Village Roadshow Slams Google Australia Over Piracy

Australia has a new anti-piracy advocate, and he’s swinging for the fences when it comes to stopping people downloading content illegally. We’d like to re-introduce you to Graham Burke. He’s the co-executive chairman of Village Roadshow in Australia. He hates that you baulk at ticket prices, donates heavily to the Liberal Party and puts on special government screenings so he can talk to the Attorney-General about piracy. Now he’s laying into Google Australia over its stance on piracy.

Massive piracy crackdowns are back on the agenda in Australia, after the Attorney-General George Brandis was given a mandate to stamp out the prolific practise of downloading content illegally in Australia. Brandis has since been holding court with the film industry, ISPs and other interested parties, and so far, Google’s answer to the piracy problem has been the most sensible.

Google Australia brought us some common sense in the anti-piracy debate a while back when it sent Malcolm Turnbull a letter saying that Australian piracy is a pricing and availability problem.

Village Roadshow co-chairman and anti-piracy crusader Graham Burke isn’t a fan of Google butting into the discussion, and outright slammed the web giant in Australia for “contributing little” to the nation.

Burke reportedly said that he’s “outraged” at Google Australia’s advice, saying that the company “produces nothing” in Australia and pays little to no tax into Australian coffers.

As far as the tax thing goes, we have to agree with him: Google Australia is on a list of companies being investigated by the Australian Tax Office for allegedly shirking taxation responsibilities, but saying that it “contributes nothing” is a big call. Accusing the office that builds Maps, Docs, Drive and optimises Search and Voice Search for one of the biggest companies in the world of “doing nothing” is a pretty big call.

Burke said that by comparison, his company has contributed over $1 billion to the Australian economy. That clearly makes more qualified to lecture Australians than ever.

Burke, who co-chairs a company which in Australia has a chain of cinemas in Victoria and Tasmania and theme parks in Queensland, added that Google Australia, an arm of a multi-billion dollar web giant that has become the byword for internet search, lobbies the government to protect its “narrow business model”. You can read more on his quotes here.

Despite the advice from Google, Brandis still looks set to implement archaic three-strikes laws against pirates while simultaneously targeting ISPs over infringements. Brandis now has a new friend in Village Roadshow’s Burke, who hates piracy just as much as he does.

Burke chairs Village Roadshow Australia, which has ramped up the anti-piracy rhetoric to near fever-pitch status following the high-profile defeat at the hands of iiNet in the High Court last year.

Burke recently came out at a special showing of The LEGO Movie to politicians in Canberra and personally thanked the Attorney-General for his tough new stance against pirates, and his willingness to implement new regulation to stamp out the illegal downloading of content.

He then went on record defending the high cost of cinema tickets, saying that piracy was to blame for their hike.

Now he’s slamming the most sensible advice we’ve had in a long time about solving the piracy problem, perhaps because an open streaming market would see cinemas like Burke’s slowly fade in the same way video rental stores have in the last decade.

What do you think? Who is right in the great piracy debate?

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