The Australian government is trying to give Captain Obvious a run for his money, with a new partial report on intellectual property and piracy in the country. Its findings suggest that piracy is driven by lack of access to legal channels and “sheer frustration” on the part of consumers.
The so-called Productivity Commission has put out its initial findings on the issue of piracy in Australia, calling the country’s current IP system broken and unbalanced. The Commission is recommending a “new, principles-based, fair use exception” be added to the law, as well as calling for prioritization of the public’s rights.
According to the report, the problem of online infringement of copyright, which is deemed rampant in Australia, is mainly caused by lack of legal ways to access content, as well as draconian laws and punishments against the average consumer. As commissioner Karen Chester put it, the consumer is driven to piracy due to “sheer frustration from poor access”. She also said:
The best antidote to copyright infringement is accessible and competitively-priced online content, not draconian penalties and big brother enforcement.
Another big issue is that of geoblocking. The Commission found that this is one of the big drivers of piracy, thanks to existing IP laws that are skewed in favor of powerful content creators and countries like the US.
Game of Thrones, which is consistently one of the most pirated shows in the world, especially in Australia, is given as an example of the problem as well as an example of a possible solution. When the popular HBO show premiered last week on a paid subscription channel, it instantly became the most watched show on subscriptions Australian TV, and the channel’s viewership exploded. However, it still also remained the number one pirated show in the country.
Chester said that Netflix, HBO and other content providers and creators need to create easier ways for users to legally access content, and that the government needs to fight against geoblocking and protect its citizens’ interests in this area. Geoblocking, the practice of limiting viewership to specific countries, has become an important issue in recent years, with many users using VPNs and other means of bypassing the limitation. Companies are trying to fight against this using ever more sophisticated technology. But there’s strong evidence showing that when users have affordable and timely access to content piracy drops dramatically, so perhaps there’s an easier way to combat this that also benefits consumers.
The final report comes out this August and here’s hoping the Australian government takes heed and does what is best for its citizens.
Editor's Note: This article was updated to reflect the fact that Game of Thrones was the most watched shows on Australian paid subscription TV, not TV in general.
Source: The Guardian