Malcolm Turnbull Says Cost, Availability Are Big Factors In Australia’s Piracy Problem

Malcolm Turnbull Says Cost, Availability Are Big Factors In Australia’s Piracy Problem

Malcolm Turnbull has turned his attention to the ongoing skirmish between Australia’s copyright infringing public and the corporations that hold the rights to that copyrighted content. In a post on his personal website, he postulates on the “lively debate” around copyright and spruiks the government’s Online Copyright Infringement Discussion Paper.

Minister Turnbull has a lot of well constructed and clearly elucidated thoughts on the topic in a recent blog post, which covers everything from the composers and directors and poets and other parties affected by piracy, to whose responsibility policing illegal downloads is, to the reasons those downloads occur in the first place. It’s well worth reading, but here are a few of the key points (emphasis mine):

A big factor in this debate is of course the cost and availability of content. If you make it hard and expensive to acquire content legally and at the same time it is easy and free to acquire it illegally and if the owners of that content are reluctant to take legal action against those who do acquire it illegally, well it’s pretty obvious, in the absence of any other sanction, that is going to incentivise copyright infringement.

…As we note in the discussion paper and as I have said elsewhere, a part of the solution is making content available in Australia at the same time, or very shortly after, it is released overseas and at a comparable price. Now let me clear about this. The owners of copyright material, music, movies or whatever, are able to determine the price at which they sell it and when they sell it. That’s their call.

But their decision as to availability and pricing will have consequences both in terms of incentivising copyright infringement and, very importantly, in the level of public support for stronger measures to stop or discourage piracy. The greater the restrictions on the availability of content in Australia and the higher the cost relative to the rest of the world, the less public support there will be for whatever action is taken to sanction copyright infringers whether it is action by the ISP or a civil suit by the rights owners themselves.

Of course Minister Turnbull doesn’t come down on one side or the other on the topic, but it is clear that he’s suggesting that he understands the annoyance of the general public who are left with no legal option other than to pay the relatively (on an international scale) high cost of Foxtel or iTunes or Google Play to access the TV shows and movies that they want to watch, when they want to watch them. And, with no other legal option available, these people often turn to piracy and illegal downloading to access said content.

Foxtel is a fan of the government’s proposed piracy prevention policy, whereas academics and ISPs aren’t so happy with it. If you want to have a say on how the Australian government should approach online copyright infringement, Malcolm Turnbull and Gizmodo recommend that you share your thoughts with the Attorney-General’s office through the consultation process. [Malcolm Turnbull]