Foxtel hates that you pirate stuff. According to the pay TV provider, it's costing jobs and hurting the company's bottom line. In its submission to the Government's copyright consultation process, Foxtel offers a pretty clear idea of how it would like to see you suffer for pirating content illegally.
The pay TV provider wrote in its 41-page government submission that it broadly supports the government's moves to crack down on piracy, adding a few suggestions on how it would tackle the problem of illegal content downloads.
Foxtel is largely in support of a "graduated response scheme" — also known as a three-strikes scheme — to crack down on problem pirates and repeat offenders. Rather than threaten pirates with legal action for their behaviour, Foxtel wants to educate consumers about their behaviour, much like the US Copyright Alert System does.
"A graduated response scheme, for example, provides a good opportunity to provide education to users in the environment in which they have infringed (for example, by way of diversion to a copyright education website or in an email notice received on the same device they have used to access the content itself).
"[Research shows]...that young people, in particular, may be downloading unauthorised content because they incorrectly believe it is the social norm or because they mistakenly believe that it does no real harm," Foxtel wrote in its submission.
A graduated-response scheme would see a user sent a prescribed number of warnings regarding their pirate behaviour before action is taken by the ISPs against a that specific account. Industry suggestions for suggested "actions" have included everything from a slowing of the service through to straight-up disconnection of service.
Foxtel has made it clear in its submission that it doesn't want to punish users by disconnecting their internet services, saying that such a punishment would lead to safety issues for consumers:
"Foxtel is not advocating for termination of accounts as a mitigation measure and accepts that a mitigation measure must not disable an account holder’s voice telephone service (including 000), email, security or health service."
Instead, Foxtel supports the punishments outlined by the US in its Copyright Alert System (emphasis added):
Foxtel strongly believes that the Australian scheme must have some mitigation measures as is the case in the US CAS. The CAS provides the carriage service provider with the discretion to implement one of a number of mitigation measures including:
• significantly slowing down subscribers’ internet speed for a prescribed period; • restricting the web pages on the internet that are accessible using the subscriber’s account for a prescribed period; • implementing redirection of the subscriber’s internet account to an information page for a prescribed period or for such time until the subscriber undertakes an activity to acknowledge receipt of the notice; and/or • such other technological measure which will have an equivalent impact on the subscriber’s access to full internet capabilities, but which will not result in termination of the subscriber’s access to the internet and emergency services.
In describing the problem of piracy in Australia, Foxtel agrees that Australians are some of the most prolific pirates in the world. The pay TV provider is particularly upset that Aussies download shows like Breaking Bad and Game Of Thrones en masse, despite what it sees as an extensive effort to "fast-track" said shows from the US to Australia. But it isn't just fast-tracked shows that Aussies are pirating: It's Australian-made shows too.
Interestingly, the submission revealed that Foxtel conducts internal monitoring to see roughly how many people are stealing shows that it contributes production budget to. Namely, Foxtel noted that four of its shows in particular are being pirated in massive numbers.
Foxtel's own programs are also the subject of significant unauthorised downloading. Monitoring conducted for Foxtel shows that some of Foxtel’s most popular locally-produced programs are downloaded on an unauthorised basis at alarming rates, even when they are not currently airing. For example, during a recent 10 day period (19–28 August 2014), the following unauthorised downloading via peer-to-peer (P2P) was detected:
• Wentworth—30,414 downloads; • The Real Housewives of Melbourne—6,388 downloads; • The Recruit—1,889 downloads; and • Australia’s Next Top Model—750 downloads.
As for who's to blame for piracy, Foxtel again notes the industry's perception that young people (between the ages of 12 and 17) are the most prolific pirates given their fluency with technology. However, it cites research saying that those claims don't hold water.
[Intellectual Property Awareness Foundation's] 2013 research provided differentiated findings for those aged 12–17 years and for adults. In relation to young people the research provides some useful background that can assist with designing educational responses to piracy. In relation to the incidence of, and attitudes to tackling piracy, the research notes that:
• despite anecdotal evidence that piracy is rife among young people, most 12–17 year olds say they do not pirate movies and TV shows (76 per cent were classified as ‘non active’); and • almost half (49 per cent) agreed that the internet should be more regulated to prevent piracy.
Despite these findings, Foxtel still wants a massive information campaign targeted at all age groups to tell Aussies that there are better ways to stream your content than pirating it or streaming it via Netflix.
Yep, you read that correctly: Foxtel is still upset about people streaming Netflix in Australia. From its submission:
"Reports suggest that Netflix already has a very large Australian subscriber base for its US service, even though accessing the US Netflix service from Australia may be a breach of the service’s terms and conditions and would not be consistent with licensing arrangements the service has in place with content suppliers," Foxtel wrote.
Unnamed industry executives believe that Australians streaming Netflix via VPN tunnels are as bad as pirates for this reason.
The piracy debate will come to a head tonight when Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull hosts a copyright industry forum designed to air the issues in public. We'll be live from that event so you won't miss a thing.
Read Foxtel's full submission here (PDF).