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What’s the issue with Piracy in Australia?

Blog-Be-in-the-Know-Fighting-for-our-Customers

Another news cycle, and yet again we see the recycled claims suggesting Australia is the worst nation in the world for Internet piracy. This may not actually be the case, but there can be no debate that work still remains to be done to effectively combat piracy.

The Australian Government is readying legislation, if news reports are to be believed, which would require ISPs such as iiNet to send infringement notices to our customers while, at the same time, blocking certain websites which provide access for customers to download and share unauthorised content.

We believe the Government is heading down the wrong path if they’re serious about protecting copyright.

Combating piracy

Just in case there is some confusion – let us state, once and for all, that we do not condone piracy in any way, shape or form.

Online piracy, apart from being a breach of copyright, affects the income of the artists and violates numerous trade agreements. Musicians, authors, film makers or game creators might be hesitant to create new content if they know that the end product will simply be stolen. How would the public feel if producers like HBO decided not to finish George R.R Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice series due to the actions of those who simply downloaded his compelling series instead of paying for it? The outcry would be deafening – I would certainly be upset.

So, what do copyright holders want?

After the dust from the iiTrial settled, I predicted on this blog that rights holders would make “repeated calls for legislative change over time… not taking into account consumer demands”. Nearly two years have passed and my comments seem to be on the mark.

The Hollywood Studios have been relentlessly lobbying the Australian Government on a range of heavy-handed solutions, from a ‘three strikes’ proposal, through to website filtering – none of which take consumers’ interests into account (Choice has a handy rundown).

Let’s take a look at their proposals:

1) ISPs issue infringement notices to customers, with Internet connections terminated upon a third strike: This ‘graduated response’ has been tried in countries including the US, France, New Zealand, Taiwan, South Korea and the UK and delivering an ominous lack of evidence that this response does anything to curtail piracy or lead to increased sales.

This leaves us asking why Hollywood might think this approach would work in Australia when it doesn’t even work in their own patch.

Another aspect worth noting is that the studios wont pay for this scheme, instead they expect ISPs to pay for the infringement notice process, resulting in increased charges for our customers, even those who subscribe to legal sources of content.

2) The Federal Government needs to block access to torrent sites: I ask myself several questions – “Why would the Australian government let a foreign company dictate which websites our citizens can access?” “Are our legislators captured by foreign interests?” “Do those foreign interest provide irrefutable evidence of their claims?” “Should we allow American commercial interest to dictate Australian national policy?”

Let’s throw some other countries into the mix here: China, North Korea, Cuba – countries that all block local access to certain sites. Furthermore, blocking websites will never be 100 per cent effective. Users will always find an alternative. When Napster was shut down, users simply switched to any one of the copycat software programs that were available at the time.

3) ISPs profit from piracy and therefore won’t endorse these measures: This is wrong. It demonstrates an ignorance of the way in which Australian ISPs generate revenue. In fact, the more our customers download data, the less money we make. On average, our customers use approximately 20 per cent of their monthly download quota. Customers who torrent new release movies or TV shows use closer to 100% of their limit and the inescapable fact remains that the more quota our customers use, the more it costs us to share that data. Content providers love to portray ISPs as the beneficiaries of piracy, but it’s a dishonest image that they portray.

Of course, piracy also attacks products that we offer – including the latest release movie and television content available by subscription on iiNet TV with Fetch. It’s just nonsense.

4) “It’s impossible to compete with free”: It’s naïve to suggest that by changing the model by which content is delivered to customers, piracy would end and mountains of cash would flow into the coffers of all those concerned. We don’t agree, however, that this means that these options should be taken off the table. It is an acknowledged fact that the American market has seen a reduction in file sharing at the same time that content has been become available. The pattern of US traffic Internet now depends on what content is made available via legitimate distribution channels like Netflix, rather than on the Pirate Bay. Consumers have had decades using a mature distribution model, and it’s silly to judge the success or failure of streaming services such as Spotify after only a single year of use in Australia. Giving your competitor a ten-year head start distributing a ‘free’ alternative is pretty stupid.  No wonder the content industry is uncompetitive, with that attitude.

Copyright holders have shown us that they’re not interested in new models for Australians, despite the success of services such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu in the USA (and other markets, including a large number of Australians bypassing these restrictions using VPN).

Put simply, Australians want their content at the same time as the rest of the world. It isn’t that our customers don’t want to pay for content, it’s that they want to be able to access content at the same time as their Facebook friends or Twitter followers. They want to be able to participate in the global conversation, to talk about their favourite film, or the season finale of The Walking Dead, immediately and without having to pay through the nose to access it.

When Foxtel announced its exclusive deal with HBO to air Game of Thrones (or GoT) in Australia, the outrage was immediate. Whereas lovers of GoT previously could buy the whole season on iTunes for $24, they are now being forced to be a Foxtel subscriber to view the show, paying at least $44.95 per month for the privilege. It’s no surprise they begrudge being extorted.

What does iiNet want?

We think that content should be made available to Australians at a fair price and at the same time as it is available elsewhere. The Lego Movie for example, was released two months after it opened to rave reviews in the USA. Village Roadshow (The Lego Movie’s local distributors) even came out a month before its local release and complained of piracy, while probably not even looking at why it was being pirated.

And that’s the fundamental difference between iiNet and the rights holders. They want to tackle how customers are pirating content. We want them to look at why, and then move forward, addressing the cause, not the symptom.

What do our customers want?

Obviously they want the content. The demand is clearly there, but they don’t want be treated like mugs. It’s pretty clear that consumers don’t want to be hampered by delays or excess charges any more. They want access to content immediately, and are willing to pay for it.

We’ve seen thousands upon thousands of Australians sign up to Spotify to satisfy their music streaming needs, with a decent chunk of those thousands signing up to Spotify’s premium service. Spotify isn’t the only music streaming service available to Australians, either. There are over 20 competing services which are all fighting for the ears of Australians.

What can you do about it?

Make your voice known. Write to those who are positions of power and let them know what you think. You can start by contacting Attorney-General George Brandis and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull. You can also send your thoughts to politicians engaged in the issue such as Shadow Communications Minister Jason Clare and Greens Senator Scott Ludlam.

In your correspondence – point to 2013’s Parliamentary IT Pricing Review – and ask the government to tackle the known issues such as higher prices and lengthy delays for Australians, and if you’re looking at the best ways to make sure your letter or email is read – look here!

Where to next?

We’re still holding out hope that the Australian Government, the Hollywood Studios and other rights holders will deliver a positive solution to the ongoing issue of piracy. Until that time, we’ll continue to push for a better future for Australian content users, one removed from the constraints being discussed in Canberra.

83 comments

  1. J Gilbey says:

    I think the issue is that consumers do want what is not available in regards to movie releases and the release schedule.

    Movies do have a release schedule and they are copyrighted by law,with some rollout protection to ensure movie theatres are maintaining profitability,which is feasible
    and good business sense.

    I think if consumers wish to view movies and not visit the pictures theatres they should be able to view the movie,albeit at a premium that ensures the movie maker profitability from their efforts,i.e the online purchase or streaming of the latest movie would cost more than the theatre price.

    I agree with piracy laws fully,but their is opportunity to distribute the premium /latest
    content to the consumers in AU and worldwide at a profitable rate -Opportunity to cut a deal in this regard,this isnt been done ,dont know if it has been attempted ?.

    What i disagree with is that the government should use /abuse the piracy laws to further their data mining of the public,leaning further towards totalitarianism,and we the consumer has to ensure those we have employed to run this country do it democratically and with the best interests of the public in mind ,not the ideals of the politician which are often misconstrued or lead by power brokers,in whom “other” interests are dominant.

    Freedom has to be maintained ,and the technology to secure the copyright ( human and electronic) and efforts of a manufacturer ( electronic and hardware) has to be maintained via the internet and in hardware distribution,not punish the public for the true cause of piracy ( as you have echoed above).

    the true causes are primarily the cant get yet no matter what,or cant have yet ” mentality of distributors,this has to change ,and the government should stay out of this completely ,this is a business steam collaborative effort ,i.e movie /software maker , stream distribution ,and the content providers on the internet or other areas.

    Cheers Guys .

    [Reply]

    Steve Dalby Reply:

    @J Gilbey, Please excuse Louis’ language, but it serves to illustrate that creators are also not happy with geo-blocking.

    Listen to him explain here -
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d458sm5ToWk

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    Frank the plank Reply:

    Just remember, when the VHS Player was first released Hollywood complained that it was also going to steal all their revenue, now they are some of the most profitable businesses in the world. On another note, Hollywood was built on piracy, quite literally, it is situated where it is as back in the day it was just far enough out of the way to avoid having to pay royalties to Thomas Edison who owned the patents.

    [Reply]

    Peter Reply:

    Whats the point of iinet and other servers offering 125 gb or unlimited if you cant download anything.Everybody will drop back to 5gb for email and the money they save rent a dvd

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    simon chambers Reply:

    @J Gilbey,
    I object to the difference in price we pay in australia.
    Even microsoft charge more on their australian website then their US one for software.
    I can understand $7.00 to hire a DVD from a shop with huge overheads etc, but paying that for a movie online is a ripoff even $5 is a bit much.
    I have no choice but too (legaly) download movies as local video shop closed
    I buy movies I like on BLURAY just because the quality of downloaded movies is like VHS all pixalated, dark scienes look bad

    [Reply]

    J Reply:

    @simon chambers,

    If wewant to watch the latest movie inline with the US or other countries ( although it hasnt hit the shores -(picture theatre) or TV show release ,we should be able to

    I think the logistics needs to be revisited to give the consumer what they really want ,and if done correctly they might make more money ,ie proviision and reduce the need to police?.

    I think fetchtv has movies for less than $7,with the $7 movie normally in a dvd shop being able to be rented for $3-4 from what i have seen.

    GEO blocking or circumventing only provides 2 weeks in advance of legal release -approximation.

    Like spoilt children we are today not willing to wait for anything,unfortunately.

    I agree with your comment on pricing of software and releases ,if the statistics are correct and AU is per capita one of the highest consumers we should experience a much better deal on pricing.

    So if we spend $40M + lose revenue of $30M /year because we didnt secure the product or provide it ,who is not doing business properly ? ,i would say the content distributors are stuck in the eighties.

    #$

    [Reply]

    Andrew Reply:

    @J Gilbey, What I like to see is Netflix added to Fetch or via other means. Then we would have access to TV shows now and the past and would not need to download content that we are not able to view like GoT via Foxnut.

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  2. Moses David says:

    Support you 100% and have written to Brandis et al.

    It’s funny I thought this was an Australian government for Australians. Suppose I was wrong.

    [Reply]

    Kronomex Reply:

    @Moses David, This current government is all about big business, the corporations, and Rupert Murdoch (in particular) pure and simple. Anything else, like actually “caring” about the ordinary person, is all smoke and mirrors. Will the Labor Party repeal any new media laws if and when they get in again? No because Murdoch has too much power and they’re afraid of what he can do.

    [Reply]

    Mark Paynetr Reply:

    Yes, we should make our own laws, and tell the USA to mind it’s own business. We need to be our own country and not bend to every whim or whittle of our overlords

    [Reply]

  3. Kevin Saenz says:

    This government is bought by big money.

    [Reply]

    Paul Haskett Reply:

    Sorry to say but all governments are bought by
    big money.

    [Reply]

  4. James says:

    Based (entirely) on this blog post, iiNet seem to have the right idea when it comes to the issue of piracy.

    I don’t believe that there is ever a legitimate reason for piracy, but the heavy handed approach of simply blocking certain websites isn’t a real solution. It’s like fixing a leak in your ceiling by putting a bucket underneath it, sure it’s catching the water, but doesn’t address the issue of why it’s happening.

    When the games-based Steam platform first came around, I remember reading a quote along the lines of “…we need to offer a better service than pirates…”, and while I haven’t bothered looking up revenue figures, I’m pretty sure it’s flourishing.

    Surely movie studios stand to gain more by finding ways to provide that “better than pirates” service than they do by trying to change the law. There’s clearly a demand for their content, I just can’t understand why they aren’t making an effort to supply it in a way that caters to our current technological age where people are always ‘connected’ and simply expect constant and immediate access to everything.

    [Reply]

    Steve Dalby Reply:

    @James, I love that analogy (of the bucket). Do you mind if I use it ?

    Steam (Valve networks) are a great example of a content producer listening to their customers and profiting by serving the market, using digital distribution.

    In the US, piracy is on the decline. Why? Because access.

    [Reply]

    Justin Reply:

    I completely agree with you. Way too often we are forced in to dealing with hassles related to DRM and other nuisances such as trailers berfore the menu on DVDs and the need to install unnecessary software (such as Ubisoft’s uPlay).

    Pirated content may not be ethical or legal, but it is often quicker and easier to get because it’s everywhere, and the removal of such annoyances can create a much better experience. Large content producers for music, movies, TV and games don’t seem to realise that it isn’t the cost that keeps the sales down, it’s the fact that the pirated version of the product is superior.

    Steam is an example of a great distribution platform. It offers useful features for the consumer, such as chat and game management features, and it provides DRM to make the publishers happy that doesn’t interfere with those who purchase the content because of simple features such as the offline mode and the account system.
    Steam doesn’t try to force anything down your throat; everything that needs to work just works.

    If the Hollywood studios could make their own version of Steam, allowing us to be more mobile with content linked to it and offering less hassle, just logging in and hitting download, I think they would greatly reduce piracy while making life a lot better for us consumers.

    [Reply]

    DethLok Reply:

    They don’t NEED to make their own version of Steam, they could use Steam itself, it does movies.

    [Reply]

  5. Lurch says:

    Steve,
    I can’t overstate how much I agree with your statements.
    It’s not a question of HOW but of WHY. And the simple fact is with such a connected world that when GoT hits the screens in the states, we want it here too. And if consumers can’t get it through legal ways, they’ll find not-so-legal ways. Be it through torrenting or by bending access rules to Netflix etc.
    iTunes set the standard when it came to music distribution. Companies like Spotify have then taken that a set further.
    iTunes goes some way to make video content available, however its no more up to date than JBHifi. And the pricing is questionable.
    What the world wants and demands is (essentially) a worldwide Netflix, but with the latest content available on a worldwide release date. Not this rubbish of scheduling releases over the matter of months or years depending on region, thats clearly designed to protect the interests of local distributors and/or out-dated TV stations.
    Or the complete rort that is Foxtel. (Which is based on the out-dated US-style cable television model, which is its own death-throws as it is).
    Consumers want it released worldwide.
    They want it on-demand
    And they want it at a *reasonable* price.
    I would happily pay $20-$30 a month for a reliable service that gives the latest content (and the old classics too), on demand.

    People no longer consume their content on the TV stations schedule, they do it on their own schedule.

    [Reply]

    Steve Dalby Reply:

    @Lurch, The irony of it all – the studios spend $billions promoting their content, create massive demand, then restrict access to it, like it was a scarce resource.

    It’s market failure that drives unauthorised sharing, nothing else.

    [Reply]

    jeff Reply:

    @Lurch, I totally agree with Lurch, I have had foxtel for years and have see it go from nil adverts to just as many adverts as free to air TV. The movies are repeated approx every three months as as I work long hours I look for new content. So I channel surf from free to air to foxtel to recorded foxtel to netflix to utorrents. Some of the utorrents are of movies or shows on free to air or foxtel which I missed due to working so I am playing catchup with a series not to distribute or pirate.
    We constantly say why do we have foxtel as its content is getting old and repeated too much so are heading more back to free to air or netflix.

    [Reply]

  6. Dave F says:

    Personal example :: I jumped on Spotify with a premium subscription the week it became available in Australia, and went from downloading or ripping a dozen albums a week to zero in less than a month. The model just works. No problem at all paying for content, as long as I can have it where I want, when I want, ad-free.
    As a content producer as well, I can understand some of content owners’ arguments. But the fact that Australia is “the worst nation in the world for piracy” (whether or not it’s true) means that we’re keen content consumers — fans waiting to be engaged and serviced, rather than cut out of the loop by copyright owners.
    I’d always hold that for most people, those who can, buy, and those who can’t, pirate. So we should be making it MUCH easier for people to buy, not harder.

    [Reply]

    blacky Reply:

    using Game of Thrones as an example I would like to be able to pay for it, but just it. I dont want to have to pay Foxtel for a basic package and then a premium pack just to pick up that one episode. If an episode or season, of anything, could be downloaded for a reasonable price I would be signed up in a flash. My additional question would be what is a reasonable price? $5 a season would suit me but maybe this is too cheap

    [Reply]

  7. Fred says:

    Brandis is a puppet of Rupert Murdoch – see his attempt to change the defamation law to favour the only person affected – the noxious Adrian(?) Bolt.

    I owe the septic tank Murdoch and his monopolistic, price gouging foreign mates NOTHING

    If they want to introduce a variant of the failed 3 strikes policy – let them pay for it to prove their bona fides

    The Abbott government continues to demonstrate that they are the tools of the 1%
    – see you later “1 Term Tony”

    [Reply]

  8. Kim says:

    One of the reasons I stick with iinet is the stand iinet has taken in Court on this issue. It should be a no-brainer that ISP’s are not qualified nor in the business of censorship. I’d go further and point out that while technological developments favoured profiteering by ‘Hollywood’, record companies and the like … they took the profits and ran. Was I the only one to trash vinyl and audio tapes for music cd’s? To trash videos for dvd’s? And to dispose of the ‘outdated’ players and invest in the dvd player and associated system. Ah but now we have the internet, a more ‘democratic’ platform for disseminating information of all kinds, and suddenly the copyright holders/big corporations have a BIG problem with technological development. I struggle to sympathize with their grim determination to prevail when in truth it’s suddenly convenient and more profitable for them – or so they think – to be dinosaurs in respect of this issue.

    GoT is a great example of how the market works these days. Speaking for myself, yes I’ve downloaded it. I’ve also purchased the DVD’s and given them as presents to people who wouldn’t otherwise watch it. I’ve also purchased the full set so far of the books on which the series is based. I have also seen the series in a relatively poor quality format, though fully intend to BUY the full series when it’s finished so that I can watch it again at my convenience and in high quality in the future. The model of ‘piracy’ put forward by the likes of Brandis is totally inaccurate.

    [Reply]

    Steve Dalby Reply:

    @Kim, Thanks for your support.

    Yes the economy works different on the internet. The rules have changed. Your personal example of multiple purchases as well as file sharing is a very common one.

    The creators get this. It’s the middle-men that are squealing.

    As Louis CK points out, if Aussies hadn’t shared his content (it’s not available for sale here) he might not have sold a single ticket to his Australian shows. Nobody would have known who he was. As it turned out, he’s very popular and had a successful Aussie tour.

    [Reply]

    Frank the plank Reply:

    @Kim, would anyone buy a book that had the last chapter torn out ? I bet no one would. Then why are we expected to pay for a TV series when in most cases they get dropped at the end of the season with no wrap up on the story ? I do buy what I have downloaded, but only when the story has been completed

    [Reply]

    William Reply:

    @Kim,
    I agree with Kim and am the same
    I download to watch now and do buy the disks but in most cases Blu-ray when available
    I love a lot of these shows GOT, True Blood and the list goes on. And you can see the shows on my shelf. I have over 3000 shows & movies. And like Kim I have the full collection of GOT books and all content and that list goes on. They do make their profit from me well and truly.
    ISP providers are just that not the law watching download content on behalf of others to help boost their coffers.
    I certainly will look for ways to circumvent and blockage to the content I want when I want it.
    Long live freedom

    [Reply]

  9. Shumbies says:

    It doesn’t matter how much legislation is in place. People will circumvent any form of blocking put in place.
    It is naïve to think that legislation will prevent illegal downloads.
    The people who own the copyright need to move with technology and change their outdated business model to one that is best suited for both them and their customers.

    [Reply]

  10. @Moses David, haha yeah right, Tony Abbott is in New York ringing the wall street stock exchange bell stating Australia is open for business. ie. come buy Australian public assets dirt cheap!

    Now back on topic, hopefully the Netflix move into the Australian market is real, this could lead the way to more media freedom as Mr Murdochs monopoly crumbles.

    [Reply]

    Steve Dalby Reply:

    @Alex Moorhouse, Unfortunately the misreporting of Netflix opening in Austria as ‘Netflix opening in Australia’ is sad but true.
    They’re not expected here, anytime soon.

    [Reply]

  11. Lloyd says:

    I 100% agree with this. People are willing to pay for content if they are treated correctly…

    Look at what Valve’s steam system has done to games, I know more people are buying games on steam then downloading them off pirate bay. The reason for this is good pricing, good service and you get all of the titles at the same time as everyone else.

    TV Stations, Foxtel and to a degree iTunes offer outdated models that consumers don’t want, consumers are now wanting TV shows, Movies, etc to be available at anytime and most importantly for it to be released at the same time as everyone else.

    It would be great if the industry actually dealt with the problem and stopped the whole ‘blame the pirates’ thing.

    [Reply]

    will Reply:

    @Lloyd,

    I’d just like to say thank you to iinet for actually caring. Your attitude had kept me a subscriber for over 10 years. (Only 10 on this particular account)

    I’ve bought many games on steam that I’ve never even played. I’ve got hundreds of them. Valve knows how to sell, those steam sales at Christmas are the death wallets.

    Not only am I willing to spend money on this because it’s good value but I’m also likely buy multipacks (buy 4 for a discount) and share with my mates. They’ve somehow got me purchasing more than I’ll need and games i probably will never play…

    They’ve got the timing right, they know what prices actually sell, use social to help sell more and it’s just far too easy to purchase and aquire when we want it. It’s quite literally easier and hassle than piracy.

    I’ll never subscribe to a tv service that required bundles of bull$#!+ to watch one bloody show. The hilarity of paying for a service and then having to endure adverts to do so is beyond my understanding.

    Thanks but no thanks.

    I’ll end this post with a quote from an ars article highlighting how much steam oversells…

    “Right now, I can tell you that about 37 percent of the roughly 781 million games registered to various Steam accounts haven’t even been loaded a single time.”

    http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2014/04/introducing-steam-gauge-ars-reveals-steams-most-popular-games/

    [Reply]

  12. insano says:

    THE TRUTH IS. USA STEELS ,FROM IT OWN PEOPLE EVERY DAY. GAS AT A .GASTAION. THAY SEAL SOFTWARE ,FROM OTHER ,COUNTRYS AND GET AWAY WITH IT. THEY HAVE STOLED ,ALL KINDS OF CAR MOTOR PATAINTS.
    WHO IS THE THEIF,,,

    [Reply]

  13. Chris says:

    Agreed and backing you 100%, Australia really needs to get some people in the know making some decisions about piracy. Having 60 year old bitties that have no idea about these things, it only makes us go backwards.

    [Reply]

    Steve Dalby Reply:

    @Chris, Damn those 60 year olds !
    :-)

    [Reply]

    Ian Reply:

    @Steve Dalby, I am 66 and can pirate anything I want just the same as any youngster. I prefer the legit approach when it is available, which is your point. Just because I am mature does not mean I am in league with other 60+ year olds who are motivated by power. Please do not tar everyone with the same brush just because of age. There is enough demonization of the pensioner happening as it is. We are not all grumpy old spoil sports!
    I can only assume that iinet do not make enough profit to form their own streaming business “iistream”

    [Reply]

    Neil Reply:

    @Ian,

    I can only assume that iinet do not make enough profit to form their own streaming business “iistream”

    I had Ausstar for a while and had a mild dig at them when they asked why I was leaving. Based on their reply, I’m guessing the problem comes down to the contracts that the existing media producers sign with the content providers (tv stations, movie cinemas, etc).

    Generally the contracts dictate the terms by which a show can be aired, how often, etc, and usually has some form of regional exclusivity clause involved. So while I’d love for someone like iiNet to offer me content in a way that I’d love to receive it, and at a reasonable price, I think the contracts with Foxtel and others would prevent such a deal from going ahead. It’s Foxtel et al that are stifling progress out of fear of becoming another blockbuster.

    One thing that seems constantly overlooked in this whole debate: We are not the customers (according to the producers). The distributors are the customer. Its wrong but its fact. That we, the distributors’ customers are dissatisfied with the packaging that the distributors offer and generally abhor how the distributors operate doesn’t factor to the producers. The best thing we can do is leave the likes of Foxtel and Ausstar and tell them why. It’s not because their offerings can be found free elsewhere. Its because their offerings are rubbish. Overpriced, ad ridden, available only at certain times and grouped into channels which allow them to package up crap you don’t want with the one show you do, and thus milk you for ever more money.

    You want to shake off piracy? Simple. Petition your representative to forbid anti-competitive regional exclusivity in aired media contracts. Encourage competition and everyone wins.

    [Reply]

  14. feenicks says:

    Also folks, if looking for ways to help, aside from supporting decent ISP’s with your business, you can also sign this petition here:
    https://www.change.org/en-AU/petitions/stop-blaming-consumers-for-the-outdated-business-models-of-the-media-industry

    Keep in mind that it is a valid petition for formal submission to the Senate and that Senator Ludlam has already agreed to present it.
    So while petitions are often just a feel good, relatively useless gesture, this one at least will do that smidge more good than most.

    The petition was created by Pirate Party Australia and if you want to help even further, perhaps have a serious think about supporting the party, http://pirateparty.org.au/ (either to join, donate, or get involved)

    The Pirate Party Policy Platform is available here: http://pirateparty.org.au/wiki/Platform and I think that many people, once you have a genuine look at the party, will see that it is actually a pretty good alternative.

    [Reply]

  15. Shane says:

    Point 4 onwards is something I’ve been trying to explain to those with little understanding and follow the old “Piracy bad” routine. Services like MOG, Spotify e.t.c are all immensely popular because they provide exactly what we want: affordable, accessible and flexible access to content.

    As long as restrictive publishing and availibility exists in Australia, we will continue to be the highest “piracy” offenders. You can’t compete with free, but you can make your product damn attractive for the right price…

    [Reply]

  16. Jermberp says:

    Though no one will really admit to watching WWE, the WWE network is a great example of this. After years of torrenting episodes to watch at a reasonable hour (instead of 3:30 on a Thursday afternoon on Fox8), the WWE network offered a great alternative – all episodes and content offered digitally for one low fee of $9.95 a month. Every pay per view, every episode of running shows – 24/7 content. Incredible! I couldn’t get my credit card out of my wallet fast enough – only to realise when trying to sign up ‘this service is not available in Australia’. Really? And then you wonder why I torrent them?

    [Reply]

  17. Camm says:

    I agree in that its all about distribution models – and there are currently none in Australia (which you can legally access).

    I am interested in Fetch to a lesser extent (subscription on-demand is a more appealing to me than streaming) – but am put off by ‘another bloody box (especially at $300). Is there any plans to offer Fetch on Xbox\PS\PC (XBMC plugin? :D ) as I feel at the price point fetch is, without the box crap, it would be much more enticing (I know I would sign up).

    [Reply]

    MJW Reply:

    I agree. I have one of the latest Smart TVs capable of surfing the net, youtube, and running apps like spotify, surely it could run Fetch – Without another box to sit next to the consoles, DVD, PVR, and WiFi network.

    [Reply]

  18. TJ says:

    As a musician let me beg everyone reading this right now: Please do not use Spotify!!!! Spotify – whilst popular – is honestly no better than piracy to us as it only pays us fractions of a cent per thousand plays. Please, go buy a song on iTunes or Amazon where we get at least 50c and then listen to it as much as you like. Put it in your party playlist or on a driving cd and play it to your friends. Hell, feel free to copy it and give it to a buddy, but please bring them to our next show in your area if you’re gonna do that though, ok?

    These streaming services such as Spotify really hurt our income streams – look up Laura Imbuglia’s facebook rant to see just how much. Hell, even Youtube pays a musician that has monetized their videos more than Spotify does!

    As legendary guitarist and independant musician Jon Gomm said recently: “We’re cool with you sharing our music as long as you do it responsibly. You want to burn my cd for your friends? That’s cool, they probably weren’t gonna buy it anyway, but if they like it they’ll probably come to a gig and buy a shirt. That’s sharing responsibly. Putting my cd up on a torrent site? That’s sharing irresponsibly.”

    [Reply]

    DethLok Reply:

    So… why do you allow Spotify to distribute your music if it pays you so little?

    [Reply]

  19. Ken says:

    Looks at http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2014/05/spotify-australia-boss-music-piracy/ showing the success of Spotify Subscription in Australia

    I am a happy paying Spotify Subscriber and I could easily download the music for free illegally.

    Point is, if you make the content available promptly (not 3 months after it is released every where in the world even in Russia… Lego Movie anyone?) and at a fair price people will pay.

    [Reply]

  20. Tim says:

    I pay for Spotify Premium, I love the sh*t out of it. I pay to go to the cinema to see movies I want to see.
    and I’d be more than happy to pay for content like movies and TV, if it was from a legitimate source online, and was available as fast as it is on torrent sites.

    I don’t care what the cost is (within reason)..I just need to be able to watch it at the same time the rest of the world…as you said.

    Also, censoring is stupid and won’t work..people will get around it.

    Great blog!

    [Reply]

    terenjac Reply:

    @Tim, Many of the people who have posted on this blog say that they watch movies at a theater. That’s great if you live in a city – I don’t. I live in a rural area where there are no movie theaters. I would have to drive for hours to a city, watch a movie then drive for hours to return home. That’s not an option for me.

    So, what about paying to download movies? That is also not an option as I am on a pension and cannot afford that.

    What about NetFlix ? Again, not an option. Apart from cost, I have an NBN connection and Iinet advise that I cannot access NetFlix on my NBN connection.

    What am I to do ?

    [Reply]

  21. John Jones says:

    well put and I’m voting with my dollar :

    iinet will be my ISP / business and I’m never giving a cent to any supporter of these stupid policy’s

    John Jones

    [Reply]

  22. Greg says:

    I’d love to see iiNet bring to Australians a streaming service to rival Netflix and I’d happily pay you for the service.
    I’m sure it wouldn’t be easy, but things worth doing rarely are.

    [Reply]

  23. Andy long says:

    If only the Australian consumer was treated remotely fairly. Instead we are treated as a cash pig that no one has quite worked out how to squeeze.

    If only we were given due respect as consumers. The Lego Movie point is a clear indication of the contempt that the distributors of this media actually hold their customer base. How can you complain about piracy when you hold people to ransom like that?

    If only we had a legitimate pay for use streamer available such as Netflix. Or any other form of media streaming where we were not railroaded into paying for a foxtel subscription.

    Australia is such a pathetic, immature market when it comes to streaming services. I would happily pay for an on demand service.

    [Reply]

    Sue Reply:

    @Andy long,
    I totally agree. GOT is a prime example, HBO and Foxtel tied this up so much that ITunes are not even selling the individual episodes. Why shouldn’t we as Australians be entitled to TV series at the same time that they are released, and come on give us a reasonable cost to access them. Not every one can afford Foxtel and who wants to watch 24/7 to make the cost of joining worthwhile. Allow Australians to pay and join company’s like Netflix, HBO and others without using devious methods.

    [Reply]

  24. Matt B says:

    Unfortunately the Why is also the How.
    The predominant reason people pirate is because it’s easy to do and there are no repercussions.
    That’s all.

    [Reply]

    Paul K Reply:

    @Matt B,

    Well, many years ago when Stargate Atlantis came out, the wait was a Year and a Half after each season was aired in the US before you could buy the DVD’s in Aust. And the networks were not consistant in how the show was programmed, so what do they expect? I still bought the DVD’s when they were finally available though.

    [Reply]

  25. Keiran M says:

    Sometimes even the how isn’t viable.. My last DSL link synced at 18Mbit and provided 1.1Mbit.. thanks Tel$tra.. I wonder how much our aging comms network weighs in on content delivery businesses like (but not limited to) Netflix?

    Even so, I am an avid steam user, and the ease of browsing for a steam game and very rarely being told “it is not available” or “out of stock” is a godsend. This in addition to the security I feel, should my house be robbed and all IT stuff taken including install discs I can just sign onto steam on my new laptop and re-obtain all my games by just downloading. I tend to prefer iTunes for my content as if I like a song enough to play it, I’ll likely want to hear it again and again. :)

    [Reply]

  26. Jason says:

    The second you have made potential customers the “enemy”, you have failed. They are not seeing everyone as a potential customer but a criminal. Clearly something has to give, maybe it’s they who need to change and enter the 21st century.

    [Reply]

  27. Donna Wood says:

    Thanks, Steve & iiNet for a comprehensive look at this issue. However, I think the link to “How to Write to Ministers” on Crikey is a bit misleading. I used to reply to Ministerials and it is far better to state your case in your own words, and not go off topic or include other issues. What you should do, and this is noted in the comments to the Crikey article, is be sure to include a postal address for yourself. Even in an e-mail, put your postal address and you are likely to receive a reply. Often you only get an acknowledgment and if you want to continue, pick up the phone. The letter you receive will have a phone contact and it is your right to continue the discussion. Senator Scott Ludlam is very good about answering mail, and if you viewed the link to his questioning of Attorney General Brandis, you would have found that he is full bottle on the subject and very tech savvy.

    [Reply]

  28. Andrew E says:

    Steve, I think the first step is for iinet to listen to their own customer base and start making content for FetchTV subscribers even cheaper. It ridiculous to charge for movie hires at the same rate, or higher, than hiring a physical DVD.

    [Reply]

    Steve Dalby Reply:

    @Andrew E, I get your point, but compare Fetch at $30/mth against the same thing via Foxtel. It is already cheap.

    If we could get the content any cheaper, our retail prices would be lower.

    We can’t operate at a loss and we depend on being able to acquire the licences to sell you the content.

    [Reply]

  29. Brett H says:

    Why hasn’t anyone mentioned the Trans-Pacific Partnership that the Government is secretly negotiating. http://www.choice.com.au/reviews-and-tests/money/shopping-and-legal/legal/trans-pacific-partnership-secretly-trading-away-rights.aspx

    [Reply]

  30. Jeremy says:

    For me it`s not just about seeing content at the same time as the rest of the world,it`s more about the quality of that content.
    Several years ago I bought a 64″ HD TV expecting to be able to watch HD content, quite frankly anything less just looks like rubbish on my TV.Unfortunately Australia has fallen asleep on HD & many of these new streaming services don`t provide it either.
    I refuse to support Murdoch`s Foxtel model where you pay a minimum of $50 a month to buy 10,20,30 or 40 year old content and then pay extra on top of that to pay for content you actually want to watch.

    [Reply]

  31. David Brown says:

    I assume the Australian government is under heavy pressure from the US to sign the TPP agreement and “our” Tony desperately wants to roll over for Rupert or anyone to tickle his tummy so wants to sign up asap

    copyright and US forces agreement that means any US soldier that commits a crime cannot be brought to Australian or international courts for trial are just two of things the US is demanding that Tony will sign up for

    Malcolm Fraser thinks we should be very cautious of keeping our links to the US because we seem to always being drawn into agreeing to things that are self-destructive to our national interest.

    Please keep up the fight for sanity in international relations, its all part of preserving Australians from continued US domination.

    [Reply]

  32. David says:

    The debate has many parallels to the curious regional DVD issue. I find it intensely annoying to pay full price for genuine DVDs bought on my travels around the world to find that I cannot play them on my ‘regionalised’ DVD player. My pals who bought non-regionalised pirated DVDs in Bali have no such problem. This becomes a powerful driver to pirate purchase. Much the same with downloads…

    [Reply]

  33. Timothy says:

    This is the same problem I had 20 years ago when I wanted to buy books from authors that Australian Publishers didn’t import. It cost me $4-7 US ($7-9AU) to buy a $15 Australian book (if I could get it). So I’d send an order to a book store in the US and get books shipped over – Elizabeth Moon had read her books 5years before I saw her books in Australia, Mercedes Lackey 3years. Books in the US were costing about 50% what they were costing in Australia – before the Publishing companies went bust complaining. Give us CONTENT IN A REASONABLE TIME AT A REASONABLE COST AND WE WILL BUY IT – screw us and we get around you.

    [Reply]

  34. AET says:

    This old chestnut again. I am sorry your predictions are potentially right Steve.

    In a different market as a content provider, we have to take measures to protect what we can. It is our fault if we cannot protect our content. It is also our fault if we cannot distribute it in an effective and timely manner.

    Youtube has enormous copyrighted material on it which is easy to collect, often whole series of shows.

    If the toaster burns your toast, whose fault is it? The toaster, the manufacturer, the electricity supplier, the electrician who installed your wiring, the bloke who sold the toaster? Surely the issue here is those who share. People only take because they can and it is easy.

    Fair use legislation needs to happen in Aus also to legalise being able to record shows on video. This should also cover format. We should not have to separately purchase multiple formats. E.g. Are all smart tv manufacturers also liable for creating and selling DLNA?

    Take your case to the media and speak with a collective voice as the mpiaa do. Use your own mailing lists.

    As for the comments about premium cost on-line, if the price is wrong, it will cause piracy.

    Finally, the timeline for copyright is stupid. E.g. Waltzing Matilda or Happy Birthday which is owned by Warner. Physical patents like drugs etc are a few decades, why the anomalies with books, performances or songs etc? Plain wrong in a world which is increasing it’s pace of creative innovation.

    [Reply]

  35. Tom says:

    It’s interesting to hear that snippet from Louis CK posted earlier. When he made his Beacon Theater show available online for only US$5, I bought it right away. So did a lot of other people – with the show raking in over US$1m in 10 days. I’ve since bought his Oh My God show too, also for US$5. Sure, I could probably download it, but why would I? Content available when I want it, at a good price – win win! However, his TV show, Louie, is another matter… the latest season looks to be coming out in Aust on Foxtel in August. It’s already aired in the USA!! What was Louis saying about delaying releases again?

    [Reply]

  36. Glen says:

    A Little known LAW in some Countries – NOT Australia I Believe was that it Was NOT Illegal to Download a TV show or movie that was Not available via that countries distributer.
    This Rule Give’s the media and Film industry a reason to get the film’s-And Programs to us the consumer, when it is available in other countries.

    [Reply]

  37. Sue says:

    Please give us better access to shows like GOT.
    At the same time as other countries, with a more realistic cost?
    I would have happily purchased GOT from ITunes but HBO and Foxtel put a stop to that.
    Why shouldn’t Australians view the overseas programs without the government as usual creating such a furore.
    Let’s put this issue to sleep once and for all!

    [Reply]

  38. Gbernauer says:

    Australians have been overcharge for years and years their is one simple fix in my view a realistic cost for product.

    [Reply]

  39. Andrew says:

    I agree with Steve Dalby’s statements about, “When Foxtel announced its exclusive deal with HBO to air Game of Thrones” … “It’s no surprise they begrudge being extorted.” In January 2012 I became discontented with the programming, advertising and cost of Austar / Foxtel so I switched to streaming / downloading cheaper, advertising free content that I can watch whenever I choose. Communications Minister, Malcolm Turnbull can implement whatever self serving policies that he likes as I am one of the 15% of the population that will find a way around his restrictions. In a way I am grateful for regulation and over taxing as it has encouraged me to think outside of the box to find cheaper products / services overseas and divert my financial resources away from our taxation system and what my over priced locally based organisations provide.

    [Reply]

  40. Maria says:

    Is it so much to ask for access to HBO without signing up to Foxtel and paying for channels I will never need or want? I just want my game of thrones fix and when I don’t get it, I go crazy!

    [Reply]

  41. Reeze says:

    You are exactly right – last year I purchased True Blood, GOT and The Walking Dead all on iTunes -now due to their “deal” I can’t see the HBO shows unless I pirate it or pay for foxtel sub – no way (thank God TWD is on a different channel) and they have only just released S6 of True Blood on DVD and that was on last June. It stinks and they deserve to be hit in their hip pocket like they are doing to us. Payback’s a bitch!

    [Reply]

  42. Chris says:

    The losses reported are simply based on a $ value of the perceived download. 90% of what I download I do not watch thru, most I end up thinking thank God I did not pay for that rubbish. Same with music most albums I only ever listen to a few tracks then likely never again. Now for premium stuff like Game of Thrones I would happily pay per episode but I am not going to join Foxtel for 1 decent series for 10 weeks a year simple as that. There are plenty of ways that enterprising studios could make money out of this stull like a HBO subscription channel perhaps.

    [Reply]

  43. Karen says:

    Why do companies like Netflix not allow Australians to buy their service? They say if we leave a message they will consider it one day.
    I tend to think that Foxtel (which is overpriced with way too many ads and repeated programmes, has a monopoly – reinforced by the Australian government so that no other providers can have access to the Australian market.
    If we could have access to half decent content, I’m sure most of us would be willing to pay a fair price for it.

    [Reply]

  44. Chris says:

    I’ll just say this:

    I haven’t pirated a single game since I started using Steam.

    I haven’t pirated a single song since I started using Spotify.

    I haven’t pirated a single episode of Game of Thrones since… no, wait, I refuse to subscribe to Foxtel, and let’s see… iTunes? Not there. Google Play? Nope. iiNet TV? Not there either. HBO Go? Netflix? Not in Australia. Hmm… I’m running out of options here…

    [Reply]

  45. ken says:

    Why don’t we have the equivalent of Netflix in Australia. I know that there are some people here that subscribe to it using a virtual server in the cloud and paying for it via an Australian bank account. Netflix is OK with that. Why are they not here or an equivalent? I know why and its due to licencing laws. When is the entertainment industry going to listen to the customers. If the product is priced rite, it will sell like hot cakes, look at Netflix being subscribed from here, and its a pain to set up but people are happy to do it and pay to get content when they want it.
    I rest my case.

    [Reply]

  46. Kayles says:

    Totally agree here, I regularly download torrent files but only because we can’t afford Foxtel just for one or two premium shows. If we could get content legally the same time as the torrent sites I would happily pay per show/episode/movie.

    [Reply]

  47. Remi Roques says:

    Great article. Well done!

    [Reply]

  48. neil says:

    ‘Piracy’ happens on boats in the high seas. It involves stealing ships and cargo, and killing people. It’s an inappropriate vilification; like calling peaceful protestors ‘eco-terrorists’. Neither label is appropriate, and yet in both cases those slandered with it seem to wear the slur with pride, as a badge of honour.

    The thing to keep in mind here is that the real problem is an outdated mode of business. Traditionally to get video onto a screen required a middleman. Be it a TV channel, a movie cinema, a video rental chain, whatever.

    Thus the content producers’ real customer (in their view) is the middle men aka content providers.

    The end consumer has grown up and the delivery mechanisms have matured but the distribution channels haven’t.

    The distribution channels are traditionally supported by ad revenue. Which consumers have always rebelled against, looking for ways to skip ads and the time constrains of distribution channels.

    The time has come for traditional distribution channels to either grow up too (netflix) or piss off (blockbuster).

    [Reply]

  49. Ren says:

    If netflix release schedule is anything like it is in USA, I’d rather it not be here. Looks slow as hell, like an internet blockbuster. Having Netflix in Australia would probably be an internet version of Foxtel. Expensive ripoff with delayed releases.

    If there’s a tv service that releases it 1-3 days behind us, I’d gladly pay for that. Least Steam releases we have it same day or sometimes 1 day earlier than us if we’re lucky. Even if they price differently according to region.

    [Reply]

  50. Adam says:

    Just sent complex tangled multi-question messages to all the politicians listed in the article following the advice in the Crikey link. It’s an important issue.

    [Reply]

  51. Richard says:

    Still remains disappointing that even companies like iiNet are unable (or unwilling?) to supply content online at competitive rates. I can rent DVDs from Civic cheaper than I can download/stream through Fetch TV. Surely the cost of electronic distribution is lower than a retail outlet.

    [Reply]

    J Reply:

    @Richard,

    I’am a newish iinet customer ,i was with quickflx at one stage (painful) and i will say that the iinet content has rent movies for around the price of the old video shop ( $3-4) ,have you looked lately ?,with some very late releases also available .

    Hopefully iinet can introduce the advanced movie /premier type movie in conjunction with the theatres ,i think people will pay for this even if it is slightly more .

    For the rest who are just impatient ,you cant have it :) .

    [Reply]

  52. Andrew says:

    Fetch TV needs to bring in stations like Netflix to turn us away from downloading as for now all the good shows are going to Foxnuts instead of free to air.

    [Reply]

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