Mainstream Press Account In Australia Makes The Case For Why 'Piracy' Is Not The Problem

from the a-wonderful-essay dept

You don’t quite expect to see this sort of thing on a mainstream press source, but ABC, down in Australia, has a feature piece entitled, The case for piracy, which sounds quite similar to many of the things we tend to talk about. It argues that the old school opinion that “piracy bad, copyright good” may not be particularly accurate — and, in fact, it could be argued that “copyright owners” are in many ways their own worst enemies. If you think that sounds like the same thing we’ve been saying for over a decade, then you’re correct — but you probably haven’t seen something like this show up in the mainstream press.

Much of the article focuses on how various industries abuse copyright to do anti-consumer activities, and how infringement is often the only way around it — even for people who want to pay. The article also covers the recording industry’s own suicidal tendencies.

Rather than give customers what they wanted publishers threw every toy they had out of the pram and hit the litigation button. One example saw the recording industry sue a 12-year old girl and won $2000. From her point of view she was simply using a free service on the internet that all her friends were using and discussing. One wonders how happy the recording industry was with its $2000 payout. Over the years industry bodies have spent far more money suing people than they recouped through the courts.

One of the main reasons we all have anti-piracy slogans embedded in our brains is because the music industry chose to try and protect its existing market and revenue streams at all costs and marginalise and vilify those who didn’t want to conform to the harsh new rules being set.

It really is a fantastic piece. Kudos to ABC for running it, and to writer Nick Ross for publishing such an article.

Filed Under: , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Mainstream Press Account In Australia Makes The Case For Why 'Piracy' Is Not The Problem”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

oh right because all the new digital ways to acquire shit legally had nothing to do with the disapperence of brick and motor stores. I mean itunes barely sells any music right? There is no correlation between the decrease of cd sales and the increase of digital sales.

Sure before the internet you had to go to a store to buy a cd, now you don’t but that ease of purchase and the ability to pick individual tracks kind of sucks so why wouldn’t everyone leave the house to go to a store and buy 14 tracks for the one they like?

But i know i know “you have no right” “me me me” “theft” yada yada yada.

oh yeah i forgot to call you a name because if I do that i dont need any facts or anything, hmmm….pooface!

Planespotter (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

taking a copy of something for nothing.


Oh and I’m pretty sure the arrival of the digital era and minimal distribution cost put paid to the need of record shops, video stores etc… doesn’t matter, industries report greater revenues, more product year on year and people made redundant go find another job.

Planespotter (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Doesn’t matter… they just go get some other job, it’s not like these people don’t do anything ever again, not like some massive human scrapheap full of people who’s jobs have been lost due to innovation or a change in the way things happen.

That’s why the AC’s comment doesn’t matter.. things change, deal with it.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Maybe if you actually had any facts to back up the “money lost, stores closed, and recorded music industry decimated” you could get some balance.

Actually, that’s not the problem with his sentence. The problem is “by piracy.”

The record stores were closing long before piracy came about. Deliberately so, by record labels who stopped dealing with them, and dealt with folks like Best Buy instead.

The internet was the nail in the coffin, really. And not “internet piracy,” but iTunes and Amazon, and specifically the “un-bundling” of songs from full-length albums.

The people that are hit the hardest, actually, are radio stations – since everyone listens to Pandora,, or Spotify now. Of course, most DJ’s had already been laid off when Clear Channel monopolized the industry.

Frankly, the recording industry has been run by such incompetent, short-term-thinking, artist-destroying yahoos for so long, it’s a wonder they lasted as long as they did.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

You don’t think that, for at least a few seconds “all her friends” stopped using that pirate service?

Maybe for a few seconds, but almost certainly not any longer than that.

And I don’t know about the recorded music industry being decimated. Probably the legacy industry, but I see more high-quality recorded music, in greater variety, being produced now than I can remember in my nearly 50 years. Most of it isn’t coming from the legacy industry, but there’s a lot more, and a lot better, in the “industry” than the old school.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Decimation

> and the recorded music industry decimated by piracy.

Seems to me the recorded music industry is doing just fine. It’s only the disc makers that are seeing the end of days.

But even if I take you at your word for the sake of argument, a decimated industry is still doing pretty good. “Decimate” means “to reduce by 10%”, so if the recorded music industry is only decimated by piracy, it means they’re still 90% strong.

Hardly a crippling blow.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Decimation

> That’s because you have no fucking idea what
> you’re talking about.

Wow. Behold the irony. Crack a book once in a while, jackass.

The word ‘decimate’ comes from the practice in the Roman legions whereby Caesar would have one out of every ten soldiers executed if they lost a battle. Therfore, to ‘decimate’ means to reduce by 1/10th.

The fact that people today have no idea what the word actually means and misuse it to mean ‘completely wipe out’ or ‘destroy’ hardly means I have no idea what I’m talking about. Quite the opposite, actually.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

the money lost, the stores closed, and the recorded music industry decimated by piracy

… by a 12-year-old girl and her friends?

So you’re saying that a dozen members of the 12-year-old demographic was able to singlehandedly “decimate” the entire music industry and close music stores? That’s some heavy purchasing power they have!

Some Guy says:

Re: Re: Re:

“It’s pretty sad when there is no balance in a story, no comments on the money lost, the stores closed, and the recorded music industry decimated by piracy.”

Really? You’re going to go with that after 10+ years of listening to “lost sales”, “piracy is killing the industry”, “piracy is theft”, “won’t somebody please think of the artists”, etc.

And you’re saying ONE goddamn article from Australia is not being balanced? Wow. Lol. Man, seek help. Reality waved bye bye to you a long time ago apparently. (And yes, I went with the partial insult just cause I can. Well, mostly because of your asinine comment if I’m going to be truly honest. Which is something apparently you can’t do.)

“No balance in a story…” [chuckles softly to himself as he shakes his head in wonderment at the things some people say]

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“You don’t think that, for at least a few seconds “all her friends” stopped using that pirate service?”

Maybe. What makes you think they suddenly started spending money on legal services as opposed to simply switching to a different piracy method, or free legal methods of listening?Or, of course, boycotting the music industry in favour of another form of entertainment?

“no comments on the money lost”

What money lost? There’s still never been any proof that piracy actually loses the industry money other than an assumption based on a correlation. Every study that “proves” losses has been based on made-up numbers and/or faulty methodology.

The industry’s almost certainly “lost” more money by people having a wider choice of entertainment and being able to “unbundle” their purchases than as a direct result of piracy. Of course, I have the same level of proof to prove my view as you have to prove yours, so mileage may vary.

“the stores closed”

Physical stores closed, yes, but digital stores opened to replace them. Why do you people always think the physical ones are the only important ones?

“the recorded music industry decimated by piracy”

Another assumption, and a failure to recognise that the music industry consists of more than plastic disc manufacturers. Typical.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

There’s no comment on the money lost, decimation of the music industry and the apocalypse because there’s no such a thing.

Hey, now you’re thinking like modern artists.

Well, unless you’re being sarcastic. But I hope that’s not the case, because the music industry has been complaining about the “apocalypse” since, at least, cassette tapes have existed.

Let’s be frank. The reason the recording industry (and not any other music industry) has been losing money, is because consumers have been allowed to buy singles, and not full albums. Piracy has nothing to do with it.

So, it’s entirely appropriate that “there’s no comment on the money lost,” since this article has absolutely zero to do with “lost” money. It has everything to do with people who sit in boardrooms and are idiots.

Flash Freddy says:

Re: Re: Re:

As technology changes so do jobs – it is a simple matter of fact and has little or nothing to do with copyright. The ridiculous attempt to criminalizing everybody under the age of 35 is looking increasingly anachronistic as the technology continues to move on reguardless of their protestations.

The Big 5 have lost money hand over fist for musicians in the last decade. Real companies provide services – dieing companies engage in lawsuits. Their big moan in this situation is that they do not control the patents – the music industry is used to holding the patents and carving up regions based on cosy patent and licensing agreements – that is what this argument was always about – a substantial lose of power due to an inability to change with the times. They seem incapable of changing which is understandable given the size of the monopolies they control.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

In the US most of the paper and TV news companies ARE the content companies.

CNN: Owned by Time Warner a major player in film and television content
MSNBC: Owned by NBCUniversal a major player film (Universal Studios) and television (NBC) content which is, itself, owned by Comcast and GE.
Fox News: Owned by Fox, a major player in television, and Fox is obviously own by News Corp who is a major player in newspaper and magazines.
USA Today: Owned by the Gannett company who owns, in addition to dozens of other city papers, several tv stations as well as other digital media properties.
The Wall Street Journal: Also own by News Corp
NYT: Still a legacy holdout from when individual families dominated the newspaper scene.

Honestly the only reason this editorial was even published by a news outlet at all is because ABC is like NPC, it’s a publicly own broadcasting company.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: ABC:

We are sorry to announce that Nick Ross will no longer be with us due to creative differences. We are sorry to see him go. – ABC

Lol. My first thought was why the heck is Disney allowing this – then I Wikapedia-ed “ABC Australia” and realized that it’s the Australian Broadcasting Corp. – run by the Australian government, not the ABC in the US owned by Disney.

Anonymous Coward says:

What non-Australian (especially US) readers might not appreciate at first is that this article accounts for piracy from an Australian perspective.

Since we don’t produce anywhere near enough hours of TV to cover e.g. sixteen (free-to-air) channels at 24 hours each and however many cinemas, most of our movies and TV movies which isn’t sport, news, community interest or local remakes of overseas stuff comes in directly from overseas – predominantly from the US and the UK. (Not that we can’t make good movies or TV down here – we just can’t make as much of it.)

Legitimate ways of getting “current” content are often lacking, pricing is comparatively inflated and as consumers with a clue we don’t feel obliged to put up with the incompetence of our local content providers if there’s an alternative.

We sometimes face months (if not years) of waiting for TV shows and movies to arrive on our screens – if at all. Top Gear and QI both took years to show up down here. The problem is that we’re very much aware of the existence of the content in the first place because we have overseas news telling us how awesome it is. So of course we’re going to go off and find it for ourselves – local providers miss out on our custom one way or the other, whether it’s through piracy or importing things from overseas (whether they’re available here for significantly more or not available here at all).

As for DVD/Blu-Ray, it’s not much sunnier – a few years ago, the national consumer watchdog (ACCC) decreed that DVD/Blu-ray players down here must be region-unlockable or unlocked at purchase. Compared with the range of stuff released for region 1 and 2, region 4 misses out on so much. (Blu-ray’s a bit less rubbish since Australia gets lumped in the same region as Europe and the UK.)

The impact of shipping things in from overseas due to price/timing disparity compared to what we have locally is having a noticeable effect on the bricks-and-mortar shops as well – entire chains of bookstores and CD/DVD stores have folded recently since our currency’s been at parity with USD. It’s almost always cheaper to hit up Book Depository or Amazon UK/US and pay (often no) shipping than shop locally, and the range is better too. Some local shops even have region 1 or 2 discs on the shelf; that’s how rubbish region 4 is.

The release schedules for games are usually much kinder – places like Steam are a godsend – but don’t get me started on regional video game pricing. (AU$90 for a US$50 game – sold digitally? While the two currencies are at parity? Very funny, EA.) Indies are levelling the playing field when it comes to that, so there’s at least that.

Major record labels, studios and publishers are treating Australian DVD/CD shops, cinemas and bookstores far worse than copyright infringement ever could, in my opinion, if they can’t compete with overseas. As the iiNet vs AFACT case seems to prove, Big IP would rather not spend the money to solve the TV/movie problem in this particular territory and increase their legitimate revenue streams in the process. (They’d also rather not let on that it’s USA Big IP vs Australia. Thanks for blowing the lid off that, Wikileaks.)

So take all that into account when you read the ABC piece for added perspective. If you’re in the USA where the movies are in the cinema that week, or the show is on TV that night, you’re not necessarily going to understand so much where Nick’s article is coming from.

Incidentally, the ABC’s position (think of it as the Australian counterpart to the BBC) as a government-funded entity allows them not to be beholden to corporate interests but only to the Australian public interest – this is how they can run pieces like that. 🙂

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The problem of Australia is pretty simple: Small market, small money. You aren’t going to get 24 hours a day of locally produced content.

The result? Piracy doesn’t “hurt” Australia anywhere near as much, because you aren’t pirating yourselves, you are pirating others.

It’s like China and the patent issue – they don’t worry about patents for now, because they are really only taking from others. Give them a while, and they will turn into Japan, paranoid and protectionist.

When you have little or no skin in the game, it’s not hard to play wildly.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Small market, Small money?
so that explains the price gouging on products?
on creating a system that forces them to wait even longer for content to protect them from importing “cheap” discs from elsewhere?

Region coding was going to be the panacea for all of this…
We can sell good at the right price for the market because no bad people can take advantage of the cheaper goods and move them elsewhere. Instead they use the region coding to charge more at every chance, ignore any consumer demand and keep being idiots about it.

and if 21,874,900ish people is to small a market to bother with with your entire industry “dying”… you need to die faster.

Seems like an amazing place to setup a bluray/dvd pressing facility and just have the content shipped over that new fangled interwebs thingy and meet the market demand, seems less costly than spending millions trying to change laws to punish consumers who are just being undeserved.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

That. If 21 million ppl is small then I can’t even begin to imagine what’s big. He’s a more educated and subtle troll.

It is obvious MAFIAA will dismiss and try to discredit this study and the source. Will they manage to do it? Dunno, I have yet to see the thing and evaluate the method used to come up with the entire thing. One thing is certain: MAFIAA studies are bogus. It takes just a peek at the sampling and premises used and you’ll get enough evidence to discredit them. And if you are sane and reasonable, when you listen to the MAFIAA moaning about trillions lost in Australia you already know there’s something wrong.

The Logician says:

Fascinating how, as they grow more desperate, copyright maximalist commentors bring less cohesion to their arguments and more insults. And nothing to back up what they say, although that has always been a failing of theirs. I believe they know their time is almost up, and that we who seek more sensible government and policies will not tolerate their irrational behavior for much longer. In thinking about our situation, I am reminded of the poet Langston Hughes:

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore?
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over?
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

How long until that happens with us, I wonder? How long until the pressure upon us becomes so great that it can no longer be contained? I do not believe it is as far off as some might think.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...