The leaking of the Federal Government's "Online Copyright Infringement Discussion Paper, July 2014" has certainly ruffled some feathers.
Consumer advocates Choice Magazine were quick to denounce the paper, saying it "sidesteps the Australia tax issue and fails to deal with the real causes of piracy", as we reported earlier this week
Now comes Australia's 800-pound pay TV empire, Foxtel, to strike back against pirate rebels who are blatantly stealing popular TV shows and movies from online sources, with Australia known as one of the world's top pirating countries.
Foxtel says it welcomes "the arrival of the Government's discussion paper outlining possible steps designed to protect the rights of content creators and distributors from online piracy", and is "pleased at the Government's recognition of the importance of the creative industries to the economy and society."
The company's Chief Executive Officer, Richard Freudenstein said: "Illegal downloading is not just an issue for businesses, it affects the livelihoods of actors, writers, directors, set designers, caterers and everyone else involved in the production of these programs.
"Foxtel acknowledges the comments in the discussion paper that everyone has a part to play in reducing the incidents of online piracy and we look forward to constructively engaging in the discussion of how to give effect to the principles that underpin the Government's position."
Foxtel says it "believes the responsibility for combating illegal downloading doesn't just stop with the government, it's something that needs to be shouldered by everyone."
Continuing, the company notes that: "Government should put in place a regulatory system that encourages legitimate use and discourages illegitimate use of content, while content owners need to make content available quickly and conveniently."
Taking a shot at Internet Service Providers, Foxtel says "ISP's should also assist by mitigating, to the extent they can, use of their networks for unauthorised purposes", and that "all parties have an obligation to ensure that consumers are educated about the implications of unauthorised use of content and how to get access to legitimate sources of content."
Then, talking up its own efforts to squash piracy, Foxtel boasts of the great lengths (and undoubted expense) it goes to for its "Express from the US" programming to "bring content to subscribers as soon as possible".
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| The ad on Foxtel's site for Foxtel Play. |
Foxtel also reminds everyone of the "massive investment" it has made to "maximise the number of ways in which people enjoy content by making it available on tablets, mobile phones and other popular devices, while offering flexible, no lock-in contract, subscription via its internet delivered service, Foxtel Play."
In other words, Foxtel is telling us it is doing everything it can to make paying and watching for legal content as simple, easy and accessible from virtually any device as possible.
The only thing Foxtel hasn't truly done is to offer "a-la-carte" channel pricing, letting people pick exactly the channels they want while paying a low price for each, instead of ending up with dozens or hundreds of channels that are never watched.
While some pay television operators do offer this model in different parts of the world, we're unlikely to see it from Foxtel in Australia any time soon, as our relatively small market and the investment Foxtel makes in buying content presumably can't be sustained by subscription fees - or at least, not in a way that is yet profitable enough for Foxtel's bean counters.
So, while Foxtel is clearly pleased to see the Government at least talk about taking action against Internet pirates, Australia's Jolly Rogers are unlikely to start flying the white flag anytime soon, with the great content copyright debate set to rage for quite some time yet.