John Jarratt feels he’s been robbed and is understandably bitter about it. The Wolf Creek star blames the government for not doing enough to clamp down on the issue of online film piracy, which he believes deprived him of earnings from the recent horror sequel.
Speaking to SBS at the Australian International Movie Convention, Jarratt claimed that illegal downloaders are literally stealing his income.
“Wolf Creek came out and six months later I got a hefty amount of money in residuals. Wolf Creek 2 has done just as well and I’ve got nothing! I’ve had money stolen from me,” said the actor (pictured). “How would you feel if at the end of every week you had your wages downloaded? Well, that’s what's happening to me! The government is sitting back allowing these people to pirate and are turning a blind eye and doing nothing!”
Jarratt also claims the 2011 Aussie thriller Savages Crossing (which he headlined and executive produced) was “pirated out of existence” and that his investors still haven’t received any money from it. “If everyone could download airplane tickets and fly where you wanted the government would soon put a stop to it. Well, they can download my film anytime they want and nobody is doing anything about it!
"The government is sitting back allowing their constituents to be robbed of millions and they’re doing nothing about it. So they’ve got to legislate to have the piracy portals closed down so people will stop pirating and they have to do that through the ISP.
"There’s a cure to piracy cancer and it’s called buy your entertainment! It’s as simple as that. Then we no longer have a problem, then we will have the billion dollar industry back. We’re sitting on a goldmine of soft DVD that you get off the internet and pirates are coming in and taken the gold nuggets out and we’re not allowed in our own goldmine."
“Why is online piracy the only form of theft on the planet that happens to be okay?”
The actor isn’t the only industry talent fired up over screen piracy. Filmmaker Jeremy Sims, who directed the AFI-winning war drama Beneath Hill 60, says his film is still being pirated at an alarming rate four years following its original release.
“It’s difficult because nobody sees piracy as a real crime and the problem is that people don’t see intellectual property as the same as physical property. But I can tell you for certain the film industry is feeling it,” he told SBS.
“For smaller films in Australia it’s a massive problem because nearly every time an Australian film gets released piracy is probably the difference between them getting their money back or not. Getting your money back or not is the difference between making another film, so you can imagine how many projects that trickles down to in the end: it’s hundreds of films that probably don’t get made that would otherwise.”
Lori Flekser, executive director of the IP Awareness Foundation, which works to raise awareness on the importance of copyright and the impact of piracy, says according to recent research, most downloaders aren’t aware of the damage they’re causing. “They feel it’s a victimless crime and the only people that are affected are very wealthy Hollywood studios or stars," she says. "But it’s not a victimless crime: ordinary people are affected by it and even the smallest amount of activity does have an impact.”
New findings from the IP Awareness Foundation reveal illegal downloading is significantly increasing in Australia. Flekser believes independent cinema has the most to lose due to studios becoming more risk averse. “I think the smaller films will really struggle to get their heads above the water and get noticed. They're being pushed out of the marketplace.”
Flekser also agrees there's a need for legislation, and that according to the new research, one of the key reasons why people are pirating is because nobody is stopping them. "The pirates believe if it was illegal the police, government or the industry would stop them so it legitimises their behaviour."
“Why is online piracy the only form of theft on the planet that happens to be okay?” says John Jarratt. “What’s okay about stealing money from cast and crews? Most of us are going out the back door because people who are fans are killing the goose that’s laying the golden egg by downloading our films. I’m calling it piracy cancer: it’s fatal and it’s killing the Australian film industry.”