not being able to monitor piracy. They had programmes in their N.O.C that could see what people downloaded.

      For a claim like that, you'll need to provide at least some evidence I'm afraid.

        I agree, but if they didn't have the ability to do so then they wouldn't be a very good ISP (Source: 10+ years in the IT Industry)

          It's irrelevant because iinet is not a lacky for government or other industry, it is a service provider. As a service provider, it should not be forced by groups that lobby government to comprimise privacy details of their customers (which i believe was their original, far-back argument years ago) so that the companies can secure a platform for legal action against individuals.

            but.. but... when a Toyota Corolla is used in a bank robbery, it's clearly Toyota's fault and they should be held accountable.

              In PNG once, a bus driver ran over a pedestrian. The family sued the bus driver of course, but also sued the bus company, because if the company hadn't had any buses, the accident wouldn't have happened, and they also sued the shop. The shop? Well, if the shop hadn't been there, there wouldn't have been a bus stop outside it, so the bus wouldn't have gone there and the accident wouldn't have happened. Fault is a transitive property...

                As you said in PNG that's not Australia our laws are different.

                Ahh.. the old "but for..." test for causation.

                They should have sued Mercedes-Benz because, but for Karl Benz' internal combustion engine designs and subsequent popularization of automobiles the accident might never have happened.

                  They should have sued the pedestrian's parents, because if the pedestrian had never been born they would never have been run over.

                So why didn't they also sue the PNG Government for allowing the busses to operate, for allowing roads for the buses to run on, and while we are at it why didn't the bus company counter sue for the parents teaching the person how to walk in the first place?

                I also notice you never mentioned if the plaintiffs were allowed standing to actually bring the case to fruition. Or did they just TRY to sue and the court said.. "no vicarious liability does NOT work that way. Why are you wasting the courts time with frivolous and unreasonable motions"next!

                Fault isn't transitive at all it is based on whether there was a duty, if that duty was breached, if a breach then was that breach the cause (using reasonable & factual information), and also if that breach caused actual harm. This is also specifically called negligence and NOT fault! fault is something that petulant children do to blame others for their own mistakes.

            I agree with you in not forcing them. They're no different from Telstra in the sense of they only provide infrastructure as a service. Do they want Telstra to record everyphone call and give them shit quality phone calls because people discuss piracy, or setup drug deals or any other kind of crime! It's just silly. Sure if a particular person is proven to be a serious ongoing pirate, then the ISP can kill their access etc, but it shouldn't really be all on them to find who's doing what and when. I don't think I'd make anywhere near as many phone calls as I do if I knew every conversation was being tracked and recorded, and same goes for the internet. I don't conduct any illegal activities with the services myself, but I still don't think anyone needs to know where I am or who I'm talking to at every moment except for myself and others I'm with.

          ISP level volumes of traffic would be extremely challenging to track and monitor, even in this day and age. Unless there was a specific need for it, you likely wouldn't have it sitting there.

          Really? Well, let's consider that.
          First, let's limit ourselves to two technologies widely used for downloading: HTTP/S and BitTorrent.

          First, downloads over HTTP: certainly iiNet would have the ability to capture the URLs that people are accessing, times, size of the files, and so on. How would they then identify files as being 'pirated'?
          They could look at filenames alone. That's probably useless, because:
          (1) filenames on things like Mediafire will often not correlate with content, and
          (2) filenames may be similar to something which is copyrighted, but not actually be that thing (e.g. where there is name overlap between different things). To block based on filename would be far too imprecise, unless the filenames were part of an explicit list they were given to block.

          They could look at filenames and file size, but that only works if the server accurately reports the file size or the entire file has been transferred already (which is probably a bit late to be acting on it). We still have the issue that filenames don't necessarily represent the content.

          They could look at hash fingerprinting, but this:
          (1) would require computation of hashes on everything passing through the connections, which is fairly computationally intense
          (2) would require someone to provide a list of 'naughty' hashes, which would be defeated by a single bit-flip in the source file
          (3) would only give you data after the fact because to compute a hash you need all the data. At best, you would be able to identify users who downloaded a specific file (assuming no hash collisions).

          In any case, HTTP is not where most of the media piracy happens anyway.
          Note: you could pretty readily read and identify torrent files (i.e. the .torrent) and the content (including hashes). That would be a pretty easy avenue to target. However, this fails as soon as those files are served over HTTPS (see below).

          What about HTTPS? Well, they can't content inspect without running a MITM on the connection. Would you use an ISP that was MITMing your HTTPS connections?

          How about BitTorrent? Well, if it is unencrypted it is pretty easy to read the traffic, and you could potentially detect the content on that basis. However, BitTorrent protocol encryption is pretty widely supported now (and preferred by many clients). You can still pretty readily detect BitTorrent traffic (since it follows very predictable behaviours) but not really the content.
          Because there is shared data (i.e. the hashes for the torrent being downloaded) then the ISP can't really MITM these connections without detection. As a result, BitTorrent traffic is quite resistant to snooping.

          Sure, there is still FTP (who uses that?), IRC (again, does anyone still use that for pirating?), Usenet (which is generally via HTTP/S now so the same limitations apply), and a few other sharing systems.

          However, the claim that "they wouldn't be a very good ISP" if they couldn't identify files being downloaded is simply not true. It is trivial for HTTP, but for HTTPS and BitTorrent the encryption renders attempts to spy on the traffic being transferred largely futile.

          Oh, and since this seems to have developed into a pissing contest:
          Source: 18 years in the IT industry.

          Last edited 18/06/14 3:56 pm

            Could not agree more

            To support your claims I'll cite "Computer Nteworks 5th edition" by Tanenbaum and Wetherall

            To add another layer to it...
            How do they (the ISP) know whether or not a download of a copyrighted piece of media is an authorised download or not?

            I believe you are correct and I have 20 years in the IT industry in January so I must know what I'm talking about, right?... right?!!

              Damn right, because as we all know there is just one things which is the 'IT industry' ;)
              (e.g. 2 years of my work was mostly programming neuroscience brain stimulation and recording gear)

            I totally agree! I probably worded my initial statement a bit incorrectly though.

            "Usenet (which is generally via HTTP/S now so the same limitations apply)"

            Say what now? Sounds like you didn't spend and of those 18 years using usenet. NNTP would be the more likely candidate

              [ Damn, just noticed Gizmodo pointed me at a 2-year-old article. ]

              NNTP between servers, but the end user frequently uses a web frontend.

              Ah, I remember the days when the company I worked for carried a mostly-exhaustive Usenet feed via a 19200bps serial line... until alt.binaries broke it all.

              That feed was via compressed - gzipped - batches by the way; using MHSnet (think next-gen UUCP) rather than NNTP. We switched to NNTP later.

              Last edited 15/03/16 4:20 pm

            That person was probably just a paid shill pretending to know what they were talking about.

      They can see the type of traffic, not what people are downloading. One of the key issues is the iiNet had no way to verify if the claims of users illegally downloading were true. If they terminated with out knowing for sure, they themselves were liable.

      Seriously? Every ISP has the ability to monitor what you do online. They can't see WHAT you download only where you browse and the origin of traffic. That being said Australia has this AMAZING thing called Privacy Laws which prevent ISPs from tracking your data unless provided with a warranty or lawful intercept order by the courts.

      As vj9c9 mentioned, evidence would be key here.

      Why should they? It not their job. Do you really want a private company watching what you download?

      Fleetwood - There is an incredibly huge difference between spying on a single customer with wireshark and "programmers in their N.O.C that could see what people have downloaded". Anybody who works with technology will tell you that this kind of automated operation is incredibly expensive and ineffective.

      What fleetwood says is incorrect and will only serve to derail robust debate.

    I loved this line,
    "This is a company that has produced nothing in Australia. Meanwhile, Village and its partners have produced $2.6 billion of feature film production."

    Burke is so full of S#%$...... I mean truth.

      I love it too because Burke is the CEO of village cinemas which has produced exactly nothing.
      Village roadshow on the others hand has, but Burke doesn't work for them. They're the same conglomerate but that's Kirbys problem.
      And for 2012 it was only 1.2billion Doubling revenue in a year I doubt it.

      Correction: even though Bourke doesn't work for roadshow he is one of the many owners.

      Last edited 19/06/14 5:00 pm

    NBN and Netflix in Australia, watch piracy rates plummet.

      Not terribly sure I agree. With Foxtel's monopoly bullshit, Netflix in Australia wouldn't have anywhere near the content of the American Netflix. Not saying that more content in Australia wouldn't drop piracy. Just saying that Foxtel won't let there be more content in Australia, unless they have the licence to it.

        Does Foxtel have any legal exclusive right to content? Genuine question. How do they maintain their monopoly?

          News Corp pirated and distributed their competitions access cards which helped to weaken them before they bought them out.

          Not just in Australia but all over the world they were pirating their rivals security and access cards. They got away with it as to much time for any meaningful policy enquiry, plus they sold the company NDS that was doing the hacking.

          Last I heard there was multiple billion dollar civil suites against News Corp as a response to the hacking and piracy.

          A secret unit within Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation promoted a wave of high-tech piracy in Australia that damaged Austar, Optus and Foxtel at a time when News was moving to take control of the Australian pay TV industry.

          The piracy cost the Australian pay TV companies up to $50 million a year and helped cripple the finances of Austar, which Foxtel is now in the process of acquiring.

          A four-year investigation by The Australian Financial Review has revealed a global trail of corporate dirty tricks directed against competitors by a secretive group of former policemen and intelligence officers within News Corp known as Operational Security.

            Dude, Foxtel is a formation between Telstra and News Corp (was three companies but then News Corp bought that too).

            Seriously, how can Foxtel be hacked by News Corp before being created by News Corp, Telstra and Consolidated Media Holdings?

            And that really is a paradox as even if the formation occurred before the hacking, why would News Corp hack its own?

          Foxtel is half owned by News Corp and Telstra owns the other half.

          Given that Telstra owns half, this gives Foxtel a huge advantage over competitors. Telstra has the near monopoly on telecommunications so it most likely costs Telstra pennies to connect customers where as others have to rent access from Telstra or build their own infrastructure (most likely the former as cost is what eventually killed Galaxy back in the day).

          Thus given that Foxtel has a monopoly (and one that has been allowed to happen rather than Foxtel actively seeking it) it is attractive to content distributors but they can basically charge whatever they like and Foxtel can offer the price because it has financial room the others do not.

          Even if week took the News Corp element away, being in bed with Telstra means they still have a significant advantage over others.

      Yeah unfortunately the Aus netflix version would never compare to the US version. It would probably be double the price also !

        I would happily pay double for Netflix. It is the only time I have ever felt like I am being undercharged for a product.

          If you are happy to pay double. This means that if Netflix ever comes to Australia, they will change you 4x the amount.

      meh Netflix library is a nice start on the right track but it's pathetically underwhelming library.

      Foxtel are trying to ensure pirates are smacked one because it encourages a transition to digital consumption. This directly competes with their business model.

    I have no time for a man that thinks Australians should be some of the last people in the world to see a movie that was not only created in Australia, but benefited from Australian government tax breaks.

      I think that where you have the wrong end of the stick is that watching the Lego movie the day it come out in America is not your "right". Someone paid for and owns the movie. If they choose never to release it in Australia that this IS their "right".

        burke's not wrong, he's just an asshole

        Last edited 19/06/14 2:50 am

        And it is this "right" that has got content providers in the predicament they are currently in. Yes, they can make that choice, but when they do, don't cry that the people you are sticking it to don't follow the company line.

    If I could have bought Game of Thrones 720p on the night it came out I'd happy pay. In fact here's my credit card details, more than happy to pay to watch it.

    What does iiNet have to do with this?

    On a further note, Valve's Steam network. Note how they are making loads of money because you can buy the game the day it comes out, download it and play it. No locked in contracts, no wait for DVD release, no bullshit.

    Last edited 18/06/14 2:06 pm

      Amen. No sensible person would pay for a Foxtel subscription at up to $100ish per month to access a few hours of exclusive content. Allow me to subscribe online to stream GoT immediately as it airs in the US (and on demand for the next 7 days at any time) for a fair price? Now I'm listening.

      That's before getting started on the OUTRAGEOUS cost of going to see a movie at the cinema.

      How to be the Australian government: invent a hot button issue to distract from real issues, treat the symptoms of said issue while ignoring the real cause, rinse, repeat.

      Ahh you forgot the CC details...

      Pimply Russian Hacker Guy

    So sick of this bullshit... Half of 'em have their collective heads shoved firmly up Brandis's ass, and the other half can't seem to form a coherent argument, to fight against it...! iiNet are the only ones with a voice and some balls atm... :(

    Last edited 18/06/14 2:06 pm

      They do love a stretch of the truth tho.... Current ads shit me, that our speeds are so slow that even Romania does better

      Romania - 4th fastest internet in the world!

        Romania *my country of birth* has epic internet because it is extremely involved in software side of the global IT industry. and hacking. lol.

        I think that your slow speeds are probably more dependent on the rusty old copper wires connecting to your house than the iiNet infrastructure.

      Industry lobby and Brandis remind me of "The human centipede".

    thats right pirates all those downloaded episodes of game of thrones almost caused village to be unable to fund the most anticipated prequel ever.

    seriously though it gets said every time, instead of being a child about it and moaning and trying to make the stick bigger, how about acting like the ceo of a company that apparently injects $2.6billion into our economy and make the carrot, that doesn't exist here yet.

    Is there really any point trying to refute the comments of this deluded fool?

    OK, How about this?

    Dear Graham Burke,

    Your industry is dying. If you continue down the path you are on the more you will see your business wither. I hope you enjoy the ride. On the way to your inevitable destination may I put you in contact with some friends who used to own a couple of Blockbuster Video stores? I'm sure they have some great stories they can tell you about failing to adapt.

    Or, you can listen to what the market is trying to tell you and change your expectations and your business models to take advantage of a new era of availability.

    You are going to lose, of that there is no doubt. It's how badly you lose that is within your power. The sooner you start sooner it'll be better for all of us.

    Yours faithfully

    The Australian consumer

      ps: remember that time where you, Robert and John used a private company (VRC) so you could 'indirectly' vote through your own remuneration package, even though 82% of minority holders objected? Is that what you call 'playing with a straight bat'?

      pps: Remember that time where you admitted in court that you engaged in some film financing deals stricty as 'tax rorts'? Sure you do - it's the same one where you also claimed to sometimes make irrational business decisions when 'smoking funny stuff'. It's the same time that the Supreme Court said that you, R & J were "prepared to ignore the requirements of the corporations legislation when it suited their purposes". Straighter bat!

      ppps: Remember that time when the ATO shut down a tax avoidance scheme for VRL execs and you had to sell your family farm to pay your tax bill? Straighterer bat!

      pppps: remember that time back in 2003 where you cancelled divs on preference shares and then tried to buy them back at a discount? You know, the time that the Supreme court slapped you down. Twice? Straightererer bat!

      pppps: judging by your age and appearance, you'll be dead soon :)

      Last edited 18/06/14 3:52 pm

        I love a good bit of background - this needs to be copy/pasted across the various news services as this story runs over the next few days.

        Shits me when people are exposed as amoral yet they are still given power and authority over others.

        Best post in the thread.

      If pirating by download is made impossible, the pirates will find other ways. People used to pirate stuff long before the internet dug its heels in. If they want it, they'll get it. Sure selling the stuff at the same time everywhere will not stop piracy all together, but a massive chunk of those who download GoT and the likes, would happily pay money for it. Some money's got to be better than no money!

        Society has looked for the shortcut for as long as they could. Kids would distract the usher while the rest snuck in behind him, or they'd hide a couple of extras in the back seat or boot when going to the drive in.

        There is always a portion of society that looks for the shortcut. The rest are mostly looking for convenience. When the supplier doesnt provide the convenience, thats when the grey option becomes the easier option, which is where we are now.

        I keep looking back to how Foxtel locked up various option with GoT a couple of years ago as a turning point in this whole debate. Rather than let people use a totally legal way to source it, purchase a HD copy of the season through iTunes, they bought the rights and denied access.

        That tells me they arent interested in the customers interest in the slightest, and are purely after profit. So screw em.

      Actually, on the subject of Blockbuster Video and failure. Has anyone heard Nokia or Blackberry blaming the telcos for failing to sell their 'stuck in the last decade' technology (yes, I know they both still exist, but they're shadows of their former glory)? How much sympathy do you think the market had for Cobb and Co when the automobile began to roll over the top of them? I know my grandparent's candlestick maker was very upset when they decided to install that new fangled electricity in their home.

      History is littered with overrun empires, technologies and markets. From Rome and the great British empire, to IBM's OS/2, Lotus' 123, tape recorders (Video and audio) and charging extra for long distance phone calls.

      Resistance is futile.

        As good and groundbreaking as Windows 95 was, it was soon out of date. They had the sense to keep developing new products, for better or worse, and have stayed relevant, but if you went back and tried to use Windows 95 now, man its dated.

    This kind of commentary (by Burke) is unfortunately rich with sophism.

    For example, piracy in Australia may indeed be higher than in the US (which is considerably larger). However, this is a ridiculous comparison because if could equally be deployed to show that having a range of media consumption options (such as are available in the US) profoundly decreases piracy.

    Another example: if people were streaming from legal online services, then they would still be consuming large quantities of data and they would still need to be obtaining that data through an ISP. If consumption dropped due to the need to purchase (i.e. people stopped buying because of the cost) then data use would drop and the ISPs could be worse off. However, that would put paid to the argument that a pirated copy is a lost sale, because if each pirated copy was a lost sale the number of downloads wouldn't drop - just the source would (from a pirate source to a legal source). Indeed, if current piracy-related traffic were all converted to traffic from legitimate sources then the ISPs would be much better off because they would be able to either have peering arrangements with content providers (reducing the amount of international traffic and thus costs), or internally host streaming servers (as Netflix does with some ISPs in the US) and then that traffic wouldn't leave their network at all - the ultimate in cheap data.

    Leaving aside arguments of ethics and law, the arguments relating to causation are just not logically sound and frankly they ignore all evidence from the changes of consumer behaviour with music through the advent of iTunes and the like. As such, I have very little sympathy for Burke and his ilk.

    If they were willing to actually experiment and see what the outcomes were then perhaps they would actually find out how to reduce piracy and increase revenue. Instead, they are clinging to a business model that is failing to hold up in the modern world (since people can VPN to Netflix, etc) and that has consequences.

    Whose side are we on? Village Roadshow already spent $megabucks on campaign support for the liberals, so we know whose side they are on.
    iiNet provides internet, they do not create content but allow people to access more content on Youtube and the like, than VR would dream of showing.
    Burke says that content creators already have new business models in place for the modern corporate lawyer.

    There aint now change to copyright law for the consumer or the small content creator. Demonise piracy, force change that makes it easier for corporate lawyers

      An analysis by ZDNet of the annual donor returns listed on the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) of reported donations to the political parties shows that since 1998, Village Roadshow has donated close to AU$4 million in total to the Labor and Liberal parties both federally and in the state branches.
      The biggest donations from Village Roadshow came in the 2010-11 financial year, around the time of the 2010 federal election, and when AFACT's case against iiNet was in the appeal stage.

    Get some gun economists to work out what the true cost of piracy is to the entertainment industry and then tax ISPs for the amount, which will then be passed on to consumers. Analysis of piracy in other countries has shown it has very little economic effect, so I'm happy to make this bet.

      Don't give them any ideas! With hollywood's random number generator for an estimate of the cost of piracy on sales, we'll all be paying $700 a month for internet.

      theres a ted talk that showed that ent industry grew a few $bn year on year deite claimsof losses and difficult bus environment

      Last edited 19/06/14 2:57 am

      The latest GDP figures show that the Entertainment Industry (All of it not just what AFACt et al are about) contributes a whopping 0.5% to the Australian economy. I'll say that again. Zero point five percent!

      Oh did I say whopping.. my bad.. I was being facetious. I should of typed measly

    I'm afraid I stopped reading here:

    “iiNet have been very vocal in the media about piracy and I find that quite sad. They resort to lies to forward their case whereas I believe we [Village Roadshow and the content industry] deal with a straight bat. We represent and what is in the best interest of 906k Aussies whose lives depend on copyright."

    A straight bat? These CEOs and various other media moguls are so crooked they can't even lie straight in bed.

    He Truly is handling this the wrong way. piracy strikes wont work because it would be too simple to argue that someone gained unauthorized access to your wifi signal and downloaded the files.

    Wouldn't be surprised if some knob in Canberra comes up with a piracy tax soon !

    Last edited 18/06/14 2:23 pm

      Most certainly. Precedent in the US: IP address != a person.

    "They know that’s a lie because of the music industry. In June alone there was 1.2 million illegal downloads of music, and that’s released at exactly the same time everywhere,”

    I'm sorry, exactly when did this (above) start happening? Last month i wanted to purchase a copy of an album by "St Paul and the Broken Bones". Couldn't buy it in Oz on itunes, nor Google. COULD get a copy on the US itunes/Google sites and it had been out for a few weeks in the US by then.

    Just how stupid does this douche bag think we are and what sort of a fairy-tale land is he living in? I'm also really damned curious as to just what sort of kick backs is he going to get/getting out of all this.

      The other problem with his argument is that we shouldn't do anything to reduce piracy because there will always be pirates.

      Which is about as moronic as saying you should feel free to display all your valuables in your home and car windows because statistics show that criminals break into homes and cars which don't have valuables in plain sight.

      It frustrates me anytime I see someone pull out that outright idiotic shit. "Lol people pirate anyway cuz their titeasses"
      There will always be thieves, there will always be muggings, there will always be pirates. This does NOT mean that we leave our doors unlocked, walk around with pockets stuffed with c-notes, or continue to abuse regional markets in a global marketplace.

    hey know that’s a lie because of the music industry. In June alone there was 1.2 million illegal downloads of music, and that’s released at exactly the same time everywhere,” Burke said

    Yes but with music, we can buy one track for as little as $1AUD each. For movies we have to wait, they cost more to own in comparison to movies (regardless of format or consumption method used), and also pay a massive amount at the cinema, as well as when buying the DVD/Blu-Ray or digital download versions in comparison to other countries, even after conversion rates and GST is applied.

      $1 for a 3 minute track is about $30 for a 90 minute movie, the difference being is that music usually has better replay value.

        that and you dont go to the cinema to listen to a song, and then have to wait 6+ months to be able to listen to it again

    Why would people pirate with options like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Now, etc? Oh, that's right, I have to DNS spoof to use those services because they're blocked from Australia so village roadshow can make money keeping prices artificially high and stagger releases.

    You still can't work out why Australian's pirate more than American's who actually have new business models available to them?

    *edit* why bother. dinosaurs will be dinosaurs.

    Last edited 18/06/14 2:44 pm

    This has nothing to do with "Content creators", it's about lowly local content redistributors. Village Roadshow is nothing more than a man in the middle, fighting for the right to block content coming to us any other way but through them so they can continue to take their cut of profit from it.
    That's framing the battle correctly, and I think we should all be aware of that. These articles should really make a note of that.

    Last edited 18/06/14 2:27 pm

      Lol this is spot on. I love the fact Burke condemns iinet's stance saying that they contribute nothing (you know, because his online content distribution business could totally exist without internet services, right) and merely reaps the benefits of users who supposedly sign up solely for the pruporse of online pirating.....MEANWHILE, Burke actual role is literally to payroll content creators (i.e. an investor), that is literally the nature of his side of the business. It's ethically wrong of him to try and put himself in the same boat as actual artists and content creators, its a fucking weasly and morally obnoxious stance to take to such a complex issues as pirating.

    Rather than grab the pitch forks and knives perhaps it is better to understand the real reason why there are more people downloading Breaking Bad in a country of 23 million people than in America with 300 million people. I believe availability and pricing might well be a factor and in the online world availability and pricing shouldn't be a factor. It's time to throw out the old model, the genie is out of the bottle and it ain't going back.

    Last edited 18/06/14 2:28 pm

      Maybe because the man is on $3 million plus a year it doesn't register to him that the costs to watch a new TV show in Australia is high.

      Unfortunately the rest of us don't have money falling from our pockets and have to find alternatives to Foxtel

    Perhaps we've touched a nerve.

    Mr Burke is obviously concerned about the increasing threat to his 'middle-man' status by the changes in technology and has failed to mention his colleague Simon Bush's comments that the (Aust Home Entertainment Distributor's Assoc) figures showed that "on a per capita basis Australia is second only to the United States in digital consumer revenues".

    So Australians are not only the worst pirates, but one of their best performing markets. "Outrageous!"

    Piracy is wrong. We don't condone it. But it's not our job to fix.

    Mr Burke suggests that my comments are outrageous. I'm sure he doesn't like us pointing out some of the outrageous suggestions from his own industry.

    You know ... stuff like "You wouldn't steal a car, you wouldn't steal a handbag ..."
    It's not our job to catch car thieves.
    It's not our job to catch bag-snatchers.
    It's not our job to stop on-line infringers.

    Whoa ! "Outrageous!"

    Mr Burke also shows his ignorance of the ISP revenue model. Not only is he totally wrong, but I think he fails to be outrageous. The ISP subscription model, commonly in place in Australia, does not charge by the download, as he suggests, it is a fixed fee per month. In that model ( a bit like gym membership) the less data a customer uses, the more profitable they are.

    This was an argument that failed the logic test in the High Court, but don't let that get in the way of your outrage Mr Burke.

    Finally, if this is all about protecting 906,000 Aussie jobs why is it that not one single example of Aussie content ever gets a mention. It's always about American movies, music and TV.

    If you want to protect Aussie jobs, Mr Burke, how about you turn up to the industry talks and put something on the table? Where is the quid-pro-quo for Australian ISPs to do the bidding of your American masters?

    No. I thought not.

      Kudos Steve for being at the frontlines on this issue.
      My household specifically chose iiNet because of your considered stance on this issue.

      Whether or not people are torrenting or using a legitimate service for media consumption it is not the ISP's role to police.

      You will continue to have my support and business through thick and thin and once the dust settles, my loyalty will likely remain with iiNET for years to come.

      Thankyou for being the willing public face of this issue in australia and I am thankful Google came forward in support of the ISP's.

      Keep the fight happening. It's great news that Google has been working hard to get us near immediate access to the hit shows, so I'll be making good use of that now. Piracy isn't about stealing, it's about getting access to content with minimal delay. With fair prices and fast access to content there is next to no reason to pirate content.

      Long term Westnet customer.

      Steve, you're a total legend and we love what you do.

      I think this point is particularly telling: "on a per capita basis Australia is second only to the United States in digital consumer revenues"

      Imagine how much more profitable that business would be if they were to capture just 50% of the current 'pirate' market with an affordable and user-friendly Netflix-style service!

      Steve, you considered launching legal proceedings against Mr Burke? A lot of this stuff could be extremely defamatory (suggesting that you as an ISP both condone and base a business model around piracy, for instance).

        Corporations cannot be defamed in Australia.

        This basically means that Burke talking out of his arse cannot also defame his own industry which he is so clearly doing since they are now being painted as being run by incompetent loons!

      I'm with Steve. It's not an ISPs job to stop piracy, just like it isn't Holden's job to stop car thieves, or any criminal that uses a car for robberies. Content providers like Village Roadshow need to wear most of the blame for not providing us with the content that we desire at a cost that is affordable.

      To prove my point, I'm going to use the Lego Movie as an example (since it is conveniently pictured at the top of this story). I had intended to go see this movie in the cinema when it was first released. However, due to both time and financial constraints, I was unable to, and thus I won't be seeing the movie until it is out on DVD, and on sale. Until then, Village Roadshow aren't getting a damn cent out of me, and if they don't like that, deal with it.

      To use Foxtel as another example, I used to have Foxtel through my xbox360, but with the recent change from the "Foxtel on xbox360" app to the new "Foxtel Play" app, and the price increases due to new, unwanted, channels being added, I could no longer afford or use the Foxtel service, and had to cancel it (note I stated that pricing, as well as a dodgy program forced me to leave). I would be quite happy to stay with Foxtel if the packages were changed to allow more flexibility in what channels I could choose, and/or if the price was reduced, but as it currently stands, I cannot afford to use it.

      Pricing, Mr Burke, is the largest reason why Australians pirate content. If the pricing is made more affordable, fair, and equitable, more Australians will stop pirating and actually buy the content. You will never be able to completely stop piracy, but trying to use the ISPs as your sledgehammer will not work. I wouldn't be surprised if the level of piracy stays the same, or even, heaven forbid, increases under a "three-strikes" regime.

      Until Village Roadshow, Foxtel, and all other greedy companies like these can change, and adapt their systems, and distribution methods to suit what is profitable for them, AND fair/equitable for us, the consumers, the piracy issue will not go away.

    " - These guys are obviously already wealthy as all hell and completely out of touch, shouldn't even care people download because its highly likely them doing that will make them go out and purchase the series/books/merchandise/game for said movie/tvseries- "

    ~ The Elephant in the room.

    If I can't download Breaking Bad, I'll just borrow the whole box set from a friend. That's a lost sale, so should that be piracy too?

      Techically it is breaking the law bad (puns!), but so were VHS recorders, and here we are.

        No it isn't. The licence to DVDs doesn't preclude lending, and VHS recording for the purposes of time shifting (but not long term storage and rewatch) was specifically permitted in law.

          I have no idea how many dvds I have that say individual use only and not for resale but lets say all of them.

            Australian Copyright Council: Lending items protected by copyright:
            The rights of the copyright owner do not include the right to lend copyright material. Therefore,
            lending copyright material does not in itself infringe copyright. However, in some cases, there are
            further issues you need to consider that may affect your right to lend material protected by

            (Emphasis mine)

            In short: lending in not a breach of copyright law, but could be a breach of the licence of the product itself.
            I haven't been able to find any trustworthy information (or indeed almost any information) relating to the enforceability of any provision that would cover lending to friends (or indeed a specific definition of what is included in 'individual use'). Whirlpool's Australian Copyright Info suggests that lending a friend to a CD is legal, but I would prefer a more legally-oriented source.

            Note: I should point out that this means my earlier statement about 'DVD licences not precluding lending' may be wrong. The Law doesn't preclude it, but it is unclear whether the licence does (or can).

            Last edited 19/06/14 9:23 am

              Well there it is then. It doesn't it isn't illegal but doesn't clarify if it is not not illegal. At the end of this I see a bunch of laws that are cryptic to suit the companies.

                My interpretation is more like "under copyright law it isn't illegal unless the licence specifically prohibits it", and it isn't clear whether the licence actually prohibits it because it isn't clear what constitutes 'individual use' as it isn't clearly defined.
                There may be precedent which provides some insight into what is considered 'individual use', but IANAL.

              I have spoken to ACCC previously regarding software being sold by a company individually but on the back of the box it states "not for individual sale" and been told that it is not legally binding FWIW

      Im pretty sure technically it is yes. under current laws you don't own it and if you borrow it without paying you are a criminal lol

    1. NO ONE ever said a movie has to be available anywhere on the same time, only on the same platform. Cinemas every where at once, TV, dvds, etc

    2. You can come up with a trillion new business model, but as far the public sees, you don't even implement a single new one for the past 50 years!

    3. There will always be pirate, doesn't matter what! that 1.2 million song download will easily be 12 million if itunes didn't force the change in music industry

    4. Downloading illegally is still faster, better quality. DRM free and of course free. No, I don't think you can beat the price, but at least match the rest!

      I'd love for movies to be available for streaming at the same time as a cinema release. I really want to go and see movies, but I have a small child so getting out is much harder than it would otherwise be.

      For me and others like me, we have the choice between not seeing the film until it is released on other formats in the future, or downloading a (often relatively poor quality) copy of the film to watch. Not to say that I would or do download the dodgy pirate copy. However, it isn't a case of people only wanting to get that copy because they don't want to pay to go to the cinema.

    “That’s part of their fabric of lies.” I feel like this is one monkey throwing feces at another monkey for throwing feces at him. My issue is not so much movies, but TV. Availability sucks, and if I can watch it, its doesn't suit my schedule and just miss it. Are all the media outlets being fair when they're is a demand for Netflix in Australia, but they are blocking it ? Scared of a real competitor ? I will see a movie if it is worth while, I will buy it on Blu-Ray, but the amount of garbage is spun out at the cinema for $17 for 1 ticket now is just insane, and makes me more un-sure if I want to see it, and probably just don't.

    What do you expect from someone with a vested interest in the business models of the mid 20th century?

    What the internet has done is to change the world into one global market, those who persist in trying to create localized monopolies will suffer as users go around them and find alternative means to obtain whatever they desire.

    If they won't get with the program, let em die.

    Last edited 18/06/14 2:51 pm

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