Foxtel chief executive Richard Freudenstein has called on Australia’s federal government to intervene in online piracy negotiations, suggesting that failure to fight illegal downloading before the national broadband network is rolled out could “devastate traditional content creation industries”. He made his comments at the ASTRA 2013 Conference in Sydney.
He nevertheless argued that governments should only intervene where there was clear evidence of market failure or where they could promote investment, innovation and the development of dynamic sectors such as the media and content creation industries. “One area that does not require further restrictive regulation is media ownership and control,” he claimed, pointing instead to online piracy and restricting illegal access to content as activities meriting government action.
“We need to have an appropriate system in place before the NBN is rolled out – in whatever form that happens – because with super fast broadband the flood gates could really open,” he warned delegates. “It is time something was done. We will be calling on both the Government and Opposition to develop policies that protect copyright owners and ensure the viability of the content creation industries.”
According to Freudenstein, Australia needed to adopt a copyright regime similar to that implemented in the US, France and New Zealand, where ISPs have agreed to passing on warning notices to Internet users found to have illegally downloaded material.
The federal Attorney-General’s Department instigated talks between content owners and ISPs for a similar system in Australia in 2011, but these ground to a halt when ISP iiNet withdrew from a proposed trial of the system.