Anti-piracy advocate Roadshow beefs up political donations

Village Roadshow, a vocal advocate for the Australian government's proposed crackdown on copyright infringement, has donated large sums of money to both the Liberal and Labor parties in the last financial year.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

Village Roadshow, the company most vocally backing the Australian government's crackdown on online copyright infringement, beefed up its donations to the Liberal and Labor parties in the last financial year.

According to party disclosures released by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) on Monday, Village Roadshow donated AU$227,500 to the Labor Party and AU$329,919 to the Liberal Party in the 2013-14 financial year.

This financial year includes the run up to the 2013 federal election held in September 2013.

The organisation's donations increased on the previous year, where the company donated AU$22,000 to Labor, and AU$315,004 to the Liberal Party.

It comes as Village Roadshow co-CEO Graham Burke has been pushing for the government to stop Australians from downloading infringing TV shows and films using file-sharing services.

"We make AU$2.6 billion worth of films in Australia. If the piracy thing is not nailed, it's over, mate. O-V-E-R," Burke told ZDNet last year.

Attorney-General George Brandis and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull last year announced that the government would legislate in 2015 to allow rights holders such as Village Roadshow to get a court order to force ISPs to block infringing websites such as The Pirate Bay.

A deadline also looms in April for ISPs and rights holders to develop a system to warn customers against infringing or face having their details handed over to rights holders to be taken to court. If the ISPs cannot agree to a voluntary system, Turnbull and Brandis have said that the government will legislate a mandatory crackdown on copyright infringement.

Village Roadshow has now donated close to 4.5 million to Australian political parties since 1998.

The AEC disclosures also reveal that Optus returned to making donations after a year with no donations. The SingTel-owned company donated AU$27,500 to Labor and AU$27,825 to the Liberal Party.

Telstra did not appear to make any donations.

Vocus donated AU$44,000 to the Liberal party, while Macquarie Telecom donated $48,500 to Labor, $49,500 to the Liberals, and AU$35,000 to the Greens in Western Australia.

TechnologyOne pushed most of its donations to the Liberal Party, with AU$31,225 donated to the party, while only donating AU$1,000 to the Labor Party.

National Broadband Network (NBN) contractor Leighton Holdings donated AU$10,700 to the Labor party and AU$3,000 to the Liberals.

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu donated AU$76,554 to Labor and AU$38,950 to the Liberal party.

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