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Australian MP: ‘Anti-piracy rules won’t work’

Ed Husic, Australia’s Shadow Parliamentary Secretary to the Shadow Treasurer, has suggested that consumers aren’t all to blame for piracy, with governments and business having to step up and offer people what they want, and that “bureaucratic hammers” will do little to reform a market problem.

Writing in Labor Party publication Labor Herald on ‘Piracy and reform in the digital age’, he says that “high prices don’t justify online piracy, nothing does. Creating content costs a lot of time, effort and money – the last thing you want to see is that economic value drained away via piracy. But as much as we should look at this issue through the eyes of a sector that is losing a lot of money through piracy, we should also look through the eyes of consumers who doing the right thing – properly buying content but being ripped off in the process.”

“Theoretically, the costs of physically getting a product to Australia, for example a DVD, have been eliminated – therefore the prices should drop considerably. But this hasn’t happened because many rights holders won’t pass these savings on to customers or free up the way consumers get content. As a result, some consumers turn to websites offering free, pirated material,” he notes.

“Since the Abbott Government’s been elected it’s been, to draw on a well-known phrase: tough on piracy – but not tough on the causes of piracy. The Abbott Government’s Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015 will let rights holders (e.g. entertainment and content creators and providers) apply for legal injunctions to force Internet Service Providers to block websites associated with copyright infringement. The Bill would effectively be site-blocking legislation. The Abbott Government has refused to comprehensively address concerns that its legislation will affect the use of virtual private networks to access content not readily available in Australia, largely because this access has been denied by rights holders,” he states

“Apart from the proposed site blocking legislation, the telecommunications sector has been pressured into developing a new anti-piracy industry code, which essentially aims to scare consumers into not downloading pirated content. But legislative, bureaucratic hammers will do little to reform a market problem,” he warns.

“It’s been shown repeatedly that Australian consumers are willing to pay for products offered at a reasonable price and in a timely fashion. Music streaming giant Spotify boasts that solely bringing its service to Australia reduced music piracy by 20 per cent. Spotify’s independent research shows that 55 per cent of people aged 18-29 pirate less when offered streaming choices. Netflix is predicted to have the same impact on video content. Until this government and business gets tough on the causes of piracy, it’s hard to see a long term, sustained reduction in piracy,” he says.

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