news Advocacy group Internet Australia has said that despite the “huffing and puffing” from Australia-based representatives of overseas content rights holders, Australia is not on the US Government’s official content piracy watchlist.
The group pointed to the Office of the United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) annual Special 301 report on the adequacy and effectiveness of its trading partners’ protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights.
The document reveals that Australia is not listed on either the US’s Priority Watchlist or the Watchlist.
“It’s looking suspiciously like we are being dragged into a global fight against a problem that we have very little to do with in reality,” said Laurie Patton, CEO of Internet Australia.
However, last week Australia once again topped the list of countries breaching copyright by downloading HBO’s Game of Thrones TV show from BitTorrent sites, despite it being legitimately available via local licensee Foxtel.
The Internet Australia statement follows a Productivity Commission report recommending an end to geoblocking, which it identified as one of the key reasons for people unlawfully downloading video and audio content.
Geoblocking is used to restrict access to web content and products on international websites based on users’ locations.
Karen Chester, a commissioner with the Productivity Commission, told ABC that geoblocking restrictions actually have the opposite effect of encouraging internet piracy.
“Making copyright material more accessible and more competitively priced online, and not geoblocking, is the best antidote to copyright infringement,” she said.
Patton commented: “It is abundantly clear that, to the extent that Australians are unlawfully downloading copyrighted content, it is largely because it is not available through more legitimate means.”
He went on to say there is “ample research evidence” that people are willing to pay for content if it is made accessible.
“Some surveys have shown that the people who ‘pirate’ are also among the most active legal downloaders”, he said.
Internet Australia said video streaming service Netflix has enjoyed “considerable success” since entering the Australian market last year. Further, two local content-streaming platforms, Presto and Stan, are both seeing healthy numbers of subscribers.
“This tells you that there is pent-up demand for the very content that, otherwise, is subject to unlawful downloading,” said Patton said.
Internet Australia has launched a campaign to have the current geoblocking legislation repealed using the Twitter hashtag #WeAreNotTheProblem.