Warning ‘Strikes’ Don’t Work On Me, Movie Boss Admits

A key strategy of the entertainment industries is to repeatedly warn pirating Internet users of their illegal behavior in the belief they will change their ways. However, co-chief of movie company Village Roadshow has just admitted that he's been caught breaking the law numerous times - and he still hasn't learned.

pirate-cardAs 2015 hits its mid-point, a handful of key strategies are clearly favored by the world’s largest entertainment companies.

Perhaps the most prominent this year thus far have been efforts to have sites blocked at the ISP level. Most recently Australia went through the months long process of introducing the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015 and last week the Bill passed the Senate.

Earlier today the legislation received Royal Assent, meaning it is now firmly cast into local law.

With attention now turning to which copyright holders will bring the first site-blocking action (hint: movie industry, within six months), another anti-piracy strategy is almost ready to fly.

After the introduction of the United States’ “six strikes” program, in the coming months Aussie citizens are likely to be subjected to a similar “three strikes” regime. The idea is that after receiving an “educational” notice and then a “warning” notice, local Internet pirates will finally comply with the law before receiving a scary “final notice”.

This type of regime has the backing of some of the world’s largest entertainment companies, including the co-chief of Aussie movie giant Village Roadshow. However, despite giving the scheme his backing, Graham Burke has revealed that even people of his stature can be completely immune to government-backed educational efforts.

In an interview published by SMH this morning in which he again calls for action against piracy, Burke notes that society wouldn’t say “Hey we’re not going to have legislation against drunken driving or high-speed driving or legislation against stealing.”

Indeed, for driving offenses, Australia runs a demerit system, whereby each logged offense accumulates a set number of points. Get to 12 points and you’re at risk of getting your license suspended. But of course, the idea is that people will wise up before then and, more importantly, before they end up killing someone.

At its educational core the demerit program is similar to the “three strikes” system, albeit with much higher stakes. Trouble is, it doesn’t work on Burke. In fact, he appears completely immune to the numerous opportunities granted to him by the government.

“I got a note last night saying I’d been photographed by a camera in my car exceeding the speed limit and I’ve lost three points,” he told tech editor Ben Grubb. “As I’ve already lost nine points it’s rather worrying.”

While Burke faces having his license suspended for failing to heed the warnings, three-time piracy offenders face having their details handed over to copyright holders who may decide to sue. Of course, Village Roadshow are the major Hollywood-affiliated movie company in Australia, so Burke himself will almost certainly have a hand in who gets sued and when.

Fortunately, it seems that his company won’t make a habit of taking legal action. Burke says that they won’t be afraid to sue people “that act in a criminal way” but hopefully Village Roadshow “won’t have to sue too many people”.

Indeed, Burke will hope that ‘pirates’ take their warnings more seriously than he has done, even though he will have faced fines for his transgressions and they will not. He would’ve preferred some punishment, he reveals, but is satisfied with the direction of the scheme.

“A good agreement is when both sides are not deliriously happy but both sides are happy,” Burke says. “Am I thrilled? No. Do I think it’s a good code? Yes.”

So now all eyes turn to September 1, when the new “strikes” code is set to begin. Will the public respond to the warning notices? Or will they bury their heads in the sand like Burke has done until it’s too late?

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