Leaked: Australian Government Plan To Deal With Piracy

Attorney General George Brandis has been banging his head against his desk for months now trying to figure out how to stop pirates stealing content in Australia. Thanks to a leak of the government's upcoming discussion paper on the topic, we now know what the AG plans on introducing.

Crikey leaked the government's "Online Copyright Infringement Discussion Paper" this afternoon, and it shows that all the moves we expected -- and a few more -- will likely be employed to combat piracy.

Affordability And Availability

Industry submissions from the likes of Google and others have all pointed to the same problem when it comes to piracy: the price of content in Australia is too damn high, and it takes ages to get here.

In the new entertainment economy, users want content faster and for better value when compared to the prices of overseas streaming services. Instead, we're saddled with streaming services that cost top dollar and long waits for content.

Content creators and relevant industry groups which have been lobbying the government on piracy for years now have gone on record saying that they don't believe in the pricing and availability problem, but despite their posturing, the government now sees the issue too.

In its leaked discussion paper, the government freely admits in the first sentence of its introduction that there's a real content problem in Australia:

"There are a number of factors that contribute to online copyright infringement in Australia. These factors include the availability and affordability of lawful content, the case with which consumers can access unlawful material and consumer awareness of legitimate services," the government wrote.

Translation? Aussies wait too long, pay too much, pirate too often and don't know about decent legal streaming services.

So what does the government plan to do about all that, then? Well, not much. Unsurprisingly, the government would rather hit you with a stick than lure you with a carrot.

Site Blocking

It has been anticipated for some time that the government would pursue site blocking measures in order to cut down on Piracy. Now we know for sure that the government wants to kill access to sites like The Pirate Bay from Aussie connections.

In a section headed "Extended injunctive relief to block infringing overseas sites", the government details how it would like to see rights-holders given the power to sue ISPs to block sites offering "infringing material":

"A...provision in Australian law could enable rights holders to take action to block access to a website offering infringing material without the need to establish that a particular ISP has authorised an infringement. If adopted, any proposed amendment would be limited to websites operated outside Australia as rights holders are not prevented from taking direct action against websites operated within Australia," the government wrote.

To save time, the government would allow rights holders to sue multiple ISPs at the one time to ensure they all block access to a particular "infringing" site in Australia.

"Such a power would clarify that a rights-holder may list a number of ISPs as respondents to an application for injunctive relief. This would reduce the opportunity for people to 'evade' the operation of such orders by switching ISPs. The websites would need to be blocked by carrier level ISPs at the wholesale level, ensuring that re-sellers would be unable to make blocked sites available to subscribers."

To get a site blocked in Australia, the court would have to be convinced by use of evidence presented by rights-holders that the primary function of any site in question would be to distributed copyrighted material. The court would then take into account the rights of those being affected by the site blocking proposal if it were to pass, and "the importance of freedom of expression".

The good news about potential site blocking schemes is that the government is prepared to make rights-holders to pay for the process.

"Rights-holders would be required to meet any reasonable costs associated with an ISP giving effect to an order and to indemnify the ISP against any damages claimed by a third party.

Because it's a discussion paper, the government wants the industry to respond to particular questions. Elsewhere in the paper, the government will ask whether the industry thinks the proposed plan is appropriate. In the instance of site-blocking, the government has already assumed it's a solid idea and pressed on to ask responders to consider what a court should take into account when determining whether or not to block a site.

Site blocking appears to be coming to a Copyright Act near you, whether the industry likes it or not.


The discussion paper also proposes overturning the crucial iiNet vs Village Roadshow decision to comply with various Free Trade agreements with the US and South Korea.

One particular paragraph in the yet-to-be ratified Free-Trade Agreement between Australia and South Korea references a need to amend the Copyright Act to "provide a legal incentive for online service providers to cooperate with copyright owners in preventing infringement due to the High Court’s decision in Roadshow Films Pty Ltd v iiNet Ltd, which found that ISPs are not liable for authorising the infringements of subscribers".

iiNet’s long-running and contentious Federal and High Court trial against Roadshow Films and AFACT established a legal precedent that ISPs should not be liable for the actions of their users in illegally accessing and downloading content that infringes the copyright of media rights-holders.

The KAFTA, it seems, requires that this legal precedent be nullified and the Copyright Act be amended to require ISPs to actively assist copyright holders — likely in identifying alleged pirates, sharing their details with the allegedly aggrieved media companies and forwarding those companies’ infringement notices to end users.

The government anti-piracy discussion paper makes it abundantly clear that the government is looking to overturn the iiTrial decision:

The High Court's decision in Roadshow Films PTY LTD & Ors v iiNet LTD [2012] HCA 16 (20 April 2012 determined that the ISP, iiNet, was not liable for authorising the copyright infringements of its subscribers using systems that iiNet did not operate or control, and that there were no reasonable steps that could have been taken by iiNet to reduce its subscribers' infringements. The effect of the decision is to severely limit the circumstances in which an ISP can be found liable for authorising an act by a subscriber that infringes copyright.
The Government believes that even where an ISP does not have a direct power to prevent a person from doing a particular infringing act, there still may be reasonable steps that can be taken by the ISP to discourage or reduce online copyright infringement.
Extending authorisation liability is essential to ensuring the existence of an effective legal framework that encourages industry cooperation and functions as originally intended, and this is consistent with Australia's international obligations.

iiNet's Steve Dalby says the company will wait for the official release of the document before commenting.

Pirate Trackers

To make sure that any anti-piracy scheme is working, the government would look to the industry to track the amount of content being pirated in Australia.

"A particular challenge with addressing online copyright infringement is the absence of a commonly accepted approach for quantifying the volume and impact of such infringement. This is important for the Government but even more important for industry as it seeks to develop its own approaches to address the problem.

"It is also essential that industry schemes and commercial arrangements incorporate ongoing monitoring and evaluation to ensure that the approach is reducing online copyright infringement to a sufficient degree to justify the impact of the measure imposed. This will also enable potential future improvements to be identified, which can be implemented through revised schemes and arrangements -- a key benefit of the flexibility of the proposed approach."

Wait, didn't AG Brandis say that Australia was the worst country for piracy in the world? How did he know that for sure, I wonder...?

Don't Panic

This document lays out a pretty bleak future for Australian content lovers. The government knows there's a content and pricing problem -- it even goddamn said so in its paper -- but it hasn't laid out a plan to adequately tackle the issue. Too much stick, not enough carrot.

But don't panic: we aren't all screwed yet.

The important thing to remember about this document is that it's a Discussion Paper: it isn't a legal document, it's not about to passed into law in its current form, nor are you about to have your door kicked in by the Feds for pirating Game Of Thrones' fourth season.

This is a document that's about to be circulated to the industry for comment, and you can have your say too once it's officially released.

What do you think of the government's work combatting piracy so far? Will the proposals laid out effectively cut piracy rates? Let us know in the comments.

Campbell Simpson also contributed to this report.



    summary : more power to publishers & distributors, big kick in the genitals for consumers who are just gonna have to deal with shitty access conditions & high prices.

      I'm going to ride a wave of potentially induced optimism.

      Perhaps this will encourage more Australian indi's to start making their own movies, games, music etc, even more so than we already are. If they do, then release their content cheaply and consistently, we might be able to kick-start our content creation industry by a large amount.

      Then we can over-charge the shit out of the other countries.

      Last edited 25/07/14 4:46 pm

        cool story bro

        are your indie producers going to give me Game of thrones on demand and for cheap?

          Not at all. Then again. Neither are their producers. So you can't win.

          The real question is, are you going to support local talent that lobbies against this shit, or support the large international companies that lobby for this shit?

          Last edited 26/07/14 9:19 am

            I don't care who made it, where it came from who who releases. Only that it is made available in a timely manner and bears a reasonable price. Who cares if it's Australian or Austrian? It is about the actual content, not where it hails from.

              No. This is about fighting against the people who are paying lots of money to get these kind of laws enforced world wide.

              By buying their aforementioned shit, you're giving them the money they need to ensure you don't see it cheaply or timely. By pirating it, you're giving them the arguments they're using currently for the implementation of these laws.

              By supporting a strong indi entertainment industry in Australia. You only strengthen our ability to lobby against these kinds of laws and weaken the international stranglehold on the system.

                What part of: Only that it is made available in a timely manner and bears a reasonable price. -Arichfiend did you not understand?

                Regarding you comment, If I'm wrong I apologise. Your argument seems to object to purchasing from large corporations even if they're reasonably priced and delivered in a timely manner with wide availability.

                Rather, you would want people to preferably purchase content from independent studios, regardless of quality and content?

                Last edited 27/07/14 8:02 pm

                  The parts about "timely manor" and "reasonable price". Sorry. I'm Australian, rural at that. I know not the meaning of these terms.

            except i can get it cheaper and faster if i was a US resident

            so it is possible

            thats the whole point

            Option 3: Show the large international companies that they don't actually have the power they think they do, that their lobbying is in vain (since the piracy will continue unabated - and perhaps increase out of spite - after the introduction of this bullshit), and they need to adapt or die.

            Last edited 28/07/14 8:24 am

              Option 4: Send hard earned money for products over seas and for local distributors into a 1983 style video game crash to the local industry will finally be rest.

              The honest truth is, our current entertainment industry (specifically the home media and distribution aspects) is beyond repair and the cheaper option is to let it crash (or pre-empt the inevitable crash) rather than repair/adapt it.

        Great optimism except if you'd been reading about the changes the government recently you'd discover there's very little to no incentive at all for indi games companies or Aussie film makers.

        Government slashed the indi game incentives ENTIRELY from the budget, so even if you had a good idea you'll need to rely on a kickstarter method to get it off the ground.

        The filmaking industry here is a freakin dinosaur with the last memorable title being produced being the matrix IIRC.

          I have been reading. A lot. Since well before the last election.

          The games fund they cut required you to already have two established games, IIRC. The fund was a start, by no means a saving grace for Indis.

            I never said it was saving grace i said it was "incentive".

      I feel that by blocking access to low end pirates (general consumer who do not really know much about tech) It will open up an industry for bootlegging in Australia. I remember before limewire hit the mainstream there were guys selling burnt music discs at our school for $5 a pop. If the main issue and cause isn't resolved (Poor quality service from the industry), then the greedy assholes trying to push these laws are really self inflicting their own wounds and opening up a new market for i-criminals.

      What I find unbelievable is the fact they think these measures are going to work.

      I say fuck em all. I don't like piracy but I do like watching things fall to pieces.

        I think there is a good degree of truth in what you are saying here.
        This will, along with all other tech related policies of the govt of the day, be a complete failure, result in the Australian consumer paying even more of the Australia tax for content, and ultimately have to be reworked when they finally realise how ignorant they have been.

          So... When they're voted out an a new government of the day is established? Much like everything else the LNP is doing.

            I don't understand what you are saying here. "Govt of the day" refers to current govt.

              We're in a future context here. "voted out LNP..."

                I agree, nothing will get repealed in this space once it gets through the houses, regardless of govt in. Maybe some softening when they work out eventually what the uk has worked out, and that foxtel doesn't all of a sudden starts making millions of dollars more that they claim they have lost to piracy...

                Last edited 27/07/14 7:35 pm

        When the Government talks about piracy being a revenue source for organised crime, that's largely from bootlegging of physical DVDs. Restricting online piracy will not affect that at all, and will probably push some of the "free" online piracy out to the physical world where people are paying real criminals to do the piracy for them.


    So, with such laws in place, they could block youtube with ease.

    I only see this leading to a situation in where, the people with knowledge to bypass any restrictions, and illegally download content, will make money from it as they sell the content to people who can not bypass the restrictions.

    Which will lead to more arrests too.

    GG content industry :)

      Not with ease at all, as you would have to prove that the main use for YouTube is illegally distributing copyrighted material.

        You have difficulty reading. Just like how you can have private meetings with Liberal MPs so they will push any law you make up, you can pay to have websites blocked.

          I think you're overstating in when you say any law. There are limits to what people will tolerate, and losing YouTube would not be a popular move.

            As opposed to.....? I don't know if you've noticed, but almost everything this government has been as far from popular as you can get.

              Unpopular with you and I and those we associate with perhaps, but not with everyone - particularly when you talk about asset selling, privatisation, and immigration policy.
              (I get your point, though: things need to be very, very unpopular before people will actually take action outside of the basic electoral cycle to change things, and even then many can't stomach strikes and the like.)

              @vj9c9 makes an excellent point. Almost everyone I know voted if not FOR one party, then AGAINST the current government party. And yet, here we are.
              This says more about the people I associate with than it does about party popularity. Confirmation bias means that since that's the opinion I see everywhere, I extrapolate and assume it's popular elsewhere as well.

              And to complicate matters, it doesn't actually mean that 50% of the country were in support either, though it'd be nice if things were that simple.

              What an electoral result means is that enough electorates got filled past 50% with shit. The majority of votes - gross - might be non-shit, but if they're all centralized into too few electorates, then all that non-shit is wasted. With a clever approach to targeting specific electorates, it's possible to elect a government that's not even popular with 50% of the nation. (Whether that's what actually happened in our last election or not is a different story.)

                A really problematic side-effect of the fact that we'll tend to be surrounded by people with broadly similar political views is that it is really hard to have a discussion in which you can explore the alternative (or opposing) viewpoints and the limitations of your own views. The internet could be good for that, but it is really hard to get past the vitriol and dehumanisation which tends to appear on forums.

                That issue of '50% of electorates' vs '50% of votes' is why having a two-house system is so important. It is very difficult (but not impossible) for someone other than a representative of one of the two major parties to get a seat in the lower house simply because the majority of votes go to those two parties. However, because being voted into the senate is based on a quota system the senate tends to be a much closer representation of the actual votes than the lower house (dubious deal-making of senate preferences aside, which I will be more than happy to see die).

                In the absence of a two-house system, you get a winner-takes-all effect which lends itself to unchecked implementation of buying influence (and obviously dodgy legislation).

                  it is really hard to have a discussion in which you can explore the alternative (or opposing) viewpoints and the limitations of your own views.
                  Not to mention that any attempt to play devil's advocate as an intellectual exercise can see you crucified by emotion-ruled people who mistakenly believe that you are taking 'the other side' instead of rationally investigating all the angles. Or worse, who believe that there shouldn't be any examination in the first place.

                  (Removed by author. Also, what's with the random moderation that takes ages?)

                  Last edited 28/07/14 10:19 am

                  @transientmind I'm actually struggling with issues of setting aside my own biases and examining the real issues trying to road Freeloading: How Our Insatiable Hunger for Free Content Starves Creativity by Chris Ruen (2012). I think I'm going to have to read it twice: once to get out my anger at where I feel the author misrepresents people like Lawrence Lessig (who started Creative Commons) and when he uses bad rhetorical flourish rather than providing justification, and a second time to actually appreciate what good arguments there are in the book.

                  Next on my reading list on this particular topic is Information Feudalism: Who Owns the Knowledge Economy? (2003) and Lessig's classic Free Culture (also 2003?).

                  The author of Information Feudalism has provided an uncorrected proof of the book freely from the Books page of his ANU site.
                  Lessig offers a free download of his book from the free content page of the Free Culture site.
                  Chris Ruen doesn't provide any free access to his book (but of course, unlike the others he doesn't have the income of being an academic).

                  In terms of playing devil's advocate: there is a really interesting strategy which I've heard of in technology design and development where at each design meeting people either take turns at being devil's advocate or someone is randomly selected (via dice roll or something relatively random) once per meeting and the role of that person is to look for and identify faults. Because the person is chosen randomly and everyone has a turn (and has no choice), it depersonalises the role and so means that the devil's advocate can bring up concerns and problems without having others get angry at them personally so much.
                  I've never tried it, but it actually sounds like a great idea.

    Summary: Couldn't care less what the government has in store. Can't provide infringements for traffic you can't track/analyse. Good luck trying to block people from accessing websites as well, the governments belief that they will be able to do so is astounding. I download content on a daily basis as it takes way too long for it to become available here, however I always go out and buy a boxed set or such when they are finally available.

      The crazy thing is that the same tool that will be used to gain access to "blocked" sites (ie Tor/VPN) will also hide the identity and location of Pirates.
      Also expect to see a big spike in use of the service no-one wants to talk about despite not at all being a secret!
      In all there will be a measurable decline in (detectable) piracy despite no change to the total bytes traversing the International Data pipes.

        Perversely, this drop in detectable traffic could well see the plan hailed as a resounding success.

    I'd like them to just put in the same pricing (allow for currency conversion if that helps) for digital distribution. It doesn't cost the mark-up amount that occurs to distribute here from digital distribution so the cost of a movie or a show shouldn't be 3x that of overseas.

    I would wager that if this one thing was done the amount of piracy would half. There would still be other limiting factors for distribution but just the price thing alone is a massive contributor. Secondary to waiting given that we aren't in an age where things need to by flown in by biplane any more.

      Of course it costs more to do business here than in other countries. Sure, the actual content distribution is the same but there is more to running a business than just putting stuff on a server. These companies mostly have a local office and will almost certainly have a local law firm on retainer at local rates. To suggest that US customers should subsidise your prices when you are likely earning twice as much as they are is a bit much, I reckon. You simply need to stop looking at the world through the blinders of your own self-interest.

        How about this as an example;

        Netflix opens up in Aus. Using your information, every single cost is doubled so therefore the cost to use the service is doubled, hell for this example, due to it not having millions of subs lets say the cost to use the service is 2.5x the cost of US.

        Netflix US - US$9/month (AU$9.50)
        Netflix AUS - AU$23.75 (@2.5x)

        Even with a markup like this, Netflix would still be FAR better value than our current offerings.

        Netflix $23.75 (Completely on demand with no ads -All content unlocked)
        Foxtel Play $25-50 (Scheduled programming with ads - Pay more to access more content)

        I know what I would be happy to pay for.....

          Netflix is pretty much the only service I pay for that I feel I am under charged for. I think $25/month actually makes a lot of sense.

      The aptly-named guest takes it too far, but does have a point. There IS a cost to operating in another country, even if you were only distributing digitally. You typically need to factor in the cost of advertising and legals to check compliance with local laws; bare minimum.
      Of course the other side to this is that for a purely digital venture, those costs would in no way whatsoever justify the mark-up we see in 'Australia Tax' for digital goods.

      But nothing exists in a vacuum. Many of the worst offenders commit these acts of profiteering aren't offering digital-only services, and thus need to involve retail. This marks things up considerably, and can necessitate having a physical presence, increasing costs again. To make matters worse, in order to gain access to the physical retail market, they're also under pressure by retails to price-match their digital to their retail, so consumers have more incentive to buy physical.

      It's a demand from the retailers, but since it suits the publishers/distributors quite well to scoop up such a ridiculous mark-up in profit on their digital sales, they don't really need their arms twisted.

      Additionally, this might require insider information, but I strongly suspect that digital sales are still segmented by region, such that a region's performance and budget is handled separately. So if it costs money to maintain a physical presence in Australia for handling retail, the Australian digital sales are going to count toward that region's stats, and probably, budget. So when they decide the price of Australian digital, they factor in the cost of maintaining an Australian presence, legal compliance, and paying for Australian advertising.

      Treating digital as region-free and as not requiring a few hundred different advertising budgets per country would probably simplify at least one part of the equation and help set a standardized market price for this new-fangled global distribution platform we're using, but it's just not in their interests when they have to factor in:
      1) Costs of servicing different regions.
      2) Increasing costs of digital to keep retailers happy about their competition
      3) Profiteering
      4) They can simply have one of those lawyers-on-retainer (the same ones who check for local legal compliance) to ask politicians why their country isn't enforcing its laws.

      Lotta moving parts, more complicated than, "They should do [solution] and everyone wins." Sadly.

    Coincidentally, my favourite Blockbuster and the only rental place near enough to be convenient, announced today it is closing down..! Think I might have to set my VPN to autostart and just shut the lot of 'em out..!!

    I'm having a vision. It's TOR nodes. TOR nodes everywhere.

      Sure, but won't work for torrenting, streaming, or preventing geoblocking. It's just too damn slow.

        I thought the more nodes in service, the faster it gets?

          It will never be fast enough to do those things though, especially with the shitty infrastructure here in Aus.

          Also, in order to operate an exit node, you have to expose yourself to the possibility that people are going to use it to look up kiddie porn etc, which depending on where you live, may put you in danger of prosecution. Not only that, but many ISPs have policies against it in their TOS.

          Given all of that I can't see too many people actually operating it.


    Gonna point out the obvious here but that is just amazing.

    We know there is a problem in pricing and availability, but instead of addressing these issues and potentially upsetting foxtel here is how we plan to bend you over the table.

    So get a VPN that won't keep logs & use https:// at the beginnning over everyone of "those websites". Not one of these arrogant-ignorant politicians knows squat about Virtual Private Networks. Just find one that doens't retain logs & you will be safer & some programs may even vind to bit torrent software. It costs no more really then paying a phone provider in Australia (even American dollars) for the service. The ISPs won't be able to maintain the cost of retaining the data anyway so chances are it may never happen. Stephen Conroy wasted so much of Australian Tax Dollars on this & none of it worked. Even people get around the "Great Firewall of China" using TOR if then needed to. Australia just doesn't have the technical know how, money or will to get internet blocked the way they want. On a related tangent look at how much these movies & TV shows make online & legal sales. People still have their jobs at JB HIFI & other such places & in fact they seem to have a ton of staff there as people are always prepared for the real deal. In some countries it works fine both ways with no loss to the industry. The government is going to waste more money on this where its better left alone & they just focus on the uploaders of "illegal content".

    This approach the Govt. is trying to take is going to be about as effective and costly as their attempts to stifle prostitution and drugs.
    If people want something, they're going to find a way of getting it. It happens all the time.
    Tech savvy users will easily outwit the blockhead politicians.
    I seriously wonder if Brandis even understands how data is transmitted in the first place.
    So, no. I'm not concerned in the least.
    That and the fact that there's nothing worth pirating these days anyway in my opinion.
    TV and movies are all crap lately anyway.

    This makes me want to pirate more, maybe I should cancel my Netflix and Hulu accounts and get pro at hiding my arse pirating again?

    They just need to free up the agreements which prevent netflix being able to compete in the Australia. Forget the rest, I have netflix via VPN, any downloading has almost reduced to zero.

    As for pirating games, it has been a long time since I have done anything of that sort, mainly thanks to the Steam sales. Its too cheap not to be legitimate.

    If content providers were willing to follow Valve's lead, online distribution and massive regular savings, this wouldn't happen. Imagine an apple store version of the steam sale. It would be bedlam.

      I agree with you. Steam made piracy more trouble than it's worth. I even went back and bought the games I pirated as a kid, because they were there and I had money at the time.

        I have a fever dream that Steam TV will be a reality, and I'll have fast, reliable access to downloading any shitty indie/oldschool programming that I've purchased at bargain basement prices on sale in my own-for-life/move-to-any-device-you-like library, at will.

        I see a Steam-like future of '80s week!' movie sales, and French animation studio bundles that sell me the nostalgia of all my favourite childhood cartoons that I buy then don't watch.

        Games on Steam: Fast, easy, cheap. People buy more than they actually end up playing.
        TV/movies: Restricted, overpriced, delayed, inflexible formats, stuffed with ads. People watch more than you paid for.

        It doesn't take a brain surgeon to see which one is the winning proposition.

          I, too, really like Steam and I think Steam TV would indeed be a winner.

          I think it is worth pointing out, though, that video and audio piracy is easier than video game piracy in some ways. Video games which incorporate an online multiplayer component can be very difficult indeed to crack because you can use on-machine checks for things like cracks in the same way that on-machine checks are done for aimbots and so on.
          Even with games that don't have an online component, there are periodic patch releases and each of them will need to be cracked, users running pirated copies who want those patches must find the cracked patch, and the patch must be applied to a cracked copy so the patch itself might need to be modified for that to work. On top of that, it isn't necessarily easy to tell if a pirated copy of a game is really working correctly or not: there are (occasionally) cases where part of the game works but then it breaks at some stage in the game.

          Anyway, what I'm saying is that switching from piracy to Steam can represent a very large decrease in effort for users, so there is a very clear value to using Steam.
          With video and music, it is (currently) pretty easy to tell what is or is not a complete copy - you'll find out when you listen to or watch it all the way through the first time. There aren't updates, so there isn't ongoing effort. Once you've worked out how to copy from a source, then it becomes easy to copy a bunch of things (for a ripper). In contrast, games are likely to have greater variation in the cracking involved and so have higher skill requirements to crack.

          Not to say that a Steam for TV and Music wouldn't work - I think it probably would. Hell, look at Spotify: music is easy as hell to rip, but the value is so good that it isn't worth pirating rather than paying for Spotify. However, pirating video and audio media is (I think) easier than pirating games so the incremental benefit to using a Steam TV vs pirating wouldn't be as great as Steam games vs pirating.

          I feel like that was the worst explanation I could produce for what I mean, but I think I got my price across.

            Nah, it works. I've said forever that consumers value quality of product, ease of access/flexibility, availability, and price. When you win on all the other points, price becomes less important, and the genius of the Steam sales is turning it into almost a non-factor.

            Whereas TV/movies are... well. When they're pirated, they're in their purest, most flexible form, with a few poor encoding exceptions. No ads, no bullshit, put it on any device you want. ...Depending on the rip.

            Those are the things where the official product would need to win.

            Availability: When you pirate movies/TV, you're at the mercy of seeders/popularity. Small, shitty titles you honestly can't remember the name of, etc, aren't going to be easily acquired and might even take several days if the only seeder is some 56k modem running in a Russian basement. Steam servers are fast and almost always online, and don't care about how unpopular your library item is, it'll be delivered just as fast.

            Accessibility/Flexibility: Harder to nail. This is where I see an opportunity for putting a SteamTV app across multiple devices and letting the app handle the file conversion process for appropriate formats so that it works first time every time and you don't have to fuck about with encoding tools and similar. There's no point to spending 15min encoding a 20min show to get it to work on your tablet, so this is an area where Steam could do the legwork that people didn't even know they needed.

            Quality: No-brainer. A lot of rips get rated on the Audio/Visual and not always making 10. With studio involvement and heavy testing, similar to what new games on the platform undergo now, it should definitely be possible to bypass all the potential codec issues that can crop up, and get studio-endorsed 10/10 A/V, including download options for DD, HD, various aspects etc. Same as what you'd get from a DVD/BR.

            Price: The studios would NEED to take a hit to what they're used to for this to work, but Steam's always shown how it works for games. Granted, part of this is that the value in massive sales is that friends see what their friends are playing and buy full price post-sale, which dramatically extends the tail of a sale. But even the 'must buy now' impulse purchases are responsible for a massive revenue boost and Valve has the stats to prove it. It'd take the studios having to get their heads around such a counter-intuitive idea (to them) for it to work.

            Then there's the 'value add'. Having your library indefinitely accessible means you don't have to worry about storage again, ever. It's always going to be there. The social aspect, linking in your friends on the platform so you know who's viewing what? Pretty useful for 'which ep are you up to?' I'm sure they can think of more.

              I essentially agree with you on all points, but particularly on the point that flexibility is really important. As you say, a downloaded movie or show is ultimately versatile: it has no DRM so you can play it on basically anything that has adequate hardware, and if you really need to you can re-encode for other devices. A compelling offering would have to be flexible enough that you don't lose out on features from using it. (Again, Spotify is great for this. It has an API you can use if you're a paying user, so there are XMBC add-ons to support it. It works on desktop, Android, iOS. It has offline support so you can load up with music in advance. It covers an awful lot of music.)

              I also think one big problem is 'legit' media use is finding the media. There are numerous product offerings out there, and if you want to go find a particular show or movie, or even find which service has something popular... well this classic TheOatmeal comic covers the experience of that hunt well.

              I shudder slightly at the thought that Steam TV might incorporate 'Achievements' for watching particular movies: 'You got the Awkward RomCom Guy Achievement!'

                Fair point. Steam's storefront/discoverability could use a lot of work. It's great for finding the 'latest and greatest' in the week of its release, sometimes half-week, but for anything else? Pain in the ass to navigate.
                'People also bought' links, 'recommended for you' and custom community tags are helpful, and reviews are especially useful when it comes to the likely multi-hour investment of games, but rife for abuse with TV/movies.

                (Also, I would personally get a kick out of TV/movie achievements. There's plenty of room for fun meta-commentary in there.)

                  Sorry, I wasn't clear. My complaint about finding media wasn't about Steam, but rather about the current (dis)array of services. If I want to find a movie - particularly one that isn't very well known or foreign - I have to check each of a bunch of services to see if they have it (e.g. iTunes, Google Play, QuickFlix, Presto, BigPond, and that's not all of them).

                  I think a lot of people would really enjoy the achievements, actually. I was mainly being facetious about what some of them might be.

                  Last edited 28/07/14 4:16 pm

      Don't forget that Steam has not only local servers, but servers that are hosted by the big 3 ISPs that are in the freezone of each, meaning the only limit for low cap people are hard drive space (and bandwidth)

    What I just read was "Here's a dumb solution to fix a problem the rest of the developed world has already sorted out. We'll make it even harder for people to get stuff they actually want to pay for. And we'll make sure the content they want will be really expensive because the copyright owners can price it however they want and still shove copious amounts of advertising down the peoples throats."

    Last edited 25/07/14 5:03 pm

    How can so many seemingly intelligent people be so freakin brain dead when it comes to this issue? IT WON'T WORK. All these companies have achieved over the last few years is to piss off their own customers time and time again. Heaven forbid you actually want to pay for something in this country, as they make it harder and harder to justify. Here's something I'd like write to them.

    Dear Movie and TV industry,

    Your business model is broken; it no longer provides a product that suits the needs of your customers, and is now fundamentally anti-consumer. Your old world attitudes to distribution channels and regional licensing are not relevant in the global community of 2014. Your costs, whilst real, are inflated by a system that is no longer realistic (stop paying movie stars 20 million, they don't deserve it). You must adapt, and here some ideas: -

    You must let go of all the hate, it leads to anger, and ultimately the dark side.

    You must let go of your old business model and revenue stream, it was great whilst it lasted, but you can't nickel and dime consumers and expect them to stay with you when given an alternative.

    You must look up the word RESPECT in the dictionary, or at least listen to Aretha, and give it to your customers.

    You must partner constructively with network providers to make content accessible, fast, and free from restrictive download limits. FYI, suing the network providers to get what you want cannot be considered constructive.

    You must licence and price your content fairly and equitably. I want a licence to the CONTENT (not the format or medium that it comes in), and be able to use it effectively across all mediums or formats. Make it easy to implement, and easy to include in open-source, and YOU WILL WIN - trust me.

    We, the average citizen on the street and the Government that represents us, should not be tasked with defending your defunct business model or ensuring your ongoing profits. You have a choice; stay your current course and lose us, or adapt to our needs and thrive. So far you've refused to demonstrate that you even vaguely understand the problem, but we will continue to petition you and seek your understanding in order to achieve a better outcome for all.

    Kind Regards,


      Government is full of baby boomers who currently don't - and refuse to try - to understand technology and the new market. Some of that generation are even proud of the fact that they can only type with two fingers, and don't know how to deal with computers. It's like a surgeon rocking up and saying "I can't even spell stethoscope LOL"

        An IQ test to earn a vote would be really unpopular, but at least we could do something about setting some kind of exam for the people who would represent us. Some kind of minimum standard for knowledge so we avoid that celebrated cult of willful ignorance.

        There is something horrifically self-destructive and schizophrenic as a country about deciding national direction through a form of government that assigns an intelligent person's vote an equal worth to that of someone whose solution to foreign debt is, 'print more money', then votes to 'protect the economy' based on what the TV said and how their Dad voted.

      G. Brown, I'd suggest you take a good, healthy dose of your own advice. How about you treat content providers with a little respect? The very fact that you steal the product of their hard work shows you appreciate what they do. Maybe you should also accept that they know how to do it, too?

      Of course an actor is worth $20million if putting him in your film will return you an extra $30million. The production companies know this, so do the actors and their agents. Paying them $20,000 instead would probably only reduce the cost of the product by a few cents per ticket/download. i.e. It's all but irrelevant in the age of $200million blockbusters.

      Just as with any product, if you are not happy with it or the terms of service, you don't buy it. If you feel strongly about it, you write and let them know. You do not go and steal it instead if you have any integrity.

        G. Brown, I'd suggest you take a good, healthy dose of your own advice. How about you treat content providers with a little respect? The very fact that you steal the product of their hard work shows you appreciate what they do.

        Yep, totally agree. Which is why I DON'T steal it. I'm someone who WANTS to pay for it. I don't however, want to be treated unfairly or get ripped off (who does). I'm not saying or providing an excuse for downloading illegally, I'm merely pointing out the choices that the industry could be making that would make the average customer who actually WANTS to pay for it happy.

        They don't respect their customers, purely and simply. I'm sorry, but the subjective work that an actor does is not worth 20 million, and I think you'll find the costs of talent to a 200 mill blockbuster are substantial. The industry complains that they can't look at other business models (like what the music industry has) because of their costs, but they aren't looking at ways of addressing that issue. Instead they seek to protect the current model, which just isn't sustainable into the future.

        This is not an integrity issue. This is a structural issue for the movie and television industry. The symptom of that issue is the piracy rates amongst people who WANT to pay for it. How many people download Game of Thrones and then BUY the Bluray? Lots I'd guess, meaning they're obviously happy to pay for it, so why not meet their needs to begin with? Also, how guilty to think those people feel for downloading it after buying the DVD/Bluray? Not very much I'd say.

        Disregarding the piracy issue for a second. If a business has a product that people aren't buying, usually I'd expect the business would review the product to see what's wrong. The film and television industries aren't doing that. They're arrogant in believing that people should like their product or else, and are fooling themselves if they think people downloading is proof that people are happy with it as the pirated product is substantially different to what they are offering.

        Now look at pirated content as a product (obviously ignoring price factors). It's available in any format, on any medium, at any time, can be put on any device and any number of devices, is not time limited, doesn't need internet access, and has excellent quality (Great choices of video and audio codecs and features).

        If a consumer compares and contrasts the two products (pirated and not) they'll obviously see which is the subjective better product. I would love the industry to make the changes needed to provide a better product to their customers, cause it's better for everyone. The music industry made the change, and so too should the Film and TV industry.

        /END RANT


        G. Brown, I'd suggest you take a good, healthy dose of your own advice. How about you treat content providers with a little respect?

        Respect goes both ways. And none of it seems to be coming to consumers from local distributors.

        The very fact that you steal the product of their hard work

        This has been repeatedly pointed out consistently. In this day and age, piracy is not stealing. In it infringement because an unauthorised copy is being while the original object remains as is and is not removed.

        Just as with any product, if you are not happy with it or the terms of service, you don't buy it.

        This is the thing, we consumers actually wish to buy said products. But we are NOT being offered said products in a timely manner and at an appropriate cost.

        For example, I'm in the process of getting the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books.

        Can you explain to me why the paper back version of the book costs $10-$14 down here in Australia while the hardback costs only $7-$10 USD?

        Do not tell me the cost wages and transport is a factor. These "reasons" have been proven to be false even before Labor's enquiry.

        If you feel strongly about it, you write and let them know.

        As the expression goes, the writing is on the wall. The problem is not us not writing it clearly on the wall, distributors and holders in Australia are not reading it.

        You do not go and steal it

        Again, unless the binary object is removed or somehow BitTorrent becomes attached to banking, this is infringement. It is not stealing.

        To close up, I hope these laws go though because I already know what the outcome will be when it happens.

        Usage of VPNs will soar, customs will be overrun as people buy from Amazon in protest and piracy will remain unchanged because the "solution" proposed in the discussion paper is for a problem that does not exist.

        The problem is with the local rights holders and distributors here with the actions of consumers being a symptom of the problem.

        Last edited 27/07/14 8:01 am

    Welcome to the world where corporations have more power than the people who vote in the government. Strange that the biggest lobby group is not us, but corporations that buy the votes of parliament to turn a blind eye to what they were elected to do and to only think of their next juicy portfolio.

      Switzerland should sue the rest of the west for misuse of the term "Democracy".

    Brandis is a fool, he just doesn't realise it yet. Like everything this current government does, it is for the benefit of big business at the public's expense. I cannot think of anything this government has done since it came to power that is actually good for ordinary people - not one thing.

    Have I missed something? Did I blink? Can anyone else name me just one thing?

      I think they have made us realise that electing the liberals on the wings of their promises was a big mistake. Letting the Australian public see that has to be counted as almost a community service...

    Here's where we hope that Labor and the Greens oppose this. I suspect the Greens will, but Labor are just as deeply in the pockets of big business as the Libs are, so I reckon they'll just chase the donations and do as they're told.

    Then there's Clive Palmer, but even he doesn't know what the hell he's going to do from one minute to the next.

    Never gonna work. We'll end up spending a shitload of money on the blocking systems, people to monitor it, the procedures to follow, and the legal framework - all for zero measurable result.

      Well, there'll be some result... the ISPs will have to prove that they've implemented filtering and investigation measures across one metric fucktonne of traffic to comply with the law, and the cost of filtering, investigating, storing (for later disputes), and reporting on that data will be passed on to the customer. So the result will be more expensive internet.

      ...Not a GOOD result, but a result. :/

    The funny thing being, with all the people who are likely to turn to a VPN service or other, and still download anyway, the Government or other agencies no longer being able to see this traffic are going to believe there is a successful drop in downloads. It's going to be completely detrimental to what they are trying to achieve, and then when the Entertainment Industry is complaining that it's still happening, the Government will be standing around scratching it's head.

    Cool... can we stop pretending we're a democratic nation, now?

    Last edited 25/07/14 6:22 pm

      Do you get to vote every 3 years? If so then we are indeed a democracy.

        Really? I thought a democratic nation was one where those in charge represented the population, not the small portion of them with large wallets. How are they representing the population's interests by recognising what the problem is, and then completely ignoring it? "We accept Google's assessment of the situation. Here's our solution that completely ignores that assessment. Oh, and every failed attempt at its implementation in the past twenty years."
        Yes, first world problems and all that, but one vote every three years does not allow the population to convey its feelings on every matter that needs to be governed. Referendums exist for a reason, and they're underutilised.
        Politics is a spectrum, but we're slipping further and further from a pure hue. Or maybe my eyes are just more open than they used to be.

        Last edited 25/07/14 7:02 pm

          I'm with you. and I don't even vote.. no matter who I vote for they are never going to ask me my opinion. channel 9 is more of a democracy than the government. at least they do polls on their website.

          and whats the deal with korea asking for copyright.. WHEN DID I LAST DOWNLOAD DANG JUM GEUM!! NEVER!

          Welcome to 'Whose Country Is It Anyway?' where the facts are made up and the votes don't matter!

    Making ISPs libel for the infringement of their users is like making state governments libel for people speeding on their roads. Something I will be pursuing if this gets through, and I get caught speeding.

    It's promising that the Government acknowledges that high price and availability are factors in Piracy. What is the solution for them to remove those factors though? How can they force private businesses to lower their prices or get more content sooner? I can't see how they can. The first business to provide good content and pricing will make a killing.

    L_st C__se
    Hint: trying to block TPB and other sites is...
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    | (_)
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    | |
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      Lost Cause!

    Site blocking didnt work in the UK, it wont work in Australia.

    State governments cant even effectively block sites in schools, kids can and do easily circumnavigate their systems.

    Clearly this was put together by a group of dinosaurs who have no idea of how the internet works.

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