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Movies Australia Piracy Your Rights Online

Aussie Case Unlikely To Solve Piracy Riddle In Fast Broadband World 219

An anonymous reader writes "When some of Hollywood's biggest movie and TV studios took Australian ISP iiNet to court in 2008 — accusing it of facilitating piracy — it focused the eyes of the world downunder. Internet users and media companies alike were keen to see if the courts could figure out how to resolve the ongoing battle caused by easy, and essentially illegal, access to copyrighted material. After three and a half years and a number of appeals the high court judgement comes down on Friday, but it already looks like a failed attempt to solve an impossible riddle."
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Aussie Case Unlikely To Solve Piracy Riddle In Fast Broadband World

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  • Not impossible (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JoeMerchant (803320) on Monday April 16, 2012 @10:13PM (#39706845)

    The piracy riddle is not impossible, but the two sides of the argument have taken irreconcilable positions. Zero respect for IP is not ideal, and neither is absolute authority to enforce IP rights in all media and devices.

    Why can't we all just get along? [mediate.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 16, 2012 @10:14PM (#39706849)

    Nothing "impossible" about this "riddle":

    You want me to police my customers for you? Fuck you, pay me.
    You want me to hand over subscriber data without a court order? Fuck you, pay me.
    You want me to block websites based on your sayso? Fuck you, pay me.
    You want me to shut off paying customers because you don't like what they're downloading? Fuck you, pay me.

  • Re:Not impossible (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 16, 2012 @10:18PM (#39706883)

    Zero respect for IP is not ideal, and neither is absolute authority to enforce IP rights in all media and devices.

    That's just an opinion, but I do agree with it.

    But between the two, I'd much rather have the former. The problem with the latter is that it advocates collective punishment. DRM, nonsensical bills like SOPA, etc, all hurt innocents and restrict freedom. Probably more than pirates who know what they're doing. I think collective punishment is immoral.

    That said, I don't really agree that it's possible to stop it. The scope of the internet is too vast, and there are many who simply don't care. I think it's something we will have to live with, and learn to adapt to it.

  • Re:Not impossible (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Inf0phreak (627499) on Monday April 16, 2012 @10:23PM (#39706907)

    The thing is... I don't think a free and open internet is possible together with strong, enforcable and actively enforced copyright laws.

  • Re:Not impossible (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JoeMerchant (803320) on Monday April 16, 2012 @10:27PM (#39706919)

    Zero respect for IP is not ideal, and neither is absolute authority to enforce IP rights in all media and devices.

    That's just an opinion, but I do agree with it.

    But between the two, I'd much rather have the former.

    What I'd like to see is an open marketplace with clear labeling: DRM vs non DRM. Both producers and consumers should be free to choose, with non-trivial options on both sides. It seems to me that non DRM audio entertainment and video games are starting to make some significant headway, while the motion picture industry is still playing ostrich and saying all DRM, everywhere, all the time is the only thing conceivable.

    I bought one DRM'ed album on iTunes for my iPad, it was such an unholy disappointing pain in the ass that I will never do that again - in contrast, I spent thousands of dollars on essentially non DRM'ed vinyl back in the day, and hundreds of dollars on high quality tape and tape recorders to protect and extend my fair use ownership rights of the music on the LPs.

  • by beaverdownunder (1822050) on Monday April 16, 2012 @10:33PM (#39706945)

    Regarding TV 'piracy' in Australia, popular television programs are aired in the US/Canada days, weeks or months before here, so people download them in order to stay up to date. That said, many people (myself included) have subscription television that does eventually broadcast these programs, generally commercial free. Does downloading these programs ahead of their broadcast in Australia constitute piracy if you're paying for the subscription television services that eventually broadcast them?

    With regards to film, movies can be delayed by as much as six months (to match 'summer movies' with the Australian summer) from their US debuts. Sometimes, the DVD becomes available overseas before a movie is shown in Australia! Obviously, this is absurd. Peer pressure in internet social groups to download and watch these films can be immense. Australians cannot be expected to have a popular movie 'spoiled' for them by idle chit-chat, nor should the other 95% of users who HAVE seen the movie be forced to keep quiet until Australians get a chance to see it. If release dates were universal, this would be far less of a problem.

    However, since Australians already pay per-gigabyte (either through a cap or pre-paid) perhaps the easiest and best solution for all concerned is to whack on a modest per-GB tariff, similar to the Canadian levy on blank media, to be paid back to content producers. It would be controversial, but perhaps less riotous than attempting to police piracy and 'shut down' accused offenders without due process.

  • by preaction (1526109) on Monday April 16, 2012 @10:42PM (#39706997)

    This. Valve learned from Steam that game piracy numbers in Eastern Europe were high because piracy gave a better product: Better (hacked) translations, faster release dates, and no DRM scheme. Valve fixed two of those problems and watched the money roll in.

    Piracy isn't just people being cheap, but don't let any content producers know that.

  • Re:Not impossible (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 16, 2012 @10:43PM (#39706999)

    The thing is... I don't think a free and open internet is possible together with strong, enforcable and actively enforced copyright laws.

    You could say the same thing about kiddie porn...

    yes, you could. But that would be stupid and irrelevant to the discussion.

  • The Real objective (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EnempE (709151) on Monday April 16, 2012 @10:45PM (#39707011)
    I think there is a lot of smoke around what this is about.

    The idea is to get a ruling that makes an ISP responsible for the the abuse of copyright that happens on its servers. This would lead to the the ISPs being forced to pay licencing fees to the licence owners. The costs involved with keeping track of and processing the licencing fees from a few thousand ISPs would be much easier than chasing individuals. This would turn the Internet into a solid revenue stream for the licence holders, and allow it to succeed radio and television as a source of royaties and insure against the failure of payed content such as DVDs and iTunes.

    At the moment ISPs are treated like telephone carriers, the MPAA etc. want them treated as broadcasters were so that they can extract payment in a way that they are comfortable with.

    Australia is a good place to do this in the eye of the MPAA because they feel that they can bully and buy the result, which they can use as a landmark in the UK, and then show as an example to courts in the US.

    This is not about stopping people from sharing content, they want people to keep doing that as their content is being viewed more often. What they want is to get payed for people viewing it, regardless of how they got it, while still not having to pay for the distribution.
  • by jaminJay (1198469) on Monday April 16, 2012 @10:52PM (#39707051) Homepage

    The biggest issue is availability. There are so many times where I have wanted to pay hard-earned cash for product only to be knocked back with 'not available in your region' insanity. Thanks to being able to stream the same stuff fromYouTube from the 'official channel' makes this even more obnoxious.

    The solution is simple: if you're going to release something, it must be available everywhere at the same time. Also, offer it for free with no DRM with the option of paying a reasonable sum and people will pay for it. I know this as I have been involved in the independant music business over here for nearly a decade now.

    People want stuff to be convenient, regardless of price. Currently, piracy is the more convenient option for many situations. Make your product convenient and you will win.

    Finally, there is a large portion of the market who do not have the ability to spend money on entertainment product. This is usually due to their being under sixteen years old and not eligible for credit cards and the like. These people are often the very ones that spread the awareness of your product furthest (just look at how McDonalds, for example, abuses such influence on a child's family and friends).

    This whole argument is a stupid one: one group feels entitled to money, the other feels entitled to culture. The second group will always win.

  • by LordLucless (582312) on Monday April 16, 2012 @10:56PM (#39707071)

    However, since Australians already pay per-gigabyte (either through a cap or pre-paid) perhaps the easiest and best solution for all concerned is to whack on a modest per-GB tariff, similar to the Canadian levy on blank media, to be paid back to content producers.

    Yay, free money for the content producers, and jack squat for the consumer. Because those Canadian blank media levies have stopped any persecution of consumers copying the media they've now paid for, am I right?

  • by GrahamCox (741991) on Monday April 16, 2012 @11:00PM (#39707099) Homepage
    That suggests that these things would be OK if the MPAA (or whoever) paid the ISPs. If that were allowed, then that would create a much worse internet than we have now.

    We need to ensure that such a business model for ISPs would never be legal. That's what these court cases are about.
  • by Scarletdown (886459) on Monday April 16, 2012 @11:27PM (#39707193) Journal

    Nothing "impossible" about this "riddle":

    You want me to police my customers for you? Fuck you!
    You want me to hand over subscriber data without a court order? Fuck you!
    You want me to block websites based on your sayso? Fuck you!
    You want me to shut off paying customers because you don't like what they're downloading? Fuck you!

    Fixed that for you.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @12:15AM (#39707425)

    Well, what do you think the odds are that they would be afford to pay for the service? Even on a $30 movie you very quickly get to the point of it costing more than the "lost sale" to enforce it properly. What they really want is the ISP to assume responsibility for enforcement and don't want to have to pay for it to be done properly.

  • Re:Not impossible (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @12:23AM (#39707455)

    As somebody who follows these issues closely (i.e. Copyright laws, related lawsuits, DRM, website blocking, etc.) I think both of you are not very well informed.

    First, I think there's a lot of respect for intellectual property actually, even among people who occasionally download stuff for free. You have to understand, the "pirates" are a group made of very different people. Gender, age, social status and motives vary greatly from one pirate to another.
    Most people don't pirate just to get free stuff, they pirate because
    - they genuinely can't afford it (think children or people in severe poverty) or feel the original product is overpriced but would be happy to pay 60% if they could,
    - they want to check out the quality of a game, movie or song before they pay for it,
    - the original product has DRM and as a result, it's quality suffers or the product is not fully usable
    - they want the money to go in the artist's pockets, not the publisher's
    - they want a song or movie that is decades old and for which the artist shouldn't be entitled to get money, or the song/movie should be in the public domain by now if the law was reasonable.
    - or they're upset at the company/producer/musician for some reason (for example, imagine you like Polanski's movies but refuse to give him a cent because he's a rapist).

    Most "pirates" understand perfectly well that if you don't pay content producers, you end up with less content being made. Pirates aren't questioning that (although they do question the occasional claim by the industry that there would be 0 artists if nobody paid them a cent).

    I think if there is any respect issue, it's the other way around: the industry doesn't respect customers, so customers are reluctant to give their money to the industry.
    DRM is one lack of respect. No DRM has ever stopped pirates, every game with DRM has been pirated in less than 3 months. On the other hand, DRM inconveniences customers greatly, by hurting performance, creating bugs or sometimes locking people out of their game (for example, see Dragon Age and how you had to be connected to EA Games' servers the whole time while you played. If your connection dropped for a second, the game quit to your desktop and a few months ago the game could not be played for a whole week because EA were moving their servers.

    Then there's the way publishers try to change the law to suit them, regardless of how it works for people. Spying on people's internet activity through ISPs, locking people out of the Internet, fining schools for making kindergarten students perform popular songs... yeah, that's real respect here.

    How about DVD regions, and how you need a different DVD reader for each continent. A lot of people travel and immigrate in this day, so it affects quite a few people.

    Or what about being a jerk, like Sony raising the prices on Whitney Houston's CDs minutes after her death? Of course they passed it off as an error, but it's obvious somebody at Sony realized the PR disaster that was about to follow - they would have gone with the raise in prices if only they had known the public wouldn't be offended.

    Speaking of Sony, they sold PS3s with Linux, then remotely removed Linux from the consoles through an update. Of course you were free not to update, but then you had to stop playing online. Again, real respect there.

    I could go on. The point is, people do respect IP. Pirates who never spend a cent on media are a tiny bunch. Greed is not what piracy is about at all. Most people know that they must support their favorite artists if they want more of their content, and people do this gladly.

    But there's more to the piracy issue. For one thing, the industry is not fighting it because it hurts their profits. They're making millions, their profits are higher than ever before... It's not about losing money, despite what they claim.
    These people are not stupid: they know DRM is unpopular. They know why people pirate. They know pirate gives them more exposure...
    It's about control.

  • Re:Not impossible (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968.gmail@com> on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @12:29AM (#39707481) Journal

    And you just pointed out the answer, just look at Valve. With Steam what you have is a lot like the old disc based copy protection, there are a bazillion cracks out there but its just enough to keep it from being absurdly trivial for Joe Average to hand out the games to all his friends and in return the sales make it so damned cheap frankly it isn't worth the effort to pirate for a lot of people.

    What the whole insane IP mess has done is made these douchebags think their "IP" is so damned precious they should be able to just avoid that whole "market pricing" thing and charge the absolute most assraping price they can slap on it. All piracy is is a sign from the market that the prices are wrong. humans are lazy creatures and if you hit the sweet spot on the price many will simply not bother as it'll be cheaper and easier to buy than to pirate. I have probably 40 games in Steam and another 40 from GOG, could i have not pirated them all? Sure but it wouldn't have been as easy as "push button and get game" and the prices were so low, why bother?

    But instead what we get is nothing but DRMed up the ass garbage that makes the pirated version the better value. its like what Wil Wheaton pointed out when he bought some Dr Who off of Amazon and found it didn't work when he crossed the border for a show even though he had already "bought" the content "If I would have just pirated it I could be watching Dr Who right now". make it easy, make it convenient, make it cheap. miss any of the three and the pirated version will be the better version.

  • by gweihir (88907) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @12:52AM (#39707603)

    Intellectual property is a completely artificial construct, not a natural right at all. (Rather obviously. If you disagree, have a look into its history.) Artificial constructs need to be adjusted from time to time. As anybody is able to publish today without the help of the copyright industry, its time has passed and keeping it alive with legislation does a lot more damage than good. In the case of the patent industry this is becoming blatantly obvious as well with over-broad patents that have zero inventive value and only serve to sabotage the competition. In the case of the media copyright industry, there is no reason for their existence anymore.

    Also keep in mind that artists have no natural right to compensation, that is also a purely artificial construct. The classical model is that they perform, and if people like it, they can donate. Or they can sponsor artists. That model has worked pretty well throughput history and basically the development of all arts. The pay-before-you-consume model pushed by the copyright industry is basically an attempt to compensate for bad quality (that people would _not_ donate for afterwards) and unrestricted greed. Yet, there is absolutely no risk that artists that produce things people like starving. This has been demonstrated numerous times by now. In fact, unlimited distribution over the Internet serves to give more obscure artists an audience that they could never get any other way. And while artists have no right to compensation, keeping them happy and productive _is_ desirable. There is however also zero need for artists to get rich. That is a modern perversion that served to diverse cultural diversity and basically is pushed by people getting rich off artists.

    So there actually is not "riddle" to solve. There is just obsolete law to adjust, and not in favor of the copyright industry. Doing so would have tremendous cost, while the continued existence of the copyright industry has no benefit for society at all.

  • Re:Not impossible (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AngryDeuce (2205124) on Tuesday April 17, 2012 @08:30AM (#39708967)

    So not only do you want total freedom for your music to be able play it on any device, you want every vendor to hand-hold you through the procedure of moving it from one device to another?

    The fact that the procedure requires hand-holding at all is ridiculous. It's a fucking digital file. It should be as simple a matter as cut and paste, but God Forbid someone do that, a rights holder's head would probably explode somewhere...

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