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: adapting, business models, piracy, press

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Oct 2011 @ 6:39pm

    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. :)

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