Village Roadshow Files First Legal Action in Australia to Block Piracy Site

Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
Village Roadshow aims to protect its properties, such as 'Mad Max: Fury Road,' from being pirated.

Hollywood studios support the move targeting the SolarMovies site, the first action under new laws in the country.

Village Roadshow, the Australian entertainment giant and parent company of Mad Max: Fury Road producer Village Roadshow Pictures, has filed legal action in the nation’s Federal Court to block Australian Internet users from accessing websites that it says facilitate piracy.

Studios, including Warner Bros., Paramount, Universal, Sony, Disney and Fox, have joined the Village Roadshow suit, according to local reports.

The action against SolarMovies is the first action taken in the country under the Copyright Amendment (online infringement) Act passed by the Australian parliament in June. The new law means that users of the site won't be prosecuted. Instead, Internet service providers are required to put domain name server (DNS) blocks in place, which prevent Australian users from accessing the site. Rights holders apply to the court to have the websites blocked, the court in turn orders ISPs to put the blocks in place.

Village Roadshow co-chairman Graham Burke, one of the industry’s most active anti-piracy campaigners, says site blocking has been implemented in over 40 markets worldwide, including in the U.K., Italy, France, Malaysia, India and Korea, and has been succesfully used in the U.K and Singapore.

“Initially we're addressing SolarMovies because they're a particularly vicious bunch of thieves. They're making illicit millions with their disgusting advertising,” Burke told ABC Radio.

“If we don't take action and if we don't fight back, in Australia, with 24 million people, there will not be a Red Dog, there will not be a Gallipoli, there will not be a Mad Max, there will not be an Oddball,” said Burke referring to some of the most successful Australian films of recent years.

Separately, pay TV group Foxtel, half owned by News Corp, will reportedly bring similar action against sites, including Pirate Bay.  

Burke said that in addition to legal action the industry needs to be more proactive in its fight against piracy. "The legislation has to be accompanied by sincere, passionate communication to win people over, and we have to continue to provide product in a timely and affordable way," Burke told Fairfax Media.

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