Foxtel’s Freudenstein: Content piracy ‘serious issue’

Piracy of content in Australia is a serious issue that can be fixed with the right legislative framework, according to Foxtel CEO Richard Freudenstein.

Participating in a one-to-one ‘In Conversation’ session at the Screen Forever conference in Victoria, Freudenstein revealed that Australians were the biggest downloaders of the final episode of US series Breaking Bad, comprising 16 per cent of the world’s traffic in illegally downloaded copies of the episode in its first 12 hours after US broadcast.

“It’s such a serious issue. And no one in this country realises how serious it is,” he claimed, advising delegates that there was a quick legislative fix but that Australia didn’t have the legislative framework to create any deterrent at all. “All we need is some legislation which will get the ISPs to block illegal sites and send notices to people who are file-sharing,” he suggested, noting that recent practice in Europe showed first notices to downloaders had immediate effect.

Reports emerged late October that Australia’s new conservative government was seeking to restart anti-piracy initiatives that stalled following a failure of ISPs and content owners to agree a common approach, leading to the withdrawal of leading ISP iiNet from an online copyright infringement notice trial in December 2012. New Attorney-General George Brandis is understood to have made copyright piracy a priority, with the likelihood that there would be a renewed focus on the supply side of piracy, with the intention that online piracy could be affected by disabling access to websites that facilitate illegal downloads.

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