Recommendations include ISPS issuing graduated warnings to users and throttling internet speeds for persistent offenders.
In a press release titled “Foxtel applauds Government action to stem online piracy” Foxtel CEO Richard Freudenstein backed the government’s move towards protecting copyright material.
It follows recent press articles that have noted the STV provider’s deal with HBO that ensured it was the only legal outlet for Game of Thrones during its broadcast season, while fans flocked to online piracy.
“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,” Freudenstein said.
“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.”
The Press Release continued:
Foxtel believes the responsibility for combating illegal downloading doesn’t just stop with the government, it’s something that needs to be shouldered by everyone. 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. ISP’s should also assist by mitigating, to the extent they can, use of their networks for unauthorised purposes. 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.
For its part, Foxtel goes to great lengths through its “Express from the US” effort to bring content to subscribers as soon as possible. Moreover, Foxtel has made a massive investment 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.
Debates in content platforms, both legal and illegal, have been a hot potato in recent months. While unions have stood strong on the protection of copyright material, new platforms are emerging with regularity and the number of Australians by-passing geo-blocking to access Netflix is rising.
While Foxtel did offer a discount for subscriptions during Game of Thrones, the company has also held off screening key titles such as The Leftovers and Penny Dreadful. Not quite everything is “Express from the US.”
Meanwhile ASTRA released a further statement that indicated an Auspoll survey found 60% of respondents agreed that individuals who facilitate piracy should face prosecution. According to the release, only 11% disagreed.
53% believe government should ‘do more’ to prevent television piracy, with only 12% in disagreement.
“The majority of Australians will welcome measures that improve education about piracy and encourage ISPs to take reasonable steps to prevent it,” said ASTRA CEO Andrew Maiden.
“Those who download pirate television content are not only breaking the law, they are undermining investment in local television production and jeopardising the jobs of Australians who work in the sector.”
But while there were no details on how the survey was conducted, it’s unclear if the same respondents would support more legal options to purchase content, such as iTunes.
In my experience that’s what most ordinary Australians want: the ability to legally buy content for their favourite shows at a reasonable price, released in sync with their US premiere. Over time this would surely reduce illegal piracy.
While Foxtel and ASTRA understandably take a strong political stand on content theft, I’m not so sure “applauding the government’s stand” so publicly is going to win them any friends.
That exclusive Game of Thrones deal had as much of an impact as the death of Joffrey.