Back off, AFACT: Changing the law is not the answer


opinion The Federal Government should ignore the pathetic demands of the film and TV industry for new legislation to “exterminate” Internet piracy and instead wait for the sector to fix the blatantly obvious problems with its commercial model, following its latest loss in Australia’s High Court. Australia’s copyright law works well as it stands, and does not need changing.

If there is one thing which Australia has learnt by now about the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft, it is that, like the Daleks of the classic Dr Who television series, the organisation and the coalition of global and local film and TV studios which back it simply never gives up.

AFACT has now suffered no less than three defeats in Australia’s courts system in as many years in its high-profile case against Internet service provider iiNet. After its initial case was filed against iiNet in November 2008, the Federal Court first knocked back AFACT’s claim that iiNet was authorising the infringement of copyright through letting its users use the BitTorrent file-sharing platform in February 2010. Not satisfied with that result, AFACT appealed, and was knocked back again twelve months later. AFACT subsequently appealed again, and on Friday last week, the organisation lost yet again, with the High Court — the last court of appeal — denying AFACT any avenue of future legal recourse against iiNet. That’s right: Every year, for the past three years, Australia’s courts have found that AFACT’s pursuit of its case against iiNet is illegitimate. It’s beginning to be an annual tradition.

And yet, like the Daleks (who also tend to appear at least once a year, sometimes in the December Christmas special), AFACT just keeps on coming, in its fruitless quest to ‘exterminate’ file sharing at any cost. One gets the feeling that, like the Daleks, AFACT could survive almost any catastrophe with its mission intact. No matter how many times The Doctor blows up, dismantles or re-orients the Daleks, they never completely disappear from the picture, and repeatedly re-appear to challenge the Earth one more time and destroy all human life as they know it.

One can’t help but imagine that AFACT could similarly suffer any number of court losses and never give up. Every single time it loses, the organisation’s executive director Neil Gane appears for a public press conference, dogmatically repeating the same messages. “EXTERMINATE!” he screeches for the TV cameras. “INTERNET PIRACY MUST BE EXTERMINATED!”

Now the weakness of the Daleks has always been that they are highly single-minded, and thus fairly predictable. They accept no compromises and do not wish to co-exist with other species, preferring instead to eradicate them. Thus, it came as no surprise that (as several pundits predicted — here and here — following the verdict last week), the similarly single-minded AFACT did not accept its third legal defeat in as many years, but immediately flagged its intention to appeal to a higher power: The Federal Government. However, just as The Doctor continually rejects the Dalek’s single-minded approach, there are a number of reasons why Australia’s Government should reject AFACT’s call for legislative redress for its problems.

Firstly, the Government must take into account the fact that Australia’s copyright regime is currently functioning well for other industries.

The music industry, which had historically taken a similarly litigious view of Internet piracy as the film and TV studios, backed away from the issue after it became clear that consumers preferred convenient legal download options such as Apple’s iTunes. Version 2.0 of the legal online music paradigm is now entering Australia with the launch of music streaming services such as Spotify and Rdio. The games industry has similarly worked within existing copyright law to transition its business model towards legal online downloads through platforms such as Valve’s Steam, Microsoft’s Xbox Live, Sony’s PlayStation On Demand and more. Video game piracy doesn’t appear to be a major problem in Australia at the moment, with the overwhelming majority of customers preferring legal options instead of illegal ones.

And lastly, even the book industry, which also produces a wide range of content, has also resolved most of its digital issues, with platforms such as Amazon’s Kindle store and Apple’s iBooks providing lucrative ways for authors to make returns on their content generating investment without resorting to enforcement action on ISPs.

The film and TV studios appear to be the only segment of the broader content industry which has been unable to transition to a new digital reality within Australia’s current copyright regime. If the Federal Government changes Australia’s copyright law to introduce some kind of mandatory industry protocol between ISPs and film and TV studios on the issue of Internet piracy, it has to face up to the fact that it may unlock Pandora’s box and destabilise the very strong progress which has been made on other fronts in monetising the digital environment.

In short, it appears apparent, given the experiences of other related industries, that the Internet piracy issues being experienced by the film and TV studios are problems of their own making — because they have not transitioned to a new digital model — rather than the sort of systemic legislative issue which would need to be addressed centrally by the Government.

Secondly, there is the problem of the rights holders’ intractability on the issue. The Daleks have never accepted any compromise when it comes to the extermination of the human race, and content owners have similarly demonstrated over the past year a lack of willingness to seriously sit down and negotiate with respect to their problems.

The Government (in the form of the Attorney-General’s Department) has already been holding talks between the ISP and content industries on the issue of online copyright infringement; talks involving AFACT and other content industry groups, and iiNet and other ISP industry groups. As iiNet regulatory chief Steve Dalby said publicly several weeks ago, the talks have been going nowhere, with the two sides locked rigidly on opposite sides of the online copyright infringement fence and unwilling to meet each other in the middle. “The rights holders want all the benefits of remedial action, but want the ISPs to foot the bill,” he said. “ISPs don’t want to pay to protect the rights of third parties. The gap between the parties is considerable and unlikely to close.”

However, although Dalby has characterised the talks as being between two sides, neither of which wants to give any ground, this portrayal is actually inaccurate.

The truth is that Australia’s ISP industry has shown itself quite willing to compromise on the issue of online copyright infringement. In November last year, the ISPs proposed an anti-piracy education and warning scheme which would see allegedly infringing customers issued with education notices, leading eventually to a so-called ‘discovery’ notice which would allow rights holders to eventually pursue individual customers themselves through the courts. However, at the time, the Australian Content Industry Group categorically rejected this scheme, stating that it fell “well short of the expectations we had had for an open, balanced and fair solution”. It was basically a “we don’t negotiate with terrorists” kind of answer — no quarter given.

What this should indicate to the Federal Government is that if it does examine the case for modifying Australia’s copyright law, it will not find a reasonable and practical argument on the case coming from the film and TV studios being represented by AFACT. Instead, what it will find is a strongly one-sided argument which will not aid it in making good policy and balanced legislation. Why should any Government deal openly with such an intractable and single-minded group of organisations? The reality is, it shouldn’t. The Federal Government should wait until the film and TV studios appear prepared to negotiate a balanced case before stepping in on the issue of online copyright infringement. Only then would it achieve any ground on the issue.

Lastly, there is the issue of the Government’s own position on the issue.

The fact that the two sides of the debate — ISPs and content owners — are so strongly opposed in the copyright infringement debate leaves the Government with nowhere to go on the issue. It cannot afford to take one side or the other, for fear that it will bring the wrath of the other down upon its head. If it enforces an arbitrary enforcement mechanism on Australia’s ISPs, it risks huge public displeasure and even the possibility of court challenges. Don’t discount the power which telcos like Telstra wield. When Telstra speaks — as it has in the past, backing iiNet on the issue of Internet piracy — Australia’s public listens.

If it goes too far towards the other side, however, publicly backing the ISPs completely on the issue, the Government risks alienating the powerful media interests, especially the US film and TV studios which have been central to a wave of US legislation aimed at curbing Internet piracy globally. The Australian Government does not want to be seen to be publicly rebuking the sorts of US interests represented by the content industry.

Thus the government’s preference for an industry-led settlement on the issue — a position which allows it to avoid irritating both local and global stakeholders. By doing nothing, Australia’s Government is right now thinking, it will upset no-one.

When you take all of these factors into account — the fact that Australia’s copyright regime is working for other branches of the content industry, the lack of willingness by AFACT and its backers to negotiate on the issue at all and the treacherous minefield the Government faces in forming policy in this area — it seems obvious that the Government should ignore AFACT’s demands for legislative relief following the iiNet High Court case and simply sit on its hands for a while to see how the situation pans out.

My personal bet is that in three to four years, the issue will have gone away entirely, as the film and TV industry moves to new commercial models delivered entirely through the Internet. With the music, games and book industries already having gone strongly down this path, it is only a matter of time before the film and TV studios do too, resolving the matter once and for all — in the favour of consumers, and the funding of great content widely available on the right terms for all.

If the Government waits a little, one suspects, this troublesome debate and perhaps even AFACT itself will be exterminated — once and for all.

Image credit: Tony Hisgett, Creative Commons


  1. For as long as the cost to download something is less than the cost of obtaining it “legally”, people will do it. Make downloading less appealing and/or expensive by producing a better “official download” product, and people will come.

    It’s that bloody simple – (which is why they don’t get it)…

    • Even that’s not quite true. If it were, every iPhone would be jailbroken.

      Competing with free is an easy proposition, especially when many ‘pirates’ already pay for VPNs, seedboxes and so on. It’s a black market that would be flattened overnight if the same content were easy to access, affordable and – critically – not geoblocked.

      • The fact that you have to jailbreak the iPhone to get illegal apps on it at all is an exellent example of making it harder to download illegally. The iDevices, Xbox 360’s, Wii’s, and Playstation 3’s have DRM all through them. Piracy is one of the reasons given as to why game developers are moving away from the PC to these platforms.

        • Actually no. Piracy is rampant on these systems, moreso than on the PC platform. On any number of torrent/fire-sharing sites, you will often see the console release weeks before a PC release which ends up having to wait until after release date more often than not. Saying piracy is more a problem on the PC is a strawman.

          The reason why more games are done for consoles is because they can charge the same to more for the game itself and they have a lower, much much lower, cost to produce, being that there is really only ONE hardware configuration to support/debug for.

          To give some perspective, there have been several games, high and low profile games, that released on consoles months before being brought to PC (some not even SLATED for PC at time of release), and yet when they were finally ported over, want to guess what happened? If you guessed they sold, in one case more than 400%, more than on console, you would be correct.

          In the case of AFACT, Renai is correct in that they are suffering moreso due to the fact they have not changed their business model to keep up with not only technology, but also with society and its give-me-now mantra. Having to wait anywhere from 3-18 MONTHS to get legal access to content when it is freely available across the pond is stupid and going to hurt them more and more.

          Make it available worldwide at the same time, as the old reason for not doing so is now null and void. Make it affordable to watch ad-free or free with ads as per their current free-to-air/ppv models. Stop whining about their record profits being eleventy bazillion dollars lost to piracy and 22 gazillion ‘local’ jobs lost in the process, especially when when neither number is FACTUALLY substantiated by any non-biased study.

          Simple really. And yet they cannot grasp the rock of reality.

          • Want to give some references for any of what you just typed?

            I have been a games developer for 20+ years and I don’t know where you got your information from or you just made it up yourself then, but it’s a load of crap.

            “The reason why more games are done for consoles is because they can charge the same to more for the game itself and they have a lower, much much lower, cost to produce, being that there is really only ONE hardware configuration to support/debug for.”

            Garbage, other than combatibity bugs that need fixing which usually ties up one persons time (out of about 50 people) PC is easier to develop for as you are not as hardware and memory restricted. The reason games are going console is publishers aren’t that interested in them as their aren’t many sales compared to the consoles.

            “Piracy is rampant on these systems, moreso than on the PC platform. On any number of torrent/fire-sharing sites, you will often see the console release weeks before a PC release which ends up having to wait until after release date more often than not. Saying piracy is more a problem on the PC is a strawman”

            Just plain BS. PC piracy is way higher than console, Console runs at about 20%, PC 100-200%

            “To give some perspective, there have been several games, high and low profile games, that released on consoles months before being brought to PC (some not even SLATED for PC at time of release), and yet when they were finally ported over, want to guess what happened? If you guessed they sold, in one case more than 400%, more than on console, you would be correct.”

            Care to name these games? Or is this just more BS?

            “In the case of AFACT, Renai is correct in that they are suffering moreso due to the fact they have not changed their business model to keep up with not only technology”

            Maybe for movies, but some of the most pirated games have the highest piracy rates. Desirability of the product seems to be the number one determinant of piracy, not availability.

            The rest you had to say was about movies, not my industry. But as for games, your full of it.

          • ” some of the most pirated games have the highest piracy rates”

            Should be some of the most pirated games are those easily available on Steam.

          • Games that sold more on PC than others:

            Alan Wake: Sold more in a MONTH on PC than consoles period.
            Portal 2 : Valve themselves gave these figures out that PC eclipsed console sales.
            Dungeon Defenders : Stats showed that 80% of ALL units sold were for PC, despite being released about a year after consoles I believe.

            Those are the three games off the top of my head that stand out, each a decent name game.

            Now, Prototype 2 (released tomorrow in theory) is my example for my next point. I can go and grab it for xbox 360 right now. And have been able to for a bit now. off of a well known site, and yet for the PC version……. nothing. On your rates for piracy, care to show fact for those? I can only go off what I have read and talked about with friends and forum members, and console piracy is more than PC there. Why? Because it is just as easy as PC piracy and no need to download the crap that PC piracy sometimes requires (cracks, keygens, trojans etc).

            On console vs PC development I am going off dev comments that have been said over the years. They themselves have given this impression. Not being in the industry itself, I can only go off of their input. I won’t argue that console sales are higher than PC sales for some games/genres. PC gamers are usually, stressing usually, more savvy and wont put up with the crap that console only people do.

          • To pirate for the consoles you have to play it on a chipped console. If they MS catch you your 360 is locked out of XBox forever.

            This is an excellent study on what is going on with PC, consoles and piracy. Pretty much fits in with what I and people I worked with experienced (working 20 years in the business you have a lot of contacts in other studios, including a lot of the studio heads).
            At first, as developers we were disappointed when publishers stopped being interested in PC versions, or having PC as the lead version. So much more you can do without the console limits. We didn’t believe sales were dropping. To them it was a trend they could see. It was about 4 years later we started noticing that when we got to do a PC titles they just were being eclipsed by console titles. These were not little titles, they were for big publishers, MS, Blizzard, etc.


          • You forget one thing though, if the console is ‘region-locked’ ie. it is only capable of playing region 4 games, you are within your legal rights to modchip the console without fear of being legally punished, and if MS decide to brick your xbox because you modchipped it, you are within your rights to sue them and win.

            As can be found here:'s_High_Court_rules_mod-chips_are_legal

            and from that article: Australia’s High Court, in a unanimous decision today, found modchips to be legal.

            Nintendo successfully won a court case against R4i, but that was because the DS in question (the original DS and DSLite) were not region locked consoles.

            That court case saying that modchips are legal was because Sony tried to sue a person who creates and installs modchips for the PS2, however the courts ruled in favour of the defendant because the modchip allows us aussies to have access to a much larger catalogue of legal games.

          • “At first, as developers we were disappointed when publishers stopped being interested in PC versions, or having PC as the lead version. So much more you can do without the console limits. We didn’t believe sales were dropping. To them it was a trend they could see.”

            Isn’t that a bit of self-fulfilling prophecy, though? To stop publishing PC versions because you foresee PC versions will stop being published?

        • Please describe these “illegal” apps? Give examples of them please. Even ‘unlawful’ ones might be considered.

          Unless an app is actually breaking laws that result in actual harm as in indecent images or other already criminal acts then it is NOT illegal, in fact the app itself is not the instigator of any illegal acts, the operator is.

          Alos the reason that content providers of games are moving to other platforms than the PC has nothing to do with piracy. It is all to do with where the market is than anything else especially in relation to the mobile market like iOS, Android, and WinMobile that can all be locked or unlocked using appropriate DRM, or shareware type methods that have been around for decades – even before the WWW actually.

          Oh and if you don’t think Piracy is rampant on the iOS, Android, XBOX, Wii platforms (more so than PC due to the market sizes) with PS3 actually being less of a problem (due to Blueray and it’s cell technology) then you really haven’t done your homework.

    • Agreed!

      Why would I pay $6 to rent a movie to download to watch, when I can download it for free? Making films and TV easily available is part of the puzzle – the other part is making it harder to download illegally. That’s pretty much what AFACT is trying to do, although they’re screwing it up royally.

      • Because it’s reliably high-quality, easy to access and available when you want it. $6 is probably a bit steep, though.

        • …and therin lies the problem. To me, $6 is 50 cents less than I pay for a cup of coffee. It’s about the same price I used to pay for a nightly new release rental from Blockbuster Video 20 years ago.

          It’s also about the price you pay for new release rental movies on iTunes. The option to download movies in HD legitimately IS ALREADY OUT THERE, people won’t use it because as far as they’re concerned, they can get it for a lot less (ie free) illegally.

          • Yes, because iTunes is the answer in supporting choice. One platform, region locked, none locally hosted. Change that to multiple platforms, not region locked and locally hosted and you have an actual winner. I won’t go into DRM as it is neither here or there in this arguement.

          • $6.50 for a coffee?? What are you drinking, kopi luwak?

            Despite my misgivings, I do pay $6 for iTunes movie rentals via my Apple TV, because it’s the easiest option and the quality is reliable.

            So, the option to download *movies* is there, yes, but many people still don’t know about it, and crucially, most movies are not available everywhere at once. Distributors put far more effort into restricting their content by country, especially where television shows are concerned.

          • by comparison to going to the movies (which is what AFACT want us all to keep doing) $6 is pretty cheap home cinema experience. I pay $3.99 for movies on the US iTunes store (like MI:3 on the weekend) so that’s even better. So Australia still has a way to go

            AFACT really need to adopt the online model, get pricing right (i.e lower than current levels) and then watch an explosion of legitimate online movie/tv purchases.

            Build it and they will come :-)

          • What other options are there that aren’t Apple and Itunes…that allow me to play/edit/sort it anyway I want.


          • TBH, $6 for a movie rental is BS. I currently pay $10/ month for 2 Blu-ray movies posted to my house from Quickflix.
            That’s right, they have to buy 2 Blu ray disks, re-package them and then post them to me (with a reply paid envolope) and its STILL cheaper than an iTunes download while being far better quality.

      • Actually maybe you are paying $6 to rent a movie becasue you are only going to the closed market system that is BlockBuster or VideoEzy.

        Myself, I head down to my local independent Video store that has New release DVD’s for $2.50 per night, all others for $1.95 per 3 days or $1.50 per week. BlueRay is anywhere from $5 to $3.

        This means My family an dI can watch a 1080p Blueray with all the extra features for $5 per night or two DVDs when we don’t really need the High Definition (drama’s, comedies, etc really don’t need the 1080p) . Cheaper than downloading (and remember a 1080p download is over 2gigs) and has extra features.

        See the independents are competing with Free, and doing very well actually. Maybe the problem isn’t the cost of DVD’s v. Downloads.. maybe its the inability of the major DVD providers to actually compete and remodel their business.

  2. What impact will the NBN have moving forward? Someone on a 100 Mps connection is going to be downloading at ~10 m/s, and grabbing a full 700 meg movie in around a minute.

    The NBN will need to be an issue for both AFACT and ISP’s moving forward. People are going to have this service by default, and one of the key uses MUST be entertainment. And with that use, people are going to get that content one way or another.

    AFACT does things right, and gives the right tools, then that content will be gotten legally, and AFACT profits. The alternative is to drag their feet and miss another opportunity. Build those opportunities into the service plans and people simply wont notice.

    • agree – the consumption of entrainment content “legitimately” will be a key driver of the success or otherwise of the NBN. It’s not in the Govt’s interests to do nothing and let piracy continue to flourish.

      • The best thing I’ve seen any politician do to address piracy is to pressure tech companies into not fleecing Australians on price.

        If the product is available, affordable and simple to obtain, consumers will flock to it in droves.

  3. If the issue goes away in 3-4 years (as we all hope at the least) I cant help but think about SOPA/PIPA/CISPA, the MPAA’s investment in them, the pressure put on other countries to do their own – Spains sinde law (US said to the outgoing president “pass it or suffer economic sanctions”), France – Hadopi, Sweden, raid The Pirate Bay or economic sanctions, Richard Dwyer being extradited from UK to US, Megaupload raid (the last time I heard of a raid like that was the one on Bin Laden) etc etc. My point is I dont think they will give up that easy

  4. Pedant point: The Daleks have yet to appear in a Christmas special, at least as they’re defined for the modern series. Closest you’d get is The Daleks Master Plan Episode 7, way back in 1965, and that was more of a fourth wall breaking moment on the part of William Hartnell than a genuine Christmas special.

    • *sigh* well it’s true that I don’t know Doctor Who very well — that’s more my wife’s forte. But I thought I had remembered that I had enjoyed Daleks at Christmas one year. Happy to be corrected, though!

  5. here’s an interesting perspective;

    Afacts strategy here is to avoid confronting the very people it claims are violating their copyright.

    Instead, it has pursued a campaign against ISP’s in thehopes of forcign the ISP’s (through court, or new laws) to act as the instrument through which they can physically restrain people from breaching their copyright.

    Just think about that for a moment. Imagine the Government, of any country, granting one company the right to prevent it’s citizens from undertaking independent activities. Imagine Westfield getting the police to prevent suspected shoplifters from leaving their houses.

    iinet are taking a chillingly spineless approach to this. They throw their hands up and say “do whatever you like, as long as we are fairly compensated”. True enough that they stand to lose customers if the law changes, but they are happy because in all probability, it will just lead to converting a share of their most expensive customers to lump sum payments from Afact, and those customer churning to their competition. Great for business!

    What bothers me the most is that AFACT really do want the right to cut people off the internet, but are afraid to look like the bad guy. I’m afraid you can’t have it both ways. I think they need to prove they have the right, in court, against a few mums and dads. Then, let them negotiate to streamline that process through an industry code of practice.

    Here’s an important point though: The people I know would respond to this. Nobody can point me to a single case of joe bloggs getting fined, in Australia, for downloading a TV show or Movie via Torrent. the day this changes, so will peoples behaviour. Perhaps that change will be to move off torrents, or perhaps it will be to seek legitimate content sources, assuming they exist when that day comes.

    • Finally someone who points out what should e the focus of all this “protect our product from pirates” argy-bargy!

      Neil Gane has been banging on about how copyright laws in Australia need to be brought up to date, because as he portrays it, there is no protection for their IP once it hits the internet.

      YES, THERE IS!

      Copyright law allows the IP holder to sue those who breach copyright. Not the intermediary. The high court has firmly put the ball back into AFACT’s court – you can’t sue the carrier. They did not say that there was any type of obstacle to AFACT suing individuals.

      This is what needs to be pointed out to the politicians. In letters six foot tall.
      Copyright isn’t broken. The distribution platform / business model is. Don’t be fooled by AFACTs lobbying.

  6. The NBN has nothing to do with torrents increasing or decreasing, whether it takes 1 minute to download, or an hour, how much can you actually watch? (Normal TV episode being around 40 mins?, Avg movie 9-120min).

    Just because you can download squillions of movies a month doesn’t mean people do/will.

    (Heck there’s not that much you’d actually want to watch a month).

    • Fair point Simon, but thats not what I was getting at. At the moment, downloading a movie takes about an hour, give or take, with a good connection. A significant length of time at any rate. If you download that movie through torrents, you may share 0.2 of a copy to others.

      Enough time for AFACT to potentially link in for a partial download, and harvest your IP address. In other places, that harvesting is what leads to the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd strikes. Fast forward to a 100 meg connection on NBN, and instead of taking an hour, it takes just a couple of minutes.

      Someone grabs the movie, and stop sharing immediately, they share 0.01 copies of the movie. Far less time for AFACT’s henchmen to link in to your leech, and harvest your IP.

      And therein lies the point – AFACT wants a 3 strikes system, but under the NBN a downloader will be in and our of the torrent program so fast AFACT wont be able to detect them. Music is worse, when it will take 10 seconds to DL an album.

      Nothing to do with how much time you have, your spot on there, but with how people will be downloading. Things will be so fast, they will be active downloaders, still sitting there when the download is complete, rather than passively downloading overnight, or in other quiet times.

      These are issues that both AFACT and the Government need to consider when proposing legislation. Whats the point of bringing in a 3 strikes policy when its going to be pointless before it gets going.

      If you look at whats happening in NZ, the 3 strikes policy over there has been a complete waste of time for movies, its only been the music industry thats bothered to send notices. NZFACT have sent a total of zero notices, and ultimately costing the ISP’s plenty of cash as they set the system up.

      If its hard enough now, whats it going to be like when downloads are 10-15 times faster?

  7. As someone who buys and rents Movies/TV shows and also downloads them.

    I’ll say that it’s often the speed as to which I can access the content I am wanting to watch that will drive me to download it.

    But we are very happy to go out to the video shop and browse what they have on offer and pay $11 to rent 2 new releases.

    Although the other day an email popped up from the local video shop saying that the new Sherlock Holmes movie was available well the email said “rent it now” but looking at the fine print next to the DVD images it stated that it wouldn’t be out until 10th May. Now having an 18month old we’ve missed a lot of movies at the cinema and the wife and I had been wanting to see this movie. So I jumped online and downloaded the bluray rip of the film. The email I had received from the video shop had reminded us about the film and seeing as how we were already discussing what films we were going to watch on that weekend, we wanted to watch Sherlock Holmes.

    Now going back to TV Series, since we are such a connected society now I’m wanting to watch things as they come out and not have to way for local free to air to pick them up (I’m not going to pay for pay TV when 90% of it I won’t watch) So I download them.

    But I do buy my TV shows and Movies on DVD (and soon bluray) because I want to keep certain content available to watch it at a later date and am happy to pay for it (from Amazon UK, local prices are generally a rip).

    You also have to weigh up, do I want to store 30Gb+ for a TV series or fork out $XX and buy the box set. Also I’ve had the situation where I’ve wanted to start watching a series but to get it all it was well over 200Gb for the entire thing. So I paid the $$ for it because it was more viable to spend the money than download it from torrents.

    Now if there was a local hosting for this content and it was quota free or if it was on demand (never to expire) I’d happy pay for digital version of the product. But the back catalogue has to be decent and the price has to be right.

    You can pickup Game of Thrones season 1 in bluray from JB HiFi for $66.99 (season 2 has started airing this year) or pay for pay TV to watch it. It is $50 from Amazon UK (so a little bit cheaper)
    Or you can very easily download it from a torrent in 720p as it aired (or now in bluray rips) at around 1.2gb to 2gb.

    10 Episodes so you’re looking at up to 20Gb to store/download the whole season 1. So you’re looking at $7.95 to download the whole series in a decent format to watch when ever you want. $0.79 per episode.

    So really you are not downloading it for free because it is costing you quota.

    If the movie industry was to start digital disruption they’d have to be offering an episode at a decent price, because currently to buy Game of Thrones on bluray it’s $6.69 per episode.

    Of course digital distributing can be done look at Steam, they are distributing huge files and have quota free areas from certain ISPs. And they are selling slightly cheaper than in stores (in most cases) even still people are happy to pay for it because they can gain access to that content again at a later date by just downloading it.

    Also look at Sony they offer up on Android a streaming service for free, it’s not well advertised and I haven’t actually gotten it to stream properly but it’s there!

    Ok not sure what my aim in ranting was, but hey it’s there now.

    • You missed out. When it was first out JB had the Bluray for $49 and if you bought it you could buy other HBO stuff for 1/2 price, got Pacific and Band of brothers.

      • Yes forgot about that, I was just looking at stuff now. It was a very tempting deal and I really should of bought it at that price then.

  8. Its all about distribution isnt it? Who gets what, when. Now the internet threatens that model of distribution and everyone has been telling them that the internet is their solution as well

  9. Its this simple. Until I can access Game of Thrones at a minimum of 720p with 5.1 sound, at the same time than it airs in the US (or at the most 2 or 3 days later) , for a price no more than $4 an episode, I will continue to pirate it, along with every other awesome show that HBO and AMC churn out.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I just checked iTunes and Game of Thrones appears to only be available in 480p (worse than NTSC DVD quality when you factor in their low bit-rate) with 2.1 sound, to rent for $3. Oh and its a week behind.

    Given I have no desire to sign up to Austar (I presume GoT is at least available in HD on payTV?) as I have no interest in 90% of their channels of shows, that leaves me with one option: Piracy.

    Movies, not so much. I tend to still hire Blu-Rays for big name films, because nothing beats a high bit-rate 1080p picture with lossless sound, but for TV shows that can be so easily spoiled (and are only available in SD through legal channels) its important to me to be as close to the US airing date as possible and to access the show at the highest possible quality (which is 720p/5.1 in torrent form).

    • Interestingly, and rather stupidly, the US iTunes store has season 1 of Game of Thrones available in HD, but not the Australian store… Yet another example of big studios giving people excuses to pirate. If it was available in HD locally I would have purchased it.

      • There ya go. I had a suspicion that might be the case. Presumably so that Foxtel has the exclusive rights to the HD version for the time being? You’re right, a perfect example of how badly behind the times the existing methods of content distribution are.

        If it were 720p/5.1 at $4 an episode (and up to date with the US air dates) I would gladly be renting it through iTunes. Not that I like iTunes or DRM, but I’d rather acquire content legally (and it would be nice to know that at least some of my money reaches the producers of such an awesome show).

        • I think if producers decided to release stuff globally and not just to a locally US market then perhaps we might see less great shows get axed

  10. AFACT like DALEKS?

    nah….. more like Cybermen controlled by a hive mind in some distant place (USA), with all emotion and common sense removed trying to remake all others in their image so we shall all be sheep and conform to their version of reality.

    And unlike the Daleks they are pretty boring and only have a few episodes left in them (if that).

    • …and unlike the daleks, the sybermen have appeared in at least 1 Doctor Who Christmas special :)

  11. “We don’t like the law, so here’s a draft amendment we prepared earlier…”.

    It’s actually something that’s been done in the US on various issues – lobby groups get parliamentarians to present the lobbyist-drafted bill. Great way to make law that considers all the issues.

    Of course, in Australia the federal government believes in best practice legislation, with an agency to ensure that all proposed legislative instruments are properly canvassed to all effective parties to ensure they take account of community requirements. Given that, one has total confidence that the Communications Minister (currently Senator Stephen Conroy, contactable at will not simply roll over to some overseas-based companies on this.

  12. The #1 reason the visual media industry (film & TV) is not learning from the other industries and continue to push for policies that would end the Internet as we know it has to do with their huge fear of what will happen to their revenues in the “post broadcast” era where people get content directly (free or paid, ad-supported or otherwise) instead of watching linear channels be it free-to-air or subscription.

    The studios know they can never get as much revenue from services like Netflix and Hulu as they can from linear channel programming so they will fight tooth and nail to keep any threat to the lucrative linear channel business model from gaining ground.

    • Linear broadcasting is NOT under threat.

      Consider the US FTA TV market — most of the highest rating programmes are released first on FTA. Think about live sports, reality TV and other made-for-TV serials. The supposed “threat” from piracy would be no different from the “threat” from the old VCR. The real threat to revenues from piracy is post-broadcast DVD sales.

      The efforts of content owners are largely directed towards trying to protect the value of content releases via secondary and tertiary channels. There is sufficient content released via direct broadcasting as the first release platform (and is also specifically produced for TV schedules) that it will be around for many millenia to come. (Just think: the regular evening news slot on the FTA networks continue to draw huge audiences.)

      I know some crazy socialist politicians have wet dreams about the “destruction” of large media corporations which own broadcast networks; but they are simply suffering from self-delusion.

  13. @Gav, disagree here sorry. Most people seed continually in my experience. If AFACT are watching, they are likely to get most people. (Except private trackers etc).

    As stated ad nauseum though, if 3 strikes or similar legislation comes in, people will just switch technologies/use VPN etc.

    • Thats alright Simon, feel free to disagree, its only my opinion. You’re right though, as soon as one method becomes too much of a hassle, another will pop up. The music industry killed off Napster, and up popped iTunes and Limewire, neither of which benefitted the music industry.

      I still think my point is valid though, in that under the NBN streaming will become so commonplace that if people cant get their content legally, there will be no qualms getting it illegally. And catching them will be hard, given the speed of the transaction.

      That MUST be an issue moving forward.

  14. Interesting, back in 2004 in my first class of my MBA, I had a debate with a young lady from Warner Music on illegal CD coping and the threat of the Internet. At the time, she was (as was the industry) that people were thieves and would only ever steal because they could. My position was like Michael’s, make the price of the product less than it costs to pirate and at the time with few MP3 plays and CDs in vogue with slow and expensive Internet (damn you T$), it wasn’t that hard to price it and still make a $m (I might of mentioned how the public were pissed off paying $39 for 2 good songs and 10 shitty fillers).

    Roll forward 8 years and despite very cheap internet (thank you everyone else) lo and behold, iTunes and other legal methods are going gang busters. Yes there is still theft, but it is a minority now as most people do the right thing if they think they aren’t getting screwed (refer AU prices were x2 US). MP3 players have actually enabled the rights holders to be successful in this model, not the other way round. Yet I hear the same rhetoric from AFACT; people will always steal because it is free and would never pay for it. Uh-huh!

    I remember when Blockbuster first came to the Tivo (3 years ago?) and the rights-hodlers demanded that BB not show new films online until 3 months after the DVD had been released into stores. Talk about wanting to protect old physical media models – don’t get me started about DVD regions and copyright zones….

    • Region zones..grrr. To add insult to injury, after Australia successfully did away with region coding of DVDs in court, naive home theatre hopefuls like myself thought that Blu-Ray would be the perfect chance to unite the world and abolish region coding for good. Particuarly as PAL/NTSC was no more, and practically all Blu-Rays are stored in the same 1080p24 format and HD films could all come from the same master worldwide. But no, that would be too easy for the consumer. So not only do they keep region coding, but they make it near impossible to circumnavigate, without expensive PC software or a hardware mod of a stand alone player.

      Then to make the situation even shittier, up until recently with the introduction of some Blu-rays incporating digital copies (and the emerging ultra-violet format in the US which you have to pay extra for!) there was no easy way for a consumer to transfer the films they already own to a high end media server (some companies have even been sued after trying trying to put out devices that make a copy of a customer’s own disc to archive digitally). As a result anyone trying to migrate their personal HD collection to a digital media server, for use with something like XBMC, is forced to turn to illegal or dubious ripping methods. Or or course, quickly, but illegally download torrents for films they already own.

      After working in custom AV for years, I know a few people in this position who have resorted to hideously overpriced Blu-Ray disc careousels just so they can have all their films on hand at the press of a button (getting out of your chair to change the disc is too much effort for the rich! ;) )

      • The Toshiba led HD-DVD consortium did do away with region coding and the more recalcitrant studios like Fox joined the BluRay consortium because HD-DVD didn’t have enuf DRM for their liking and lacked Region coding!

        Eventually the BD consortium convinced all the Movie studios to back their less consumer freindly format.

        I was an early adopter buying 1st gen HD-DVD and BD players from the USA and HD-DVD was 2 years ahead of BD in terms of features like net connectivity, pip, interactive commentaries, higher quality basic audio, dual sided discs wih normal DVD on the other side etc and the HD-DVD players load times where orders of magnitude faster because they weren’t loaded up with BD-Java VM’s and other user hostile garbage!

        And once again consumers lost because the studios where owned by companies like Sony and dictated internal to the CE’s what features BD should have to keep the consumer locked down!

        • While I agree with your comments about region coding and consumer friendliness of HD DVD, it also lost out because of lack of studio support and its technical inferiority. Significantly less storage space and it quickly slipped behind Blu-Ray by lacking true 1080p24 encodes and players that supported native 24p output. However it was in front of Blu-Ray with audio initially, given many early Blu-Rays had confusing lossless PCM audio instead of DTS HD.

          I’m going by memory here, so correct me if I’m wrong, but werent the first and 2nd gen HD DVD players 1080i60 or 1080p60 output only? In fact I think the first gen Toshiba player we had in the hi-fi store I worked at, would only output 1080i60 from component or HDMI. I’m sure this was (or would have been) rectified with newer players, but at the time I recall it was one of my reasons for backing Blu-Ray. I hate 3:2 judder of 60hz almost as mich as I hate the 4% audio speed up of 50hz films on PAL DVD.

          • There’s only 29gb difference, BD is 50gb an HD-DVD is 30gb, most movies take up only 18gb so storage space as really irrelevant. The mid range and top model 2nd gen HD-DVD players output 24p after an early FW update. The movies themselves where stored with 2/3 pull down lag and to output 24p he players just ignored the pull down flag. 50hz content was extremely rare just like it it is on BD – all local movie releases where 24/60hz.





    An australian netflix user.

  16. Well maybe it’s just me but I am tired of spending up to $50 for two of us to visit the cinema, only to be utterly disappointed by the movie. Studios sell the movie through trailers and often the trailers are the best part of the movie or sometimes very deceiving in what the movie is about.

    If I purchase a shirt that didn’t fit I could take it back, or an item that wasn’t as described, yet when I go to the movies and sit through utter crap I can’t go ask for a refund. So what would the movie studios like me to do? not watch 99% of what they publish because it’s lacking any creativity and has been done a million times before?

    I had about 300 HDDVD’s, did you compensate me when Sony compensated you (bribed) to change to blueray? so what did I pay for? movies I won’t be able to watch once my player is broken! Movie studios have no reason to cry about piracy, they bring it all upon themselves. I actually remember my uncle going through the same crap with BETA vs VHS, he had a massive BETA collection that was rendered useless.

    • I had a heap of HD DVD movies too. Most I upgraded to Blur ray. Most studios were offering a 4.95 upgrade program. I don’t know if that is still going. I only had 50 odd disks I wanted to upgrade. 300, that’s got to be expensive. Did you buy them all full price? I grabbed a whole heap when they were clearing them out at a few bucks each.

  17. A portion of the market will always want to pay $0.

    A far larger portion of the market will be prepared to spend $xx, for content. Of that, most will put up with larger prices in some cases, in others it will seek alternative options.

    Those banging on about the games industry, or film industry like it’s “special” need to remember that in every other market on the planet, the laws of supply and demand tend to shape how the market reacts.

    Games, and content tend to be different because the market is forcibly constrained and distorted by marketing models designed solely to exploit the consumer.

    In any market this occurs, it can occur for only so long before there is some degree of revolt. The more a resource holder attempts to constrain it’s market, the more the market will resist.

    The simplest solution has always been for content owners to adapt; in conjunction with legislative changes to make fair use/ IP rights a better balance for all concerned.

    Instead, they choose to demonise and blame the very consumers whom spend billions and billions a year on content. When that doesn’t work, it’s time to whine at law makers to help make changes.

    There is no discussion over flexibility to improve the outcomes. Just demands. And complaints. Any people repressed for sufficient time will find another way. It’s proved every single day in news media, on a global scale.

  18. I download Game of Thrones each week after it has aired in the US and uploaded to torrent sites. If there was a legal way to match the illegal way, I would GLADLY pay to watch this awesome show. Simple really.

    • +1 to that exact situation. Winter is coming and fucked if I’m waiting an extra year for it! :)

  19. The underlying “logic” of this thread is a COMPLETE JOKE…

    “The creative industries need to learn to ‘compete’ with people who steal their product.”

    If you can’t see the absurdity of that proposition, you have lost all connection to reality.

    • The “we cant compete with free” line is pure BS, if you provide Netflix / iTunes like services, piracy becomes a non-issue with average Joes and the copyright holders will make plenty of money!

      Instead of moving to online distribution like the music industry have done, the MPAA / AFACT want to hold on to their old business model and monopoly profits and have OTHERS pay to police their copyrights!

      • I can destroy the “online distribution” argument in one word:

        P O R N.

        No other industry has adopted the internet as swiftly and with as much enthusiasm as the porn industry. Yet, there is still massive piracy of porn content despite there being millions of commercial porn streaming services available.

        Give up already — all the arguments trying to defend piracy are absurd and lame.

        • Let me guess this straight. You’re accusing pretty much everyone in this thread of lying, so we can continue to download/upload torrentz, rather than paying for awesome services like Hulu or Netflix were they available?

          Great logic.

    • No need to compete. I want to give them my money. They just don’t want it. In my case Ive downloaded game of thrones as soon as it became available, which was illegally, Yet when the bluray version was released I bought it straight away. They could have had my money twice.

  20. Possible could the suggested solutions in the new book “The Case for Copyright Reform, be a good way to go forward, and reform the copyright?

    The book is a compilation of the strongest articles on reform of the copyright monopoly from Christian Engström (MEP) and myself, edited into book format for readability and bedside-table friendliness for those who want the whole story in the same place and in an easy format.

    It not only shows the problems with today’s situation, and traces them back to the history of the copyright monopoly, but also presents a comprehensive proposal detailing how things can be fixed, and shows how the proposal resolves the problems with today’s situation. The proposed solution is realistic and politically doable – not to mention that it has been picked up by the entire Green group in the European parliament.

    You can download it here:

    Other electronic formats are available at the book’s dedicated site:

    The book is released into the public domain; Creative Commons Zero.

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