Hollywood rails against movie piracy in Oz

29 October, 2013 by Don Groves

The US studios have named Australia among the world’s “most notorious marketplaces for the distribution of illegal film and television shows.”

The Motion Picture Association of America has accused Australian authorities of showing “no interest” in enforcing copyright laws at one market in Victoria where piracy is allegedly prevalent.


Other countries on the list include the Ukraine, Canada, China, Indonesia, Ireland, Brazil, Russia, Thailand, Mexico and India.

In a submission to the US Trade Representative, the MPAA cited the Caribbean Gardens and Markets in Scoresby, Victoria, as a piracy black spot.

“There are between 10-20 individual market sellers offering counterfeit Region 1 & 2 DVDs, together with other sellers offering burnt DVDs of recently released titles,” the MPAA said.

“The total number of sellers, while substantially reduced from mid-2000s, has increased recently due to a lack of enforcement. State and federal police have shown no interest in enforcing the issue despite multiple entreaties from right holders.”

A suburban paper in Victoria, the Knox Leader, earlier this month described the Caribbean Market as a “mecca for illegal goods including 'chop chop' tobacco, pirated DVDs and counterfeit designer sunglasses and handbags.”

The paper said “enforcement does not appear to be a high priority for authorities who say they know illegal goods are being openly traded at markets across Melbourne.”

It quoted a Knox senior sergeant as saying the police worked in partnership with the Australian Federal Police when it came to piracy and illegal tobacco enforcement but “we don’t take the principal role." An AFP officer suggested the matter be reported to the Australian Taxation Office for follow up.

The US Trade Representative asked the US public to submit the names of countries that it should consider including in its list of “notorious markets” to penalise for failing to crack down on piracy.

The MPAA’s targets included peer-to-peer networks and torrent portals including Thepiratebay.sx in Sweden, Kickass.to in Canada and Xunlei.com in China; download and streaming hubs like Vkontakte and RapidGator.net in Russia and Uploaded.net in the Netherlands.

The MPAA’s action elicited a response from Neil Gane, regional director Australasia for the Australian Screen Association (formerly the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft).

"The ASA is fully supportive of the MPAA's recommendation to the USTR to include Melbourne's Caribbean Gardens on the USTR's list of 'notorious physical markets,' " Gane tells IF. 

“Legitimate businesses like cinemas and corner DVD stores should be allowed to operate on a level playing field without having to compete with pirated DVDs being unashamedly sold in broad daylight in markets such as the Caribbean Market. The closure of these types of high-profit rackets would go a long way to providing a level playing field for businesses within the community who operate by the rules.”

Gane disputed Melbourne media reports that quoted a representative of the Caribbean Gardens Market as saying the MPAA report is "outdated" and "everything sold by the stallholders now was the real McCoy."

He told IF that ASA investigators visited the venue on October 6 and took photos of market traders selling pirated DVDs for $5 per disc, including  films that were still screening at cinemas.

On Wednesday morning radio station 3AW sent a reporter to the markets and saw traders selling DVDs of current films.