Report: Australian Pirates Are About To Get Sued This Year [Updated]

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Australian pirates have just been put on notice. The chairman for Creative Content Australia - a consortium of rights holders that counts Foxtel, Village Roadshow and the Australian Screen Association (ASA) among its members - has issued a stern warning to anyone who continues to access pirated content. In short, you can expect to be sued this year.

Update: A previous version of this story attributed Graham Burke's remarks to the Creative Content Australia organisation. Creative Content Australia is an educational initiative that does not sue Australians for piracy.

The announcement follows the government-imposed blacklisting of more than 60 piracy sites in Australia. If you're one of the many Australians who has been circumventing the blocks, it's time to start worrying.

After successfully lobbying the government to force internet service providers (ISPs) to block so-called piracy websites and associated domain names, the rights holders are preparing to come after individual infringers. If you've been torrenting season 7 of Game Of Thrones instead of paying Foxtel, this means you.

"[The blocks] have what is effectively 95 per cent of the criminal trade blocked,” said Creative Content Australia chairman Graham Burke, better known as the co-CEO of Village Roadshow.

But it appears the industry doesn't think these trade blocks go far enough. In an interview with News' Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson, Burke dropped the following bombshell (emphasis ours):

We plan, later this year, to sue any individual that continues to download pirated content. If we find that someone is infringing our content, we’ll send them a warning and we’ll also be suing them for damages.

Burke went on to say that the damages being sought would be in the region of a "speeding fine". Depending on the type of penalty Burke was alluding to, this could be anywhere between $80 and $2000+ per infringement.

It's worth noting that this isn't the first time Burke has threatened to sue pirates in Australia. In a 2015 interview on SBS 2's The Feed, Burke said: "[Pirates] have been warned, notices issued that they have been doing the wrong thing. Yes we will sue people. [These people] have been doing the wrong thing, and they’ve been sent appropriate notices, and [they will be] dealt with accordingly."

We're mildly surprised to see Creative Content Australia's chairman issue threats in this manner. The organisation bills itself as "an educational initiative committed to raising awareness about the value of screen content, role of copyright and impact of piracy."

On its website, the organisation lists Research, Consumer Campaigns and Education Resources as the three key areas it works in. Nowhere does it mention prosecuting pirates. Unfortunately, it would seem its current chairman would rather substitute the carrot for the stick.

Presumably, before any litigation can take place, rights holders will need to compel ISPs to hand over the billing information of IP addresses suspected of infringing. In others words, we could be about to see Dallas Buyers Club 2.0 play out in court. We'll be updating this story as soon as we have more information.



    How are they going to do this? Reverse lookup of an IP address? That hasn't held up in court before IIRC.

      It's a bluff. Burke is beating his chest and thinking that will scare those away from torrents.

      What Burke fails to realise is he is insignificant and of no relevance in this day and age thus his acts are destined to fail.

        Would you then say he is a Burke?

      Precedent should apply or at least influence any future attempts, so it's likely the same restrictions applied last time will apply again. It's worth remembering though that it wasn't the addresses that were the problem last time, it was the company trying to write letters the court didn't approve of and trying to do speculative invoicing. If they change their approach to comply with the court's requirements this time, it may be permitted.

        If they go after smaller amounts in damages it'll have a higher chance as well, I believe last time an issue the courts had too was that they wanted smaller fines. If they went for something reasonable like a $250 fine for damages then retail cost to buy each item downloaded on top of that it'd have a higher chance of being allowed by courts than if they go for some absurb high amount of damages.

          Yeah, this. The DBC case were seeking damages in the tens of thousands of dollars, and the court didn't like that, nor did they like what they considered speculative invoicing. If they're seeking damages around $2000 or less as suggested in the article, the court may be prepared to accept that as punitive in nature.

          In the dallas buyers club case the court said they couldn't go after punitive damages at all, they could only go for the cost of one film ticket (or dvd or whatever).

          The film company wanted:
          -The cost of the purchase of a single copy of the film, for each copy downloaded
          -A "licence fee" for each person found to have also uploaded the film
          -Extra damages depending on how many copies of other copyrighted works had been downloaded by each infringer
          -Court costs for expenses in retrieving each downloader's name

          The court said yeah nah so the company abandoned the case.

    95 % blocked, ahhahahahahahah, hang on a sec while I bend over and pull out some completely unsubstantiated BS stats I cant prove.
    Even if it was legit, its more likely 95% went to no log, DNS leak proof VPN
    fuken clown shoes

      Shhh. They'll ban VPNs next.

      And I wish I was joking.

        Already banned in Russia. Who knows how long it'll take for 1984 to arrive on Australian shores?

      Thing is, technically they HAVE blocked 95%. Blocking something with tissue paper is still blocking it, no matter how ineffective it is in reality.

      I wonder how they justify suing if the source site is on the 'blocked' list. Surely if they are satisfied that its 'blocked' to the point they are claiming as such, then its not something they'd monitor.

      Lots for a defence lawyer to get stuck into now there is an accepted process in place.

    I download GoT via an encrypted channel from a private server. Then pay for it when the season is up on Google.

      I use Blockchain in The Cloud for Cyber Security synergy and then donate to a charity...

      ...*goes to ThePirateBay with nothing but an ad blocker*

      This year I subbed directly to HBO, it came with a free month so full season plus guilt free other things for $15US.

        VPN I assume. Do they take Aus credit cards?

    I pay for netflix but watch my shows when they release on youtube

    'speeding fine' right. I thought we already had this run through court and that precedent set over Dallas Buyers Club was content holders could only go for what would be reasonable ie the going rate of paying to see the movie etc

      They didn't, though - DBC were asking for $60,000 or something trying to argue that by torrenting it, they were distributing it and therefore needed a distribution license. The court didn't accept that, nor did they accept the letters that the rights holders were trying to send. At no point did they suggest that "reasonable" would be "the price of watching the movie" - because the majority of people in a torrent swarm are uploading, and thus contributing to distribution.

    Burke went on to say that the damages being sought would be in the region of a "speeding fine". Depending on the type of speeding fine Burke was alluding to, this could be anywhere between $80 and $2000+ per infringement.So they still want to use speculative invoicing, but they have narrowed down a range... The counts won't allow this based on that one piece of information alone like they did in the Dallas Buyers Club vs iiNet case. The precedent had already been set.

    Not to mention it's a privacy issue too. Once a company has the IP, nothing is stopping them from setting up logs that record all information, including information not related to torrents and doing whatever they want with it.

    This whole thing is doomed to fail from the start. Best LOL of 2017.

      Once they get an IP? That is the first thing they get. They join a swarm and record IP's. They get them before anything else.

      There is no real way to 'log' everything an IP does unless you can get every website and service ever to hand their logs over to you. Not going to happen. The only group that can log what you are doing is an ISP (malware and three letter agencies also most likely).

      Once they get the IP, they have to get the person that was using it at the time it was recorded. This is where the ISP's come in. Some will provide, some won't. Courts can be used to compel them to do this if required.

    Are they going to pursue specific cases, such as popular movies and tv series? Or just blanket fines for anything, no matter how obscure? I've downloaded some old music, that most people have probably never heard of, and the muscians dead, so would such a case be pursued?

      The proposal I read was it'd be a one time infringement fee then a cost to buy price for each item downloaded that the rights holder owns the rights to.

      How old is the music? If it's old enough, the copyright might have lapsed anyway. Would probably also depend on how obscure it is - if the copyright is held by some tiny record company they might not have the resources to go after this kind of thing. Especially if there aren't enough people pirating it to make it worth the effort.

      Yes, specific things. They have a company join a bit torrent swarm and then log all the IP addresses in the swarm.

      We have no idea how widespread it is or if they have started or not however.

    Come the fuck at me. And the millions of other Australians pirating GoT and thousands of other shows.
    The overheads of catching everyone who DL'd GoT alone makes it not worth their while.
    Bashcraft, you are purposefully making it sound scarier than it is.

      The exact opposite actually. Economies of scale and all that.

    I haven't received any kind of notice. Am I about to get sued?

    good luck dinosaur industry leaders...... You had your chance to move and evolve with the market but refused to give consumers a choice.

    I find it amusing people still bother to torrent when there are a myriad of other methods to watch whatever we like.....

    So in all these stories still zero mention of Usenet?

      SSL encryption is a beautiful thing. No-one knows *which* Linux distributions I'm downloading each month.

    I have a great strategy to kill piracy in Australia.

    Stop overcharging Aussies just for being Aussies, let Aussies view the content when they want to, and let Aussies access all the content not just <10%. Simple!

    This is why Australia is the piracy capital of the world! Aussies won't stand for being overcharged by greedy rightsholders that also hold back most of the content, and won't give us a choice on how we watch said content.

    Good luck binge-watching your favorite series on Foxtel, when they repeat an episode from a season that's years old 20+ times a week, and good luck keeping up with the cat-and-mouse game Netflix plays to deny Aussies of most of their content. Piracy is the only way, especially when Blu-rays of these seasons also cost more in Australia (Like everything else) because of the infamous OzTax, and are released a year after getting released on Foxtel, which is a year or longer after releasing in the US.

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