Turnbull Takes A Pot Shot At Foxtel + Apple Over High Cost Of Movie Downloads

Written by David Richards     31/07/2014 | 10:34 | Category: IPTV

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has taken a pot shot at Foxtel the world's most expensive subscription TV network and Apple without mentioning their name.

Turnbull Takes A Pot Shot At Foxtel + Apple Over High Cost Of Movie Downloads
Speaking on the ABC program AM Turnbull was asked by journalist Chris Uhlmann as to whether Australians were getting ripped off at the moment when it came to the high cost of IPTV content.

Uhlmann asked Turnbull as to why do Australians pay 40% more than people in the US to download movies in Australia. 

The question which was based on Foxtel pricing for the HBO program Game Of Thrones which after being offered by Foxtel saw over 300,000 Australians illegally download the content from Bit Torrent sites. 

Turnbull said on the issue of pricing in Australia: That is a very powerful argument, if I can just say so, there is an obligation on the content owners, if their concerns are to be taken seriously, and they are, by Government, and if Governments are to take action to help them prevent piracy, then they've got to play their part which is to make their content available universally and affordably. 

Chris Uhlmann: And what's their reason for that price differential?

Malcolm Turnbull: Well, I assume it's because they assume they feel they can make money out of it.

CU: So it's an Australian Tax imposed by these providers?

Australians are among the world's most prolific downloaders of illegal videos and music and the Government looks likely to ask Internet Service Providers to do more to crack down on piracy.

AM went on to say that two years ago, Malcolm Turnbull said the High Court made the right decision when it ruled that one ISP was not liable for the actions of its customers, but now as Communications Minister, he's released a discussion paper which says that providers should take reasonable steps to make sure their customers aren't breaking the law, even when they don't have the direct power to stop them. 

Turnbull when asked what he was trying to achieve said "Internet piracy, downloading a movie that you haven't paid for is theft. It's become a massive problem for the content creators of Australia and right around the world. It is really undermining a very important industry globally and it is simply theft".

CU: But are you seeking to make the conduit responsible for the crime, by making Internet Service Providers responsible for what people download?

MT: What we're looking at is, and there are many schemes around the world, and there's a lot of controversy about what worked. We're looking at something like this, that this is the type of thing, and let me give you an example of what they do in New Zealand for example, it's probably the best comparison. 

In New Zealand, where an ISP is advised by the rights owners that an IP address, which is the number allocated to your computer at the time you're using it, has downloaded a movie, an illegal movie, the ISP is required to send a notice to the account holder. And after they have sent three notices in respect of different violations, then it's up to the rights holder then, if they want to, to take the customer to court and, you know, seek to recover some damages. 

CU: Choice says that what international experience shows is that what's being proposed is high cost and has low results.

MT: Well, that's where there's some controversy about that, and we'll be having a lot of, hopefully a lot of good input and debate on this, but Chris, the fundamental problem we've got is Internet piracy is a big issue. I am a passionate defender of the Internet and freedom on the Internet, but freedom on the Internet doesn't mean freedom to steal.

CU: Well, it doesn't cost any more, does it, to download it in the United States than in Australia, this is the Internet Age, I don't know enormous amounts about it, but I can't imagine it costs any more to do. 

MT: "No, but Chris, but look, anyone is entitled, people are entitled to sell their products for whatever price they like, that's their right, and I'm not suggesting that Government should be setting prices here. 

"But I'm just saying that if you want people to, if you want to discourage piracy, the best thing you can do, and the music industry is a very good example of this, the way they've responded, the best thing you can is to make your content available globally, universally and affordably. 

"In other words you just keep on reducing and reducing and reducing the incentive for people to do the wrong thing, but everybody has to play their part, and the content owners in the debate that's going to follow on this discussion paper, they're the ones that have got to justify why they are charging more to Australians, they got to make their case too."