Content Cafe


Industry practitioners speak out against online theft of screen content

by Creative Content Australia

Emile Sherman – Producer Lion, The King’s Speech

“Lion has been embraced by paying audiences all around the world. But millions of people have streamed or downloaded it from pirate websites without paying. While Lion drew on the best creative talent from across borders, it is at heart an Australia story. These independent films are as much at risk from online piracy as studio blockbusters, by jeopardising investment in the already very risky business of film production. And, while many consumers don’t consider the impact of piracy when accessing films online without paying, they are now putting themselves at risk from the malware, ransomware and spyware that infests piracy sites.”

Curtis Hill – Director of The Price of Piracy campaign spots featuring Bryan Brown

“The livelihoods of so many hard working people in this industry depend on a future without piracy. It’s pretty worrying to think that if piracy continues at this rate, I may not have a future in this industry. This isn’t a media-beat-up; it’s a real problem. It’s affecting the amount of stuff being made and it’s affecting people’s livelihoods.”

Simon Bush – CEO, Australian Home Entertainment Distributors Association

“This campaign, following the court mandated piracy site blocks, is incredibly important. Mothers and fathers don’t understand the risks associated with what seems like harmless film piracy by their kids. Notwithstanding the ethical questions about ripping off content that hasn’t been paid for, the campaign highlights the real online dangers we are exposing our children to by often turning a blind eye or worse, encouraging. It must stop.”

Kingston Anderson – CEO, Australian Directors Guild

“Australian film and TV directors, working locally or globally, are considered amongst the best in the world. Their skills and talents make them the key creative drivers of screen production – critical to the creation of great screen content. Yet, 50 per cent of the ADG’s full members earn less than $25,000 p/annum. In order to continue to contribute to culture, diversity and economic growth in Australia, it is imperative that directors be allowed to make a living from their work. Screen piracy undermines this and threatens the jobs of the 47,000 Australians working in the creative sector. Great content is readily and widely available and the directors of Australia urge the public to seek out legal services for the movies and TV shows they love to watch.”

Marta Dusseldorp – Actor

“I’ve been an actor for 25 years and I have loved every minute of making, sharing and developing Australian stories to strengthen and empower our voice both here at home and around the world. This can only happen when audience demand and appreciation equates to a reasonable profit for investors and the creatives of these shows. When a TV show airs, the people who invest and make that story look at how the audience embraces it, to see if it succeeds critically and economically. When these stories are stolen, the official viewer numbers are lower and hence the overall enthusiasm is dampened and the show’s survival is threatened. In the past it might have been hard to watch your favourite show. Now it is easy to find, to pay what it is worth, enjoy, and also contribute to the success of our stories. Together we need to build and nurture a vibrant local storytelling industry. Please don’t steal our future stories. Your choice makes a difference.”

Ben Grant – MD, Goalpost Pictures

“Goalpost has been making films and TV shows since the 1990s and has seen digital technology revolutionise content distribution. Our business models have evolved with this change. Our industry wants to remain viable and continue to produce Australian product. Illegal viewing via downloading and streaming threatens our business models and our ability to keep making quality Australian productions. Sadly our film The Sapphires was #46 on the Top 100 most pirated films from the 2015 American Film Market Report. Season 1 of our show Cleverman was #2 on the piracy charts behind Game of Thrones in 2016. Whilst this shows that many people are accessing our shows, piracy is simply not good news for us as it directly threatens our ability to share our successes with the creatives who made the show and severely limits our ability to fund future work.”

Carmel Travers – Producer

“Behind every film and television show in Australia sit scores, sometimes hundreds, of individuals who’ve invested time, energy and money in creating and telling those stories. Most of those people do what they do out of a passionate determination to tell Australian stories, to make sure our children grow up watching Australians on screen, hearing Australian voices, and breathing life into great Australian creative ideas. It’s a tough industry – always has been. But piracy robs everyone in the industry of the right to a commercial return for their labours. It erodes the capacity of an Australian producer to bring to life iconic characters like The Magic Pudding. By illegally downloading content, everyone who does so is banging another nail in the coffin of an already tough industry. If we want a viable Australian screen industry, the pirating of content needs to be called out for what it is – theft.”

Zoe Angus – Director, MEAA Equity, the union for Australian performers

“It is not only film and TV producers who are hurt by copyright infringement and piracy. It is stealing from Australian actors and performers whose livelihood is dependent on re-sales and licensing of the productions they appear in. For those reasons, MEAA Equity supports this important new campaign by Creative Content and urge audiences and consumers to think twice before illegally copying or downloading other people’s work.”

John Jarratt – Actor/Producer/Director

“We know that people who pirate films and TV often don’t think about the effects of their actions on people like me who make their living from this business, or people who invest in the business so productions can be financed, but maybe they’ll think twice when they realise just how bloody dangerous these pirate sites can be. This malware can infect your computer, steal your passwords and account information, even rip off your identity. The people who run these sites are hard-core and they mean business. Seems a pretty big risk to take, especially when you can access content for the cost of a beer. Or maybe it’s karma.”

Matthew Deaner – CEO, Screen Producers Association

“For Australian producers, the value of their business is the value of their copyright. Piracy jeopardises business sustainability, placing local jobs at risk. Long-term effects of piracy mean less Australian content gets made. In a tight market, piracy pushes producers to the wall. It’s a simple choice for consumers: support local business or support content thieves. Screen Producers Australia fully supports the ‘Price of Piracy’ campaign.”

Elizabeth Trotman – CEO, StudioCanal Australian & New Zealand

“StudioCanal is an independent distributor. We spend time working with local and international creative teams to develop feature films. The impact of piracy is felt all the way along the chain – from the writers, producers and directors who develop the screenplay and raise finance, the crews and actors who bring it to life and the distributors, like us, and exhibitors, who deliver it to audiences. Piracy compromises potential revenue and makes it harder to fund projects and take risks. The industry will tend to finance project guaranteed to sell – that impacts the ability to tell Australian stories and make quality films, because they are often the risky ones.”

Guy Gross – President Australian Guild of Screen Composers

“Australia has a vibrant original film music community with a large number of composer’s making a living from their original works. The cornerstone of which is the concept of copyright, without which their works would simply not enjoy protection from theft. Furthermore, as part of the wider film making community, composers depend on a financially viable film and TV sector and protection of the end product, the very movies themselves, is essential to their on-going employment.”

Jan Sardi – President, Australian Writers’ Guild/ Screenwriter of The Notebook, Shine, The Secret River

The Price of Piracy consumer campaign is a timely initiative and a reminder to consumers that illegal downloading and streaming of content they have not paid for is stealing, plain and simple. Stealing content has a direct impact on writers and the other key creatives involved by denying them valuable royalties that they would otherwise be entitled to from paying audiences. Piracy also has an indirect impact on our ability to tell our unique stories, with production companies and funding bodies less likely to commission and support new Australian works in future.”

Jason Ballantine – Editor The Great Gatsby, Wolf Creek and IT

“I’m a film editor and I sometimes hear the argument that piracy only affects wealthy ‘Hollywood’ elites. In reality, the thousands of cast and crew who work on films are reliant on a healthy film and television production industry. Piracy not only undercuts the revenue of films and TV shows, it also severely impacts the ability to secure financing for future projects. When fewer films are made, there is less work for ordinary people like me. We want to continue to work on films that bring joy to audiences around the world.”

Lucy Gaffy – Director Doctor Doctor

“Like many of us, there was a time in my life when I often saw film piracy as a victimless crime. But as I now move up through the industry as an emerging filmmaker, I can see and have experienced the very real consequences of this activity. Whether it is a huge international production or a small local indie, it is SO VERY TRUE that every click is compromising our ability to tell our stories and bring our work to the world, as audiences become accustomed to the work itself having no value. That’s not good for anyone.”

Marcus Gillezeau – Producer Firelight Productions

“Not everybody who makes a film is part of a large corporation. I’m an independent filmmaker who spends years developing and creating projects. The assumption that everyone in the film industry is rich is so wide of the mark. Crews are diverse – drivers, florists, the mechanic who runs generator – everyday working-class people. The revenue from my film Storm Surfers 3D was heavily impacted by people downloading and not paying. Often they were fans – that was really disappointing as they know what went in to making that film. It’s affecting not only my wife and I who produced it, but also the dedicated team who spent seven years working with us on it and, in some cases, even risked their lives to make the film surfing giant waves.”

Masa Yamaguchi – Actor and Stuntman

“I’m an actor and a stuntman and have worked on both large international films like Hacksaw Ridge and Wolverine, as well as local productions like The Railway Man. Contrary to the general belief, I’m neither overpaid, nor am I rich. In fact, I have to supplement my freelance acting roles by working as a personal trainer. The residuals I earn from those films are critical to my ability to have a home, feed a family and school my kids. Every single illegal download or stream is lost revenue for me. I wish all those people who profess to love films, but refuse to pay for them, could see the impact that has on my ability to make a reasonable living.”

Peter Tonagh – CEO, Foxtel

“Foxtel supports this campaign because we believe that a combination of education, fast and affordable access to content and effective regulation are essential to protect Australia’s creative industries. The good news is that this approach appears to be working. In 2016 Australia was the number one country for piracy of Game of Thrones. This year following successful site blocking cases and heavy publicity for Foxtel Now, reports suggest that Australia did not make the top ten for piracy of the first episode of season 7. I’m confident most Australians want to do the right thing and this campaign will further encourage them to do so.”

Scott Seddon – President, Independent Cinema Association & cinema owner

“The people who run the pirate sites aren’t doing it as a community service. They do it because it’s profitable. They make millions of dollars from the spam, malware, ransomware and advertising for pornographic sites being marketed to your family. At the same time, they put at risk the jobs of thousands of Australians, especially many for whom cinema is their first workplace experience. Most Australians want to see their local cinema continue to provide a place to escape to see a movie, as well as to see the many thousands of jobs in Australian cinemas continue. You can help by accessing movies legitimately – from TV, subscription services and legal websites – or see it first on the big screen at your local cinema.”