Govt going down “wrong” piracy path, says iiNet


news National broadband provider iiNet has published a sharp blog post accusing the Federal Government of going down the “wrong path” with respect to its efforts to tackle Internet piracy, with the ISP exhorting its customers to become politically active in speaking to politicians from all parties about the issue.

Before the election, then-Shadow Attorney-General George Brandis refused to confirm whether the Coalition had a policy on online copyright infringement. However, in February this year, the new Attorney-General gave a major speech in which he re-opened the issue of Internet piracy. And in a subsequent interview, the Attorney-General subsequently upped the intensity of his discussion on the issue threatening to introduce legislation to deal with the issue of Internet piracy in Australia unless the ISP and content industries can agree on a voluntary industry code to deal with the issue.

In a Senate Estimates hearing several weeks ago, Brandis confirmed he could not remember having met with consumer organisations with respect to the development of the Government’s new Internet piracy policy, and appeared to state that he viewed the public interest in the matter primarily through the lens of the creative industry.

The news comes as several weeks ago other elements of the content industry also intensified their public pressure on the issue, telling media and marketing site Mumbrella that all options for dealing with Internet piracy were on the table, from court orders to target pirating users, to ‘three strikes’ mechanisms for cutting off the Internet access of alleged infringers and website blocks.

The renewed debate on the issue has come after previous talks on the issue held by the previous Labor Government and involving the ISP and content industries collapsed, with iiNet stating that the content industry was unwilling to budge from its hard-line stance on the issue. Consumer groups were initially explicitly blocked from the talks but eventually allowed in.

In a post on the company’s blog yesterday, iiNet chief regulatory officer Steve Dalby said ridiculed what he said were “recycled claims suggesting Australia is the worst nation in the world for Internet piracy”.

“The Australian Government is readying legislation, if news reports are to be believed, which would require ISPs such as iiNet to send infringement notices to our customers while, at the same time, blocking certain websites which provide access for customers to download and share unauthorised content,” he wrote. “We believe the Government is heading down the wrong path if they’re serious about protecting copyright.”

Dalby wrote that iiNet did not condone Internet piracy in any way, shape of form. However, he noted that the various proposals put forward by the content industry for stopping Internet piracy — from infringement notices issued to customers, to blocking access to websites with BitTorrent links — had broadly been ineffective. The actual solution to the issue, the executive wrote, was a commercial one.

“We think that content should be made available to Australians at a fair price and at the same time as it is available elsewhere. The Lego Movie for example, was released two months after it opened to rave reviews in the USA. Village Roadshow (The Lego Movie’s local distributors) even came out a month before its local release and complained of piracy, while probably not even looking at why it was being pirated,” he wrote.

“And that’s the fundamental difference between iiNet and the rights holders. They want to tackle how customers are pirating content. We want them to look at why, and then move forward, addressing the cause, not the symptom.”

Dalby exhorted Australians to make their voice known on the issue. “Write to those who are positions of power and let them know what you think,” he said. “You can start by contacting Attorney-General George Brandis and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull. You can also send your thoughts to politicians engaged in the issue such as Shadow Communications Minister Jason Clare and Greens Senator Scott Ludlam.”

“In your correspondence – point to 2013’s Parliamentary IT Pricing Review – and ask the government to tackle the known issues such as higher prices and lengthy delays for Australians.”

I suspect most Australians will find it hard to disagree with Dalby that the solution to the Internet piracy issue needs to be a commercial one — not a regulatory one. Pretty much all attempts to regulate the Internet have failed over the past there decades. I am amused and saddened that the attempts keep coming. Many people, it seems, still don’t understand the depth and importance of the technological revolution which Earth is permanently engaged in now.

Image credit: Enrico Corno, royalty free


    • Agree’d…

      How quickly the gov forget the Past attempts. Anyone remember the “Great internet Filter” of 2012 and just how much the internet was up in arms about it. Protests, Petitions etc.

      I would know, Collected over 60,000 Sig in WA to stop that.

      Sigh, here we go again, Around… 5

  1. The Internet and its components have, at the core, a design which emphasizes robustness, survivability and utility despite the loss of large portions of the underlying network.

    The Internet sees censorship (in the blocking of certain websites) as a failure and provides ways to route around it.

  2. The major content owners drive me absolutely crazy. I was on itunes and it seems like a big slab of rentals have been removed with purchase being the only option, making it absolutely useless as an alternative to bit-torrent or a car trip to a video store.

    I could be wrong but I would put money on Foxtel locking up the on demand streaming rights to valuable backlist catalogue. Absolutely batshit insane.

  3. If the LNP believes it to be such a non-issue wrt voters, why *did* they hide their policy position until after PM Abbott was given the keys to The Lodge?

  4. Yep, all i want is something like Steam, but for TV Shows, Movies and Music.

    iTunes kind of does this but your locked into their format. I want flac and non bit starved videos. I also want to play them in the player of my choice (via a plugin perhaps).

    I know this would work for someone like myself, because i haven’t pirated a game for over 6 years. I have even bought games i previously pirated just because i felt i should.

    Many will be the same, i’m sure, and this has all been said numerous times in various ways. Until the industry realises this nothing will really change. Aussies will continue to pirate and while legislation will make it harder to pirate, it wont remove or prevent it significantly.

  5. There’s a big group of people who pirate who simply wouldn’t buy if they couldn’t pirate. Then there’s a group that buy anyway. Between them, those that pirate now, but would pay if pirating was harder. That’s not a large group… and as pirating gets harder, so does purchasing legally. Which means that more people get driven to piracy…. the content industry will eventually realise that they can’t hold back the tide.

    But since that will cause an entire industry to collapse and rebuild from scratch, we can confidently expect them to do their utmost to hold us to ransom in the meantime, and we’ll have the unedifying spectacle of the fat and famous doing their best to convince us that continuing to shower money on the system that produced them is in *our* best interests (which, sadly, many of the sheep will buy into)

    • “But since that will cause an entire industry to collapse and rebuild from scratch”

      I don’t think that the entertainment industry will not collapse at all. What will collapse is the middlemen gatekeepers such as the RIAA & MPAA, who aren’t involved in the creative process and add nothing at all of value. They’re simply parasites that drive prices up, restrict content and extort money through troll copyright lawsuits. The sooner they die, the better.

  6. I really admire iiNets’ continued push on this issue. Maybe I should drop TPG and give iiNet my money instead.

  7. Pricing digital media more expensively than physical media to me looks like its an idea straight from the content owners ‘genius ideas’ think tank. Why pay $20-30 SD or $30-40 HD from iTunes when you can purchase a Blu-Ray from JB Hi-fi for around $20, often even cheaper with a digital copy thrown in (granted its UV so you end up with yet another media library)?

    • I agree 100%. Was showing my 60+ year old dad how Google Play worked and showed him a few recent movies on the store. Every one was the same price or more expensive than the equivalent physical purchase from JB Hi Fi. There is something innately wrong when an intangible digital object is more expensive than a physical one.

      On a different note, how are Aussies supposed to buy legal digital content when its just not available to us? Netflix & Amazon being the two that immediately come to mind. I’d love to know exactly why we’re blocked from purchasing from them. Where is the problem? The companies side or the govt?

  8. $ signs have always had the capacity to send people blind, in this this case blind to the bleeding obvious.
    Greed is what drives this old fashion mentality but the irony of it all is if they could see the error of their ways and give people what they want they would probably make more money.

  9. iiNet is right. I would buy the bloody content if it was available here without being locked up in a Foxtel subscription service just to access it. A great example is when Apple offered an entire season of GOT for something like $40-45. Thats reasonable, fair and I will pay for it. Why would I download when I have options like that.

    Right now though I have to get Foxtel + premium channel subscription + Foxtel HD to see the same episode at the same quality for something like $100 per month!

    Seriously the AG needs to be pushing reform on the media front and not kowtowing to copyright interests. If we have the content, at a reasonable price, we will pay for it. Don’t they get this?!?!

    Right now we don’t have affordable options and you know what the end result is in this country.

  10. I’m pretty certain they aren’t oblivious to the solution, well, what we all believe the solution to be that is.

    Change is expensive, so why change? they already make substantial amounts of money from their industry, it’s really about maximising profits now.

    The easiest path for them to take, is to lobby the current government, which I’d say they contribute to financially, a donation of course, for which they would ask no favours.

    The government, in turn would be very concerned about protecting the rights of copyright holders, and will tighten legislation even more so, all the while passing on the tab of doing so to the consumer/tax payer.

    Interesting world we live in for sure, but people did vote for this party, right?

  11. I tried to buy some MP3s from Amazon. Blocked from delivery to Aus by the content provider. Quickflix has limited content, so I use Unblockus to access Netflix. And then: Shrek (not available); Matrix (not available); and many others (not available). Even when I want to buy, I can’t . As Damien posts “Dear content owners, please just shut up and take my money!!!”

  12. Does anyone have any links to the (what I assume is) the massive effect of STEAM and other digital distribution methods (EA’s Origin, Blizzard’s Battlenet) have had on computer game piracy? That would be persuasive information to add to any letter writing on this subject I would think.

  13. The thing I hate the most is when you go out and buy a box-set of your favorite TV show that has just been released and then as soon as the show has finished, they release a more “complete” version of the box-set with unaired episodes and other features. What the heck am I going to do with two box-sets of the same show? Give the ‘used’ copy as a gift? Put it on eBay and waste more of my time?

  14. > “We think that content should be made available to Australians at a fair price and at the same time as it is available elsewhere. The Lego Movie for example, was released two months after it opened to rave reviews in the USA. Village Roadshow (The Lego Movie’s local distributors) even came out a month before its local release and complained of piracy, while probably not even looking at why it was being pirated,” he wrote.

    The content owners in Australia believe better to schedule a movie during the school holidays. When you have “perfect” time for family and kids to spend money on a new movie release and apparently movies make more money being opened school holiday. Because everyones interest is peaked

    The lego movie is a good example of this. A movie shelfed until school holidays rather then give less of a chance of success release it within normal release any other day of the year

    However I believe this one of the hidden TPP conditions. Even if you protest and gets 100,000 signatures the law will be still past unless this may a national issue

  15. This is why the industry is frightened and is fighting the consumer:

    All that profit is now being ploughed into original series, paid for from consumer demand. That will snowball. To a point where Netflix, Amazon and so forth become the Content owners. It’s only a matter of time.

    The online model works. It works so incredibly well it’s massively eroding blu-ray, dvd and even cinema sales; the market is simply paying the guy who gives the best outcome.

    The industry missed their shot at embracing a new market, and others have stepped in, instead. Netflix, Apple, Amazon.. all have a huge stake in this and a substantial portion of their combined incomes are tied to online media sales.

    There will always be a percentage of the market who will not pay for use (at any price). But to claim it’s the sole cause of traditional delivery decline is demonstrably false. And has been for a very long time.

    This is an attempt to stall for time. Nothing more. And the bitch of it is, there’s simply no reason to prop up an industry that missed the boat.

  16. It’s worth noting, though, that Netflix, Amazon et-all took a big financial risk. Loses have been accrued in the process. But that’s the thing. They took the financial punt, banking on long-term payback.

    It’s very evident that the traditional model owners had no interest in taking any such risk. In fact they actively tried to shut such services down.

    I wonder now, how long it will be, before we start seeing Netflix, et-all not only commissioning original content, but actively start buying franchises; i’m betting we’ll see this happen increasingly in just a few years.

  17. Simple fix. Iinet just need to make the default plan for their internet NAT based. Share one external IP between 5 or 10 homes, then offer to give each of those 5 names to content owners for free.

    Good luck successfully prosecuting a case against any one of those 5 names.

    Iinet can then allow people to upgrade (for free) to their own static IP, and if you need it, presumably you also know how to actually use it.

  18. Can we have the contact details for the key politicians that people should be mailing?

    I’d like to pursue this with the Federal member for my region and also ensure a copy goes to the Sen Ludlam and Turnbull.

  19. Someone should ask Brandis if he knows what a proxy server is :)

    I can’t understand why the content producers can’t see that making the content available universally, at the same time and at the same price, would probably increase their revenue. But I’m not just talking about he movie makers, the TV stations need to do the same thing.

    The same applies to software and e-books.

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