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Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA), Australia’s leading voice for digital rights since 1994, has launched caniwatchit.com.au, a website that provides information about the legal availability in Australia of the top ten most infringed movies worldwide. EFA has also published a submission guide for people interested in responding to the government’s Online Copyright Infringement Discussion Paper.
According to figures on the caniwatchit.com.au site, 70 per cent of this past week’s 10 most pirated films are not legally available in Australia.
According to the EFA, it’s a little known fact that Australians are second only to the US on a per capita basis in terms of revenue from sales of digital consumer goods. While Australians may have led the world in infringing the copyright of Game of Thrones, it was also the single most purchased film or TV show in Australia in 2013.
EFA Chair David Cake said that with the government’s recent launch of a Discussion Paper on Online Copyright Infringement, it was once again the ‘stick approach’ with no reciprocal responsibility on the part of copyright owners to provide timely, reasonably priced access to content that would make it easier for Australian consumers to exert their clear preference for accessing content legally.
“Should the government’s proposals be enacted, they will place an additional cost burden on Australian consumers via additional compliance costs for ISPs, forcing Australian consumers to pay a premium on digital content to support legacy business models. The proposals will also enable copyright owners to continue to starve Australian consumers of the range of content legally available to consumers in other countries, such as the United States,” he declared.
According to the EFA, the popularity of Netflix among Australian consumers shows they are willing to pay reasonable prices for timely access to quality content. The fact that there are technical hurdles involved in circumventing the Netflix’s geoblocking shows just how keen many Australian consumers are to access and pay for content legally, it suggests.
EFA welcomes the recent announcement from media group Village Roadshow that it is looking to reduce its prices for digital movies in Australia, a move it suggest is is well overdue, as demonstrated by the price to download the Australian-produced Lego Movie, which is available for US$19.99 (AU$21.45) in the US, but which costs AU$24.99 in Australia. At this stage however, this is just an announcement. EFA looks forward to this becoming a reality.
The EFA notes that it has been over 12 months since the release of the IT Pricing Inquiry report, and Australians are still awaiting a response from the government to the issues of geoblocking and the so-called ‘Australia Tax’ which sees Australians routinely charged a premium for access to digital goods.
The IT Pricing Inquiry report found that, on average, Australians pay:
50 per cent more for professional software
46 per cent more for hardware
52 per cent more for music
84 per cent more for games
16 per cent more for ebooks
The EFA says that if the government is serious about addressing online copyright infringement, it needs to urgently take take meaningful action to address the issues raised by the following reviews:
the IT Pricing Inquiry report
the ALRC’s review of Copyright and the Digital Economy
the Attorney-General’s Department’s review of Technical Protection Measures – submissions for which closed in 2011, however no report has just been published
The EFA is encouraging all Australians with an interest in consuming digital content to respond to the government’s Online Copyright Infringement Discussion Paper.
To assist people with understanding the proposals raised in this paper, EFA has published a summary of the Discussion Paper and a guide to making submissions.