Content owners aim to curtail piracy in Australia with an online listing of services where consumers can legally obtain music, movies, video games and other material.
The Digital Content Guide was launched today by APRA AMCOS, the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA), the Australian Screen Association (ASA), Copyright Agency Ltd, News Corp Limited, Foxtel and Village Roadshow Limited.
The website provides information on legitimate sites where users can rent, buy or subscribe to digital content.
“People are passionate about entertainment and we are passionate about creating it,” said Actors’ Equity president, Simon Burke.
“Therefore, it’s critical to ensure that the creative industries receive the support they need, through legitimate use, so that the 900,000 Australians they employ can continue to make them thrive.”
However, IBRS analyst Guy Cranswick criticised the guide as looking like “it was put together last weekend".
“It's presented as a front for Australian copyright producers but most of it is foreign and about foreign rights management.”
He noted that some listed services are not yet available including the Dendy Cinema streaming service, and the absence of soccer in the sports section seems like an omission.
Also, there is no discussion of what services provide the best deal for content creators, he said. “Spotify is legal but is heavily criticised for giving artists very little revenue.”
Absent from the guide, of course, is Netflix. The subscription service is not yet available in Australia, but many Australians use the service anyway by circumventing its geo-blocking using a VPN.
Netflix is the second most popular paid-content media company in Australia, representing 27 per cent of the subscription rental media service market in Australia, according to the August 2014 issue of Choice Magazine.
Cranswick said that the popularity of Netflix in Australia shows that “people do want to pay for content when the price is right and done the right way.".
“The Australian distributors, Foxtel/Telstra, Seven, Nine and Ten are using typical rent seeking strategies to control content within a market,” he said.
“There has been some speculation that there will be a huge shake out – even a bloodbath – when Netflix officially comes to Australia, but based on the current reach it has in Australia, it would be hard to make a business case to go with that route.”
Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull slammed digital pirates in a post yesterday on his blog.
“Every time a movie or a TV show is accessed in breach of copyright, all of those people who contributed to making that work lose out,” Turnbull wrote.
“Nobody would justify going into a supermarket and stealing their weekly grocery order, or stealing a car. Not many people would think it was okay to rip off the latest album, make your own CDs and sell them on the streets or Sydney, or knock off a designer label for that matter, or pass off a cheap white spirit as ‘Bacardi’ when it isn’t.”
“But many of us seem to think that on the Internet the usual rules don't apply and stuff you would normally pay for in the analogue world, you can swipe for nothing online without feeling bad about it.”
The government released a discussion paper (PDF) on copyright issues last week.
The paper proposed major changes to copyright law, including a process whereby rights holders can apply for court orders that would force ISPs to block access to websites.
While rights holders and copyright organisations supported the paper’s proposals, ISPs and consumer advocates raised red flags because it explicitly seeks to undo the victory of iiNet in a case brought against the ISP by movie studios.