His on-screen persona has been linked to rumours of grisly deaths, but it was DVDs that Roy Billing was feeding into a shredder today.
The Australian film and television star, perhaps best known for playing high-profile crime figure Robert Trimbole in Underbelly, was in Blacktown to help destroy more than a million counterfeit films.
The 1.2 million high quality fakes could have fetched $21 million, but instead their creators are spending time behind bars.
Roy Billing was happy to personally feed some counterfeits into the industrial shredder at Shred-X Secure Destruction. Documents are their bread and butter but the national business has been called upon to dispose of other counterfeits, including Sony video games and Nike shoes.
“These things cost a lot of money to make, these television productions, and the creators need to get their money back and to make a profit so they can go on making more,” Mr Billing said.
“So anybody who buys one of these from a pirate or an illegal source is basically undermining the Australian screen industry.
“These guys are the scourge of our industry.”
Creative Content Australia executive director Lori Flekser said many customers would have been unaware they were buying fakes due to the high quality of the counterfeits.
Mosaic Defredes and Allison Daniel pleaded guilty to producing the pirated copies and selling them as legitimate copies on eBay.
Underbelly, Red Dog, The Sapphires and Winners & Losers were among the popular Australian productions they profited from.
Quakers Hill Police and investigators from the Australian Screen Industry found Mr Defredes had sold more than 65,000 counterfeit DVDs in $1.6 million worth of online sales.
He is currently serving a hefty jail term of four years and six months. Penalties for such crimes under the Commonwealth Copyright Act carry a maximum of five years’ imprisonment and/or a fine of $90,000 per offence.
“Not only is this an important message to the community and the consumers about the fact that this activity is illegal, it’s also a reminder about the enormous impact that this kind of illegal activity can have on creative industries,” Ms Flekser said.
“It takes jobs and investment away from both global and local production. We have a great DVD retail industry here in Australia; it’s a $1 billion industry that employs thousands of people.”
Ms Flekser said online piracy has changed the shape of the industry, with one in five adults and one in four teenagers regularly illegally downloading content. Illegal downloads made up 30 per cent of all downloads in Australia last year.
“People who love content may be loving it to death,” she said.