Australia’s battle over piracy came to a head as Communication Minister Malcolm Turnbull chaired a discussion between industry heavyweights on how the Government should best regulate the issue. Get in here and follow it as it happened live!
Image: Lisa Maree Williams / Getty
Here’s who will be attending Turnbull’s piracy forum today.
• Jane Van Beelen, Executive Director, Telstra
• Peter Duncan, Writer/Producer
• David Buckingham, Chief Executive Officer, iiNet Limited
• Richard Freudenstein, Chief Executive Officer, Foxtel
• Brett Cottle, Chief ExecutiveOfficer, APRA | AMCOS
• Alan Kirkland, Chief Executive Officer, Choice
• Graham Burke, Co-Chief Executive Officer, Village Roadshow Limited
The discussion will be chaired by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, and will centre around the issues raised in the Government’s Copyright Discussion Paper (PDF).
Check out our coverage on the issue below:
It’s interesting that Graham Burke of Village Roadshow has been added back onto the bill. He had previously told Turnbull he wouldn’t appear on the panel mostly because of “the crazies” that would be there.
If you could ask anything of the panel, what would you like to know? Tell us in the comments!
The Department of Communications, Broadband and the Digital Economy is also streaming the event live on the web. You can check that out here.
We’re all getting seated and settled for the event! We’re kicking off in nine minutes.
Crowd is being asked to settle. It’s about to start!
Don’t forget, you can live stream this event right here.
The lights are down, we’re about to start up.
You can use the hashtag #CopyrightAU to ask questions of the panel via Twitter as we go.
Turnbull is up introducing everyone.
Turnbull is now “framing the issue”. “We don’t imagine we can eliminate it [piracy] completely,” he admits first up.
In 2014, BitTorrent traffic in the US is down to 6 per cent in the US, but it’s still around 26 per cent of downstream traffic in Asia, says Malcolm Turnbull.
Peter Duncan, writer and director of shows like Rake on the ABC, has just been asked why we need to stop copyright infringement from his perspective.
“The issue for me comes down to the fact that I don’t think people understand the nature of ‘the business’, what we do, how we do it and the labour put into making film and television,” he says.
“We almost lost the war calling it ‘piracy’, becuase [Pirates of the Carribean] comes to mind. We should call it theft and then subcategorise it.”
Peter Duncan talks about the example of The Hurt Locker: 6 million tickets, 10 million downloads. The director is now telling investors she won’t be able to get their money back if that continues, PD says.
He relates an example of how Spain has no indie film market now because of piracy.
“This isn’t about my bank balance, this is about the prospect of the future of the industry,” he adds.
Applause breaks out for Peter Duncan’s impassioned argument. Not the last we’ll hear tonight I’m sure.
Back to Turnbull, introducing peer to peer downloads and BitTorrent. Malcolm Turnbull is explaining it to the audience.
“Peer to peer file sharing is very high,” he says. 11.6 per cent of the downloads of Game Of Thrones come from Australia. Turnbull asks Graham Burke of Village Roadshow how he feels that his home city, Melbourne, is the highest percentage of piracy in the world. A smattering of chuckles throughout the crowd.
“We want to support the industry and access models, but this can’t happen with thriving illegal access channels,” Turnbull adds.
“The people that create content are entitled to be paid for it.”
We’re now talking about the access, availability and pricing model. Delayed release dates of The LEGO Movie, Game Of Thrones season 4 and Sia’s album 1000 Forms of Fear.
“In an internet world”, Turnbull asks, “is it possible to have differential prices between markets?”
“Is it possible any longer to have delays in the release of a product? Can you release a movie in the US and then wait days or weeks or months before it becomes available in Australia? What can rights holders do to make content more available and more affordable…to reduce copyright infringement?”
Turnbull describes Village Roadshow’s Graham Burke as “eloquent and passionate”. Here we go.
Village Roadshow’s Burke believes that “if we’re going to defeat piracy we need three initiatives: education,” he adds, citing the Korean example, “pricing and availability, which is critical,” saying that in recent times there have been moves to bring down the cost of downloads, citing the size of the download for rental market where we’re 7 per cent cheaper than the UK and 7 per cent more expensive than the UK.
“In high def, Australia’s actually cheaper than the US or the UK,” he asserts.
“We can’t tell other companies what to do, but we’re currently looking at our pricing to bring it down even further,” Burke says.
“It’s right because it’s good for out customers, it’s right because it can reduce the war on piracy, and it’s right for shareholders.”
“We made one hell of a mistake with LEGO. It was made here in Kings Cross and because it was so important, we held it until the holidays which caused it to be pirated widely. No more. All of our movies we’ll now make all our movies day in date with the US. I know 20th Century Fox are and Universal are too.”
Having said that:
“There has to be a theatrical window so the business can work so future films get made. It’s very simple: records and music cost somewhere from $30k to $300k to produce. Feature films can cost up to $200m. We need a window for the business model to work. Those that say solve the problem by offering them on digital downloads, that’s what music has done but the fact of the matter that piracy is still massive,” Burke asserts.
“As a consequence in music, there’s not a record store left. That was my Saturday morning joy! That will happen to Australian theatres.”
Moving onto Richard Freudenstein from Foxtel. What are you doing to make content affordable and available?” asks Turnbull.
“For a long time now, we’ve been doing Direct From The US and bringing shows in within two hours of the US,” citing GOT and Boardwalk Empire. RF summarises the news that Presto is here and it’s already half price. Last week Foxtel said it would adjust its pricing also.
“It’s important that content owners respond to the market but that’s not enough. Orange Is The New Black is the third msot illegally downloaded show in the US at the moment. That’s on Netflix and it’s still very badly illegally downloaded.”
Throw to Brett Cottle from APRA saying how his industry has been affected and responded to piracy.
“We’re now going from a digital ownership model to a digital access model,” BC says, referencing streaming services.
Australia has hit saturation with music streaming services, citing examples from Rdio and Spotify.
In the physical world, you had 30,000 tracks to be accessed. Now we have 40 million. And yet, the problem of piracy is as bad in Australia as it has ever been. There are 2.5-3 million people accessing legal download and streaming services, but there are 3-3.5 million people accessing illegal services like torrent sites semi-regularly (once per month).”
“The game has moved on since the IT Pricing Inquiry,” BC adds. “Saying that streaming services are where it’s at now.”
Will Page, Chief Economist at Spotify has now been invited to speak. He’s citing the UK example about what worked and what didn’t for Spotify and digital music access.
“1 in 6 Australians have Spotify. Three quarters of our users are under 34,” he shares.
“The play button on Spotify starts 0.284ms after you hit it, which replicates the delay of pressing play on a music player,” WP says.
Spotify has observed a 20 per cent drop in piracy in the last year in Australia, says the service’s local economist.
“The piracy levels in Australia for TV and film are four times that for music. This is during a time period that doesn’t include GoT. One thing on that which is interesting is that TV piracy peaks during the week, and film piracy peaks on the weekend. Supply dictates demand.”
“The biggest challenge you face in Australia is responding to a change in consumer behaviour”
Alan Kirkland, CEO of CHOICE has now been asked what the “consumer perspective” is. “Do you buy what these guys are saying?” Malcolm Turnbull asks.
“To some extent, yes,” Alan Kirkland admits. “There’s still an enormous price gap compared what people pay in the US,” he adds.
“Now with the internet, that’s really obvious.”
“There are very few people who say there should be a ‘right to piracy’. Consumers get that there’s a cost to developing what they watch, but we need to address root causes around pricing and availability to give our industry a vibrant…future”.
We’re about to throw to an ISP, probably iiNet or Telstra, about a graduated response or “three strikes” scheme. Get ready for the fireworks.
“It’s contentious that any of these schemes work, or if they work,” Turbull says
We’re now going to both Jane Van Beelen from Telstra and David Buckingham from iiNet.
Jane Van Beelen first.
“We are very passionate that online piracy is wrong,” says Van Beelen, but lack of availability of content is no excuse, she adds.
“When trying to play a role in anti-piracy, our customers rights and privacy needs to be protected and respected. We shouldn’t have to enforce the rights of others. We want an independent third-party to tell us where there needs to be something that should be blocked or picking up on infringing activity,” she says.
Turnbull asks: “Should you [Telstra] have to slow down the speed of access for users after three strikes?”
Jane Van Beelen of Telstra replies that “at the end of the day, it’s not for us to oversee what customers do with internet access.
“Customers don’t want their ISPs to have that [oversight] role.”
“We would want fast expedited access to a court where people can put their case forward and defend themselves,” she finishes.
David Buckingham of iiNet is up.
Turnbull says as long as iiNet keeps spending money with the NBN he’s happy. “The faster you get it to me…” Buckingham jokes to massive applause.
Buckingham believes that they want to stop piracy at iiNet, but says that notice schemes don’t work.
Graham Burke of Village Roadshow jumps straight in.
“There is a scheme that’s working the Republic of South Korea. The reason it’s so significant is that it’s the first country to get high-speed broadband. The government and ISPs worked together for cheaper movies online, graduated response scheme and in their case it was a 29-day suspension which knocked piracy out. Whoever’s advising you…I’d love to sit down with you and advise you. The stats are undeniable.”
“In Australia, we want to slow your speed. I don’t see why it’s seen as so Draconian, because my wife is a customer of yours and you slow her every month. I wish you’d cut her off!
Jane Van Beelen from Telstra: “There’s no silver bullet here…but 90 per cent of customers warned the first time didn’t need a second warning.”
Ishtar Vij, Google Australia’s head of Public Policy is up, talking about Google’s position.
“The internet has been a boon to creativity…and new business models like Spotify and Netflix,” she said.
“Tennis Australia was also using YouTube this year to monetise uploads around the Open. They monetised 30 million uploads.”
Content owners do need to control their content online but it can’t compromise the ecosystem. The discussion being proposed [would hurt] new business models. What’s being discussed in the paper isn’t extending notice schemes, it’s extending Authorisation Liability,” IV adds.”
Rather than put at risk services, we want to go with things that work. Follow the money works around the globe and the industry has expressed that as favourable, she says. That means to cut off the financial incentive of pirates.
The pricing and availability solutions are just getting going, we need to wait and see to let them get going. There’s a long way to go on this…before we jump into legislation.
Supportive applause to Google’s point.
Foxtel’s Richard Freudenstein in with a bodyslam on Google:
If we sit and wait and don’t introduce some schemes soon, there won’t be an industry in future. It’s much more complex than you [Google] just subscribed. If we’re relying on ad-supported YouTube, it’s going to be a different type of…industry than we have today. We’ll have a lot more cats on skateboards and a lot less Game Of Thrones.
APRA’s Brett Cottle is industry-splaining to Google as well. This isn’t going well for the web giant:
“Of course it’s true that the internet is a wonderful thing…however what the government is proposing is a proposal with respect to the existence of pirate businesses throughout most countries. An entire generation post-Napster have got into a habit of saving if they want content for free, they can have it.”
“This is about getting the people back to the table to start a new discussion.”