iiNet Wants You To Lobby The Government On Piracy

"Make your voices known." Tell your elected official that you want TV shows and movies for a reasonable price, without restrictive lock-in contracts, at the same time as the rest of the world. That's the message from iiNet, in a blog post by its chief regulatory officer Steve Dalby.

In a post published yesterday entitled What's The Issue With Piracy In Australia?, Dalby talks about iiNet's view of the current state of piracy in Australia, what can be done to curb the problem, and how Australia's second largest ISP thinks rights-holders and governments should react.

iiNet and Dalby are unashamedly on the side of the company's customers. But Dalby is also upfront about his and iiNet's attitude to solving the problem of piracy in Australia, and about the current government's Draconian proposals to clamp down on both ISPs and consumers.

Australia's current Attorney-General, minister George Brandis, says Australians are the "worst in the world" for copyright infringement and illegal downloading of TV shows and movies. The government's likely plan is to both require ISPs to send infringment notices directly to its customers and to block sites the government believes allow access to infringing content — and iiNet's thoughts are clear: "We believe the Government is heading down the wrong path."

Dalby goes to pains to say that the ISP doesn't condone piracy "in any way, shape or form" — the argument is around the process that the government is taking to combat that piracy. The three suggestions that have been mooted since the end of the iiNet versus AFACT trial — including 'three strikes' and blocking access to sites — are covered in the blog post, with Dalby saying that none hold water when put to the test.

iiNet is itself a content provider with a hat in the ring; it runs a Fetch TV service delivering television and movies over IPTV, bundled with home broadband and phone line rental in the same way as Telstra's T-Box offering.

There are some great, straightforward statements in Steve Dalby's blog post that point to why piracy is apparently rampant, and how other countries have addressed it, and how Australia should. You should read the entire thing, but here are some excerpts:

"It is an acknowledged fact that the American market has seen a reduction in file sharing at the same time that content has been become available. The pattern of US traffic Internet now depends on what content is made available via legitimate distribution channels like Netflix, rather than on the Pirate Bay."

"Put simply, Australians want their content at the same time as the rest of the world. It isn’t that our customers don’t want to pay for content, it’s that they want to be able to access content at the same time as their Facebook friends or Twitter followers."

"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."

"We think that content should be made available to Australians at a fair price and at the same time as it is available elsewhere."

iiNet's suggestions are simple enough in print. When Foxtel scooped Game of Thrones exclusivity, prices rose from $24 per season (through iTunes) to a minimum $44.95 per month. That's in line with a rise in piracy of the show. The LEGO Movie is another example — delays in availability, massive piracy. When content is easily available, at a fair price and within a reasonable time frame, piracy is less likely to occur — without excessive legislation needed.

To that end, Dalby wants you — the Australian consumer, whether you're a regular or one-time pirate or whether you've never illegally downloaded before — to "make your voice known" and write a letter or email to the Australian government, telling them that you believe lower prices and increased availability is the solution to Australia's copyright infringement problem.

iiNet obviously has vested interests in this fight, of course, but if you value the status quo or want to see your favourite shows and movies more easily available online, getting your opinion heard by the people in power is a great idea. [iiNet]

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