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Byron Shire
April 12, 2021

Flaws in government’s own copyright policy

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The online copyright infringement marketing research report prepared by TNS for the Department of Communications indicates that the Federal Government’s strategies for reducing online copyright infringement in Australia will be less effective than simply making content more affordable and convenient to access*.

This vindicates much of what the Pirate Party — among others — has been saying in statements to the media and in submissions on proposed legislation.

The report prepared by TNS supports what we have been saying all along. The best way to reduce online copyright infringement is by offering competitive services that guarantee easy, cheap and quick access to content, not threatening consumers with legal action or disconnection.

The report explicitly acknowledges that most people do in fact want to pay for the content they consume, and changes in pricing, convenience and accessibility, as well as improving release dates, remain significant considerations — in fact, the lack of options is identified as a reason why consumers have been slow to embrace legal modes of consumption.

It is very clear that sending threatening letters to consumers will not be as effective as the copyright industry hopes, but instead addressing high costs, low availability, and often significantly delayed release dates compared to the rest of the world will be much more effective.

It is also telling that TNS found that consumers who consume from both legitimate and infringing sources spend more money on content than those who consume all of their content legally — it appears many pirates do pay for content after all!

But it must be stressed: these findings do not reveal anything that we do not already know and that has not already been said before, at great length.

Had the government actually paid attention to the research that has already been conducted, as well as the successful examples of business models that have adapted to meet changing consumer demands, the measures being adopted in Australia would have been recognised at the start as unnecessary and futile.

The Pirate Party does, however, have some concerns about the report itself, which demonstrates a limited technical understanding and an overly simplistic approach to ‘legal’ and ‘illegal’ consumption.

The TNS report leaves a lot to be desired in the way that it handles technologies that can be used to infringe copyright, such that it does feel a little like the blind leading the blind.

It would be novel, but useful, to have government — and opposition — policy directed by persons with the requisite degree of technical knowledge in these areas.

The report also conflated accessing an overseas version of a service like Netflix with illegal consumption, despite it currently being legal under Australian law to do so.

This is erroneous at best and does, to an extent, undermine the validity of the research in terms of the rates of illegal or illegitimate consumption of content.

* https://www.communications.gov.au/sites/g/files/net301/f/DeptComms%20Online%20Copyright%20Infringement%20Report%20FINAL%20.PDF

 

 


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