Here's How Malcolm Turnbull Proposes Fixing Australia's Piracy Problem

Photo: Getty / Stefan Postles (File)

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull is pushing the onus onto content owners in the debate over who needs to take charge in combating Australia’s ongoing piracy problem.

Turnbull said content production companies need to come up with more affordable ways to distribute their product if Australia wants to reduce the incentive for illegal downloads.

A government discussion paper on copyright infringement which was leaked last week outlined proposals to block international pirating host websites – like Pirate Bay – and encourage Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to stop users illegally downloading movies, television shows and music.

But on ABC radio this morning Turnbull challenged content owners to consider issues such as price and availability for Australians if internet piracy is to be diminished.

“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,” Turnbull told ABC Radio, pointing to the success of services like Spotify and Pandora with the music industry.

Turnbull showed little enthusiasm for the measures canvassed in the options paper that would include Internet Service Providers penalising users for pirating content.

Australia has one of the highest rates of online piracy in the world and famously had more residents downloading the first episode of the new series of Game of Thrones than any other country.

A new survey released by Essential Media Communications revealed that 58 per cent of Australians are concerned that content isn’t available in Australia as quickly as it is in other territories, forcing us to pirate material for the sake of convenience. Almost 80 per cent of Australians are also concerned about being charged significantly more than customers in the US for downloadable digital products such as music, movies, software programs and games.

Consumer group CHOICE said Australians pay 50 per cent more than US consumers on iTunes for the Top 50 songs.

Turnbull says that while it may be acceptable for ISPs to deliver warning notices to pirating customers – at the expense of the copyright owner – it is unreasonable to force them to take repeated action against consumers obtaining content illegally.

“There are some people in the content industry who believe that the costs should be borne in whole or part by the telecommunications sector – by the ISPs… I don’t find that a persuasive argument,” Turnbull said.

Proposals included in the discussion paper would enable content rights holders to apply for court orders forcing ISPs to ban certain websites and a move to adjust the Copyright Act so ISPs would be liable for allowing access to illegal content.

Turnbull offered up New Zealand’s three-strike, anti-piracy system as an example of a more successful system, yet the discussion paper doesn’t offer much in the way of public response to this type of scheme or similar alternatives.

More at Gizmodo.

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