The reason we pirate, some say, is twofold: price and availability. Photo: Netflix
Behind the scenes, there has been intense lobbying of governments for years from the content industry, where the focus has been single-minded: “piracy is illegal, piracy is a problem, piracy must be stopped and prosecuted wherever possible”. The new legislation passed this week exists thanks to content industry lobbying, and unsurprisingly, they’re well pleased to see site-blocking now enshrined in law. No surprises there – after all, no business is going to be content to sit idly by and watch potential customers consume their product without paying for it. But there’s a question they never seem to address – why are Australians in particular so fond of hopping on board the pirate ship to get hold of their favourite shows, movies and music?
The reason, some say, is twofold: price and availability. Australia has long been something of a backwater to global content creators, who traditionally have been perfectly happy to delay releasing TV shows, movies and even music here until it suits them. And when they finally do get around to it – if at all – they’ll often take advantage of the fact that pricing in Australia has traditionally been inflated (iTunes music downloads, for example, are around 75% more expensive here). Or the price inflation is done in a different way – such as with Game of Thrones, which has become something of a banner example for those arguing the reasons why people pirate. With the Australian rights locked in by Foxtel, it was removed from the Australian iTunes store in order to give people only one choice if they wanted to pay to view the show, a non-choice many resented due to its cost.
None of this justifies piracy, of course, but it goes some way towards explaining why it happens – and surely, rather than beating people about the head with the naughty stick, content owners might find themselves better off in the long term if they looked more closely at what drives people into the world of dubious downloading in the first place.