The government has recently started paying a lot more attention to copyright infringement — specifically the downloading of music, movies, TV shows and related content via torrents, Usenet and other sources. Its most recent move was to release a discussion paper on the topic, along with a request for suggestions and feedback. Service provider iiNet has used the opportunity to set the record straight on a number of "facts" wielded by rights holders.
Published today, the 27-page paper covers a range of issues, including privacy concerns, data retention plans and the effectiveness of the graduated response, as well as the contentious idea of blocking repeat offenders.
It's the weekend, so I wouldn't blame you if you're not entirely up for reading through it all. Fortunately, iiNet's chief regulatory officer Steve Dalby has condensed the key points into a post on the ISP's official blog.
Firstly, Dalby states that the issue of copyright infringement can't be dealt with by "applying a band aid" — it will require a "long term solution" that reduces piracy not by punishing infringers, but given people less reasons to download content illegally.
He also mentions that most Australian consumers would be happy to pay for content, if someone actually offered it locally. He cites Foxtel's own report of the success it's had with season four of Game of Thrones, with the pay TV provider recording some 500,000 purchases and the "lengths" people go to in order to subvert geo-blocking for services such as Netflix.
Australia also isn't the piracy heavyweight it's made out to be. Sure, we download the hell out of certain content, but in international terms, we don't even make the top 10 for copyright infringement.
If you do dive into the paper itself, iiNet hits out at rights holders' use of "'lobbynomics' rhetoric" and the effect it has had on policy and the media:
The misleading claims by some rights holders about
- The scale of economic damage;
- The impact on employment;
- Where accountabilities sit; and
- The inflated status of these minor infringements to the equivalent of theft, terrorism and
does little to engender sympathy or credibility with the rights holders' legitimate concerns about online infringement. Such assertions also highlight a disdain of their market, which has encouraged consumers to move in droves to alternative supply arrangements which offer much more customer-focused platforms providing access to very desirable content.
The submission is an excellent source of information if you want to get a better idea of the arguments (and counter-arguments) currently in play as well as a look at how a service provider sees the issue.