Netflix, Which Has Previously Touted Its Ability To Compete With Piracy, Joins Australian Antipiracy Efforts

from the about-face dept

We have for some time been covering the rapid expansion of antipiracy and site-blocking efforts in Australia. Between the movie and music spaces, these efforts have been spearheaded by a couple of local entertainment groups, such as Village Roadshow and Music Rights Australia, and the typical suspects from the US, such as the MPAA, RIAA, and various movie and music studios. The ramping up of those efforts continues to date, with recently updated copyright laws being used by those groups to request massive site-blocking for torrent and streaming sites, with the courts generally rubber-stamping all of them.

To date, a glaring non-combatant in all of this has been Netflix. And that hasn't been some huge surprise, either, given that Netflix has long had a history of touting its own ability to both compete with piracy and make use of its cultural effects, and the rest of the entertainment industry painting Netflix as some kind of problem for the industry itself. And, while Netflix's tone on piracy has certainly begun to change, that made it somewhat jarring to learn that the company was suddenly diving into the Australia anti-piracy fray with both feet.

Over the past two years, many of the world’s largest torrent and streaming sites have already been blocked, but the work is far from done. A new application recently submitted at the Federal Court of Australia requests ISPs to block dozens of websites.

The complaint comes from Village Roadshow as well as several other prominent movie companies such as Disney Enterprises and Universal City Studios. For the first time, Netflix Studios has joined in as well, as Computerworld notes.

As stated, Netflix is now a part of the MPAA, which perhaps explains why it is now in on these enforcement efforts. This appears to be something of a move of solidarity with the industry, as the focus of this particular complaint is pretty heavy on sites accused of distributing Asian content.

Interestingly, the court order has a strong focus on Asian content. Several of the targeted sites, such as BTBTT and 123kubo.org, are predominantly popular in Asian countries. In addition, the list also includes many anime sites such as Animeultima.to and Ryuanime.com.

The latter is likely due to the fact that the Australian distribution group Madman Anime Group is listed as one of the applicants as well.

So, again, there's something of a all-for-one and one-for-all flavor to all of this. Still, being a member of the MPAA doesn't require Netflix to join in on these legal efforts at site-blocking. As is typical in these complaints, the torrent and streaming sites are painted as having only one purpose: to commit copyright infringement. On that basis, the complaint seeks the blocking of 86 websites.

But the new part of this is Netflix's involvement. Why it suddenly feels the need to join the ranks of those seeking site-blocking is an open question, particularly when it has built a business model out of being more convenient and reasonable an option than piracy itself.

Filed Under: australia, copyright, piracy, site blocking
Companies: mpaa, netflix, village roadshow


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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    tollgested interstate planetary object, 5 Jun 2019 @ 7:16pm

    ingested caprillious

    dot com is only there to reinvigorate the temporary intentions of snails

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 5 Jun 2019 @ 7:51pm

    TFW the hostage takers turn you to your cause.

    That is a nice streaming service you have there, it would be a pity if our membership signed exclusive deals with other services.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2019 @ 8:21pm

    Those who make don't tolerate those who take, nor should they.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2019 @ 8:44pm

      Re:

      How's that Paul Hansmeier defense fund coming along, Herrick?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 5 Jun 2019 @ 9:09pm

      This sounds like you want “those who make” to harm — or possibly even kill — “those who take”. Please explain your intent.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2019 @ 9:15pm

        Re:

        John Smith uses fighting words! News at 11.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Jun 2019 @ 4:12am

        Re:

        This sounds like you want “those who make” to harm — or possibly even kill — “those who take”. Please explain your intent.

        Um, "not tolerating" can mean suing for infringement. Not sure where your brain is on that but it's odd.

        Also I don't answer to you but chose to do so to note the oddity in your logic.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 6 Jun 2019 @ 3:44pm

          Not sure where your brain is on that

          We’ve had people sounding an awful lot like you talking about subjecting “pirates” to torture and even the death penalty. Copyright maximalists tend to says lots of extremist bullshit.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Toom1275 (profile), 5 Jun 2019 @ 10:20pm

      Re:

      That's just words until the MAFIAA finally falls apart.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Jun 2019 @ 12:39am

      Re:

      Bring it on motherfucker

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 6 Jun 2019 @ 1:22am

      Those who make...

      Except content creators are not the rightsholders are not the platforms.

      The studios are infamous for cheating the content creators out of their due for far more than piracy has ever cost them. And the platform is typically not chosen by the content creators.

      So I call bullshit on the toxic Randian capitalism bit.

      Look at who's having the fun
      Easy to smile when you're pointing the gun

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Jun 2019 @ 4:10am

        Re: Those who make...

        The studios are infamous for cheating the content creators out of their due for far more than piracy has ever cost them. And the platform is typically not chosen by the content creators.

        Content creators and performers are paid up front, with extremely high minimum wages set by their guilds. A SAG-AFTRA performer makes around $2k a week, up front, even if the project never makes the producer a cent. The writer makes even more. There are low-budget productions but these "creators" (most of whom live in very rich neighborhoods) are the ones willingly giving the power to the studios. By that point, they've already been paid.

        One famous "D-lister" mentioned purchasing a $13 million home in cash. It's simple numbers: they entertain tens of millions of people and each one is worth X dollars or cents.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 6 Jun 2019 @ 5:41pm

          Re: Re: Those who make...

          Content creators and performers are paid up front

          Except that antipiracy campaigns very often say that these people don't get paid at all. Try again.

          One famous "D-lister" mentioned purchasing a $13 million home in cash.

          Name them, then.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 7 Jun 2019 @ 12:45am

            Re: Re: Re: Those who make...

            "Name them, then."

            Lol, I like your confidence.

            Strange how all these citations of real people who totally did these things are never named, and the people who claim to be ultra successful here never identify themselves, isn't it?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 9 Jun 2019 @ 7:42pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Those who make...

              Lol, I like your confidence.

              I think you can assume any attempt to winkle any proof out of Jhon boi is accompanied by an invisible sarcasm tag.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            That One Guy (profile), 7 Jun 2019 @ 1:22am

            Two sets of numbers

            Except that antipiracy campaigns very often say that these people don't get paid at all. Try again.

            Well you know how it goes, when it comes to talking to shareholders then an album/song/movie is making record profits, when it comes to talking to politicians and/or making laughably dishonest PR campaigns then the same album/song/movie is still incredibly far from making so much as a single cent.

            'These are the numbers for people we can't lie to, there are the numbers for people we can lie to.'

            I do find it funny that they've gone with (what passes for) a tactic that's trivial to turn around on them, as if a studio/label/publisher screwing over the workers/creators on royalties doesn't matter because hey, they were paid up-front, then copyright infringement becomes equally as irrelevant, because hey, they were paid up-front.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Jun 2019 @ 4:14am

      Re:

      The free software and open source movements, the creative commons movement, and most people who publish on the Internet would disagree with you.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Jun 2019 @ 5:58am

        Re: Re:

        Those are freely given by their creators, not taken by pirates.

        Many creators (including me) give away a lot of content, sometimes just to share what we've created for ourselves (like a stock market analysis). The ad/patronage model isn't that promising relative to the proprietary/copyright model, but most creators are not solely in it for the money either (though many like to get paid).

        Sometimes I've made money off free content, sometimes not. The pie is too small relative to the exponential increase in the number of creators and volume of content. This is a new reality that has little to do with piracy, though stealing is still wrong and should be stopped.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 6 Jun 2019 @ 2:56pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          The pie is too small relative to the exponential increase in the number of creators and volume of content.

          The pie was always too small, it's just that before the Internet most creators could not gain a publisher, and often not even a local audience. All the Internet has done is provide a means of publishing that any creator can use, and made visible the vast amount of work that before would have rotted away in desk drawers, floppy discs, and latter hard drives.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Jun 2019 @ 1:50pm

      Re:

      Actually it’s the opposite.
      First you take then you become a maker.
      Take your moral arguments elsewhere AC. You sound like the US when it was loving democracy and the Chilean government at the same time.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2019 @ 11:49pm

    Fragmentation

    The streaming service honeymoon is over. With so many different streaming services and exclusive arrangement it now costs more than a cable plan to get your content.
    So we return to piracy for the same reasons we did in the past. Because the intermediary providers are making it too complicated and expensive to get the content we want.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 6 Jun 2019 @ 12:32am

      Re: Fragmentation

      "intermediary providers"

      You're really not blaming the right people there.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        nasch (profile), 8 Jun 2019 @ 11:07am

        Re: Re: Fragmentation

        I think by intermediary providers he's talking about movie and TV studios and the like. They are intermediaries between the actual producers and the consumers. And they're the ones making basically everyone else's life difficult.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jun 2019 @ 2:51am

    But the new part of this is Netflix's involvement.

    Hmm. Let's look at this logically to determine why Netflix has suddenly changed course.

    When it started, it was a DVD rental company. Then it introduced a streaming service. The combination of services has often been stated as the cause of Blockbuster's closure, but this isn't true.

    Blockbuster, like Netflix, has been punished by the movie studios. Just like the movie studios take nearly 90% of a cinema's revenues today, they did so with nearly all rental stores too. There's a reason people were charged $5.99 for a 7 day rental.

    Reed Hastings once stated the reason they couldn't bring large blockbuster videos to its streaming service was because Hollywood wanted $16 million.

    Per movie.

    Unsustainable, of course, for any business, and ensured any streaming site which set out to disrupt the DVD business would fail.

    Fast forward to 2018, when Netflix finds itself against the powerhouse known as Disney, a company buying up so much "studio property", it makes it impossible to compete easily. With the purchases of the two largest franchises (Star Wars and Marvel), Disney is bankrolling enough cash it now Netflix to go to hell. Its services was no longer required.

    Disney wasn't the only company to do so. Columbia Pictures, Sony, and Paramount have also pulled back using Netflix as a service, as they continue to ramp up their own streaming services.

    Netflix finds itself in a new place today. DVDs aren't profitable anymore and movies are becoming scarce, leaving them to create their own shows.

    We all know what happens when creators become publishers.

    This was inevitable, as is Netflix's demise. I give the company 5 years before it's no longer around.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Jun 2019 @ 4:06am

      Re:

      Disney wasn't the only company to do so. Columbia Pictures, Sony, and Paramount have also pulled back using Netflix as a service, as they continue to ramp up their own streaming services.

      Priceline endured this same dip as industries offered competing sites, but having an independent platform proved sustainable, though Priceline stock dipped to a split-adjusted $7.20 before rocketing into four-figure territory.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Nostril Domis, 6 Jun 2019 @ 8:47am

      Re:

      Look further into the future.

      Dozens of streaming services, at least one for each studio/publisher, and each costs $10-15 per month. Consumers will subscribe to 2 or 3 of those on average and stop there. None of the streaming services is making much money because consumer spending won't cover them all. Eventually they'll all claim piracy killed their streaming service, shut them down and go back to contracts with the major pan-studio streamers such as Netflix, Hulu and AmazonPrime.

      Netflix will be just fine if they can weather this storm and all of the studios will be proven idiots.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 6 Jun 2019 @ 2:06pm

      I remember the Cinema model of the 80s...

      In which the proceeds from the movie was barely enough to pay rent and utilities. Improvements, refits, upgrades and the occasional Christmas party or manager's vacation would come from concession profits.

      Then, around the time of the 1990s Star Wars remakes and Jurassic Park, the studios started charging more and ate not only the whole ticket price but started eating into concession profits.

      It was about that time that curtains stayed open and an advertising slide-show would commence before the show. Then trailers got longer and started showing non-movie ads. Then the slide-show turned into pre-show programming mostly advertisements with audio.

      Eventually all the concourses were lined with flashing video screens that advertised nonstop.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 7 Jun 2019 @ 12:35am

        Re: I remember the Cinema model of the 80s...

        Don't forget reducing staffing so that in many (most, now?) locations you have to buy tickets at the concessions stand, and the projectionist has been replaced by automation to the point where if something's playing out of focus or the wrong ratio you might as well give up rather than find someone to correct it. Part of this is on the heads of greedy multiplex management, but a lot of it's also studio demands. They will insist on certain types of sound equipment being used, for example, and refuse to offer the latest blockbusters to those who don't comply, but the cost of refitting is 100% on the cinemas.

        There are some things that are better about the modern moviegoing experience, but there's no doubt that it's inferior in many ways.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          nasch (profile), 8 Jun 2019 @ 11:12am

          Re: Re: I remember the Cinema model of the 80s...

          if something's playing out of focus or the wrong ratio you might as well give up rather than find someone to correct it.

          On the other hand, that's now extremely rare in my experience.

          Part of this is on the heads of greedy multiplex management, but a lot of it's also studio demands.

          Some of it is customer demands too. If Theater A charges $9, and Theater B down the road charges $10 and uses the extra money to hire more staff, we all know who is going to sell more tickets. There are things people are willing to pay more for at a theater, but I doubt projectionists and additional cashiers are among them.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jun 2019 @ 4:05am

    Just like the movie studios take nearly 90% of a cinema's revenues today,

    That's 90 percent of ticket sales, not 90 percent of the concessions.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Jun 2019 @ 7:36am

      Re:

      Right, because people just love paying $12 for a small popcorn.

      /s

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Toom1275 (profile), 6 Jun 2019 @ 8:07am

        Re: Re:

        I watched Avengers: Endgame in the theater last month. Two popcorns and a soda cost twice as much as the ticket.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Nostril Domis, 6 Jun 2019 @ 8:48am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Pro-tip: Bring your own snacks.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Uriel-238 (profile), 6 Jun 2019 @ 2:13pm

            Sneaking in your own snacks

            Curiously, that's commonplace in smaller town theaters, but at the Metreon in San Francisco, sneaking in your own food was a beating-by-bouncers offense.

            A fond memory is the Parkway Theater in Oakland (allegedly in a bad neighborhood, and there were stories of gunfights, but not when I was there). It served beer and pizza and had lounge seating while watching second-showing movies. Prices were reasonable for both food and tickets.

            Googling, I found The New Parkway but don't know if it lives up to the awesomeness of the old one.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 6 Jun 2019 @ 5:37am

    I wonder if any company can escape this fateful moment. Google, Microsoft, Apple, Netflix etc all started as the new disruptive player, evolved got insanely big and changed into crony regulatory bullies. Is it some kind of curse like get big and get moldy and stagnant?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      TFG, 6 Jun 2019 @ 6:18am

      Re:

      As humans are flawed creatures, any institution created by us will inevitably fail - at which point, it's time to dismantle it and make something new.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 6 Jun 2019 @ 6:19am

      Re:

      Possibly. Remember the big picture - these are all companies that started with a single purpose and a single quality product (well, debatable in the case of Microsoft since their first product of a version of BASIC isn't as important s the tech they bought from others). But, they've expanded far, far beyond their original vision.

      Google was a search engine. Now they're an ad provider, hosting provider, tech research facility, email provider, ISP, and many many more things. Netflix provided DVDs by mail in the continental US, now they're a global media provider, infrastructure powerhouse, movie studio, etc. And so on...

      It's not the getting popular that's the problem, it's the relative lack of focus from the original vision and the differing values of the people you bring in to run the other things. At that point, it's down to investors and middlemen, not the original vision, and that's where you get problems.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Jun 2019 @ 6:28am

        Re: Re:

        You mean they jumped the shark?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        nasch (profile), 8 Jun 2019 @ 11:16am

        Re: Re:

        I don't really see it that way. I think Netflix was always about distributing movies to people cheaply and conveniently. Before streaming was viable, that was by mail. Now it's mostly on the internet. All that other stuff is in service of their primary focus. If movie studios hadn't tried to screw them by pulling their content (or charging exorbitantly for it), I think there's a good chance they wouldn't have gone all in on making their own stuff like they have, because they wouldn't have needed to.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 10 Jun 2019 @ 1:00am

          Re: Re: Re:

          That's certainly one way of looking at it, but even removing the level of original content they now produce (which I agree is largely motivated by the studios screwing them around), the business model is vastly different than it was originally.

          Not only have they had to make a huge investment in infrastructure and software to get streaming operating as reliably as it does, the mere fact that they are now a fully international organisation in ways that would have been completely impossible with physical media changes the nature of the company significantly.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            nasch (profile), 10 Jun 2019 @ 1:44pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            No argument there, it's a very different company. But I think the changes have been in service of their ongoing goal, not as a result of a lack of focus.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jun 2019 @ 7:01am

    Membership

    Still, being a member of the MPAA doesn't require Netflix to join in on these legal efforts at site-blocking.

    Kind of like how being a member of the Mafia doesn't require one to join in their efforts either.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 6 Jun 2019 @ 7:16am

    "Still, being a member of the MPAA doesn't require Netflix to join in on these legal efforts at site-blocking."

    Thinking about why they might have joined, are there benefits other than a seat at the Oscar's table? I can imagine them getting a membership to aid that purpose, but I wonder about that membership agreement. Does it say that 'members' have to participate in all association activities, even if merely passively?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jun 2019 @ 8:25am

    Not remotely new

    It's now 9 years since Nina Paley rejected Netflix as a distribution platform because they refused to disable DRM for the video she wanted to publish. Nothing's changed. They were one of the big pushers of Web DRM a couple of years ago.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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