Major Liberal and Labor donor Village Roadshow has told investors it intends to sue copyright infringers as well as launch another court case later this month to block another 40 piracy websites from people without VPNs.

In the company’s half-year presentation to investors on Friday, Village Roadshow said its successful bid to get several sites blocked late last year had resulted in a “drastic reduction” in piracy in Australia, and now the company would launch a case to block another 40 sites encompassing what Village Roadshow believes to be 90% of the piracy sites visited by Australians. The company says it is aiming for a similar drop in piracy as in Korea, where there was a close to 90% drop in piracy as a result of site-blocking. Korea, however, has much stricter penalties for infringement than Australia.

In Australia, the blocked sites are still accessible to people using virtual private networks.

The company says its campaign to stop piracy includes blocking sites, getting Google to remove them from search results, PR campaigns, making the products available legally, and “suing infringers”.

The shift to suing infringers would be a change for the copyright lobby, which has so far indicated a reluctance to target individual downloaders because threatening grandmothers generates bad press. Infamously in the Dallas Buyers Club case the studio failed to get the details of 4000 alleged pirates because it refused to put up a deposit to the court to get the details. Roadshow has previously threatened to chase individual pirates but has yet to follow through on these threats.

It comes as the company has decided to delay releasing the much-awaited Lego Batman film until well over a month after its release in the United States, in order to be in cinemas in time for the school holidays. — Josh Taylor

Peter Fray

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