Fast-tracking in the pirates’ wake
Anti-piracy authorities are struggling to change the minds of TV programmers, writes Rod Chester
MORE than a third of Australians admit to illegally downloading TV shows and movies, but antipiracy authorities are struggling to find a way to stop them.
In the six months since a High Court ruling effectively cleared internet providers of liability for their customers’ illegal downloads, authorities still face the quandary of how to stop the spread of a pirate culture that is approaching becoming the norm.
Neil Gane, executive director of the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft, says content is unfortunately an easy product to steal online.
‘‘ When it’s optional to pay
Generations X and Y just aren’t going to wait
for content, online theft has essentially set the price of digital goods at zero,’’ he says.
‘‘ And this expectation of getting something for nothing is almost an unfortunate byproduct of the internet era.’’
An Intellectual Property Awareness Foundation report this year found about 70 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds regularly download pirated TV shows or movies.
Prof Michael Fraser, director of the UTS’s Communi- cations Law Centre and the founder of the Copyright Agency Ltd, says downloading TV shows is not a criminal matter unless downloaders distribute the shows.
‘‘ I don’t think anyone should feel they can act illegally with impunity. But in the larger sense, it’s true that if we deal with this issue on a one-to-one basis it’s intractable,’’ Fraser says.
‘‘ We have to have a legitimate, secure online environment that gives people what they want in legal channels at a reasonable price, and it gives it to them in a form that they want and at the time that they want.
‘‘ The answer is to meet market demand and for the rights owners to co-operate.’’
Gane says TV and movie piracy is a complex issue.
But he says it is an issue ‘‘ one would hope at some time the market will solve by itself rather than looking for a legislative fix’’.
He says that with internet providers, such as Telstra, increasingly offering TV shows and movies online, controlling piracy is becoming a natural part of protecting their business model.
‘‘ Availability of content is part of the jigsaw puzzle,’’ he says. ‘‘ We are seeing more online business models being made available, with content of both TV shows and movies being made available sooner on various platforms.’’
The Intellectual Property Awareness Foundation research found that more than 70 per cent of people who downloaded content said they would stop the practice if they received a warning notice from their internet service provider telling them their actions had been detected.
But not all Australian ISPs — unlike their counterparts in other countries, including the United States — are willing to send out those notifications.
Media analyst Steve Allen, of Fusion Strategy, says the TV industry’s response of ‘‘ fasttracking’’ shows had proved unsuccessful, often because the time delay between the two dates was still too long.
‘‘ The only thing they can do is day and date. It allows a very little window for downloading and not much time to do it,’’ Allen says. ‘‘ Generations X and Y just aren’t going to wait, it’s as simple as that. It’s not going to happen. And anyone who thinks it is, is just conning themselves.’’