Scumbag theft

kim williamsIn a keynote address to the Australian International Movie Convention, News Limited CEO Kim Williams argued that download films, TV shows or music without paying for it is no better than looting

My subject today is copyright. It’s a topic as potentially dry as a pub with no beer. Its mere mention makes you think of lawyers. And fees. And trademarks. And fine print. So let’s put that all aside for a moment and talk about what copyright is really about. Let’s cut right to the chase. Copyright is about enabling the production of great art and great commercial work – hopefully both. It’s about nurturing the creative process. It’s about supporting business cases and employment. About getting the noblest imaginings of the human mind and human emotions into a form that the whole world can see and share.

If you want to know why you should care about copyright, here’s a little exercise you can all do.

Think about the ten greatest pieces of art that you couldn’t live without.

It might be the ten best pieces of music you have ever heard—the ones that really lift your soul. Beethoven’s Ninth perhaps.

Or the ten greatest books you have ever read—the ones that changed the way you view the world like a great piece of history by Barbara Tuchmann or a novel by Jonathan Franzen or Peter Carey.

Or the ten greatest television series you’ve ever seen—the ones that sparked your interests as a child or moved you to tears on the living room couch. Roots perhaps, or maybe Brideshead Revisited. What about Cloudstreet or Bodyline, Underbelly, or Howzat! Kerry Packers War?

Or the ten greatest movies you have ever seen—the most sublime, the most moving, the most hilarious.

Then try to imagine a world in which those ten great works of art were never created. Because that’s what happens when there is no way for creators to enforce their rights.

When there is no way for great artists to make a living from their work, those artists become, well… let’s choose the popular nemisis – lawyers.

And with due respect to all the law school graduates here today, thank God Anna Funder quit her job as a commercial litigant and wrote Stasiland and her Miles Franklin Award-winning novel, All That I Am instead.

At the risk of turning this speech into a Nick Hornby movie, in which the protagonist reels off lists of his favourite things, I thought I’d give this experiment a go myself. I thought I’d talk a little about my top ten films. Here they are, from one to ten.

  1. Amarcord−−Frederick Fellini−−my all time favourite film. Intensely personal, loving of community and tinged with nostalgia and clarity about people and the cavalcade of human events that affect one’s life rendered with a poignancy that is literally unforgettable.
  2. The Godfather−−Francis Ford Coppola−−quite simply the modern American masterpiece that reinvented epic narrative drama with intense intimacy and grand spectacle whilst capturing a cultural resonance that was wholly original.
  3. The Rules of the Game−−Jean Renoir−−for me a timeless humanist drama which captivates my memory still after 40 years.
  4. Close to Eden−−Nikita Mikhalkov−−the power of the cinema to tell a unique affecting original story like no other medium.
  5. Gallipoli−−Peter Weir−−history rendered exquisitely so that it lives for an audience with power and enduring meaning. It captures the horror of war with all the insight and poignancy of Wilfred Owen. And the stupidity of so many of the generals. And what a line-up of home-grown acting talent, too.
  6. Mad Max 2−−George Miller−−the best modern post apocalypse heroic Greek style drama which is a true Australian masterpiece. George Miller is an Australian artistic genius, no doubt about it.
  7. An Angel at My Table−−Jane Campion−−is for me one of the great story telling creations of the nineties. I shall love it forever.
  8. The Great Dictator−−Charlie Chaplin−−the grandest and most cutting film of all about Hitler and yet it is silent and a brilliant mix of slapstick and satire. Art in the service of democracy, giving the world a reason to fight the Second World War.
  9. Jedda−−Charles Chauvel−−my lifelong Australian cinematic hero who reflects all the best aspects of cheerful Aussie persistence, optimism and true one of a kind originality.


10. Ten Canoes−−by Rolf de Heer and Peter Djiggir−−indigenous, inspired, funny, fascinating and wholly absorbing. Makes one proud to live here and be part of this country as do Bran Nue Dae and The Sapphires.

And by the way, if I can convince you of nothing else today, see The Sapphires. I guarantee you will thank me that you did.

I should say to you – as a slight digression from my theme – that for someone who loves movies it is terrific to lead News. For there is no media company in Australia that does more for movies. That carries more reviews across print and digital. That covers more events. That illuminates our stars and your products better. That connects with millions and millions of Australians. And that is – if I may venture – the best way of getting people into your cinemas. The News team is here this week and would be happy to discuss with you ways that we can work together. But like I said, I digress.

Ladies and gentlemen, without those ten great films, without ten great songs or poems or paintings or novels, our lives would still be worth living, certainly, but they wouldn’t be the same.

And without five of them, our nation wouldn’t be the same. Imagine if we didn’t have them. And imagine if we were denied them because their creators were starved out of their trade before they produced their masterpieces. Imagine, I’m saying, if we didn’t have decent copyright laws.

Let’s think for a moment about two of the greatest creative geniuses of all time, certainly two of the greatest in the English language: William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens. If Shakespeare and Dickens were alive today it’s my bet they would either be Hollywood script writers or creating great television drama for HBO. They would be the dons in a profession that has recently boasted names like David Mamet, Sidney Lumet and Dalton Trumbo, as well as our own Andrew Bovell, John Collee and Baz Luhrmann.

Both Shakespeare and Dickens were prolific and famous in their own times. Both men were able to retire comparatively wealthy because they had a means of monetising their art. For Shakespeare it lay in being part of a theatre able to set up a gate and only let in those able to part with a few pennies for standing room or a bit more for a seat. For Dickens it was selling his stories to subscription-only magazines and selling tickets to his popular book readings. The leakage of money would certainly have been there. No doubt a few people jumped the fence at the Globe or borrowed their friends’ magazines. Others perhaps listened to Dickens’ readings through a hole in the wall. But they would not have faced the truly astounding levels of intellectual theft they would face today in the age of digital publishing and distribution.

Imagine if you will, a rival theatre setting itself up across the Thames from the Globe, charging one-fifth the door price to see a rendition of Julius Caesar, using a script they had transcribed from the official performance. Or imagine a free magazine that serialised Oliver Twist, re-typeset without permission from Bentley’s Miscellany the day after the original’s publication. There may have been no Hamlet and no Great Expectations. No literary legends; just a couple of under-appreciated writers starving in their London garrets, now the subjects of literature PhD dissertations, instead of hundreds upon hundreds of movie and television adaptations.

So imagine what we may be losing today. Imagine the great works that are not being produced because the digital bandits are creating virtual pirate Globe Theatres and virtual literary magazines and making off with possibly 65 percent of the profits.

If you think I’m exaggerating, think again, because the copyright bandits of the paper age of Shakespeare and Dickens had nothing on the copyright kleptomaniacs of the digital age.

And as a result, digital piracy is undermining the business case of cultural production to a greater extent than ever before.

The statistics about copyright theft over the Internet are mind-boggling.

The Intellectual Property Awareness Foundation’s research report for 2012 tells us that more that 37 percent of Australians admit to having downloaded material illegally. Some 60 percent of persistent downloaders download illegally at least once per week. Usually TV programs and movies.

Some sources estimate that as much as 65 percent of all material consumed via bittorrent is downloaded illegally. 1

And these persistent downloaders are far less likely than others to purchase DVDs, download pay-per-view programming, buy content from iTunes or even go to the movies. That’s money out of all our pockets. And culture taken from all our lives. And cultural development taken from our nation.

If you don’t believe the scale of these figures, here’s a little test. Go to one of the more ‘hip’ cafes in Melbourne’s inner northern suburbs−−you know, the sort of place where they make coffee in devices that look like the Pyrex beakers and test-tubes you used in chemistry classes when you were at school. And ask the young people there what they are currently watching on TV. You might hear responses like:

‘Oh, last night’s episode of Mad Men, of course.’

Or, ‘last night’s episode of Downton Abbey.’

Or, ‘last night’s episode of Boardwalk Empire.’

They’re not talking about last night in Melbourne, or the latest series bought by Australian networks. They’re talking about last night in New York or London. They’re downloading it free from illegal websites within hours or minutes of it appearing on TV in the US or the UK. The more sophisticated thieves will have watched it live in US or UK time.

If you ask them what movies they’ve seen, there’s a fair chance they haven’t even been released here yet. How many people, I wonder, had already seen Downton Abbey or Mad Men or Bored to Death before they screened here? This illegal viewing is fast becoming the norm in certain circles. And there’s a good chance those latest release movies haven’t been seen at the cinema, but on iPads or on DVDs using a pirate copy one of their friends is handing around.

If you want to know how they manage this amazing feat, you don’t have to go far to find out. I know you are all familiar with the dark horror of it. All you have to do is type words like “download free UK TV” into a search engine and someone will tell you, quite brazenly, how to break the law and steal other people’s property and worse still ad serving technologies will deliver up ads supporting this scumbag theft with real Australian ads for major finance, telco and other products in Australia! They entrepreneur revenues from real advertisers with their ill gotten material blithely indifferent to the economic havoc it occasions.

It’s easy.

You join a pirate torrent site. There are thousands of them. Take your pick of latest release films.

If that doesn’t take your fancy, you can get it direct from the source, on the UK and US television networks’ own catch-up sites.

Of course, you will first have to figure out how to evade geographical IP scanning, which you do by enlisting third parties as proxies, by creating what’s known as a tunnel, and by purchasing software that hides your IP address.

You may need other software to convert what you have downloaded into watchable formats, or a format which you burn to a disk or USB device to share with friends.

With the most sophisticated pirate software you can even illegally watch TV live, with the benefits of fast forwarding, rewinding and even skipping commercials.

All… supposedly… for…free… But is it really free?

Of course not. As we all know, with the exceptions of friendship, sunshine and the air we breathe, nothing comes for free.

First of course there’s download charges from your ISP.

Then, there’s all the illegal downloading software you have to buy—and the fact that the only way to buy it is by giving your credit card details to someone called Ivan who lives in a quaint little village on the Russian steppe. Or to a criminal with a fake name living in New Zealand.

And the cost of the new hard drive you’re going to need if the Russians crash your computer… and you lose all your family photographs and movies, including that footage of your youngest child’s very first steps that you forgot to copy to disk.

Not to mention the cost of all your time watching the stuff downloaded… 1 percent…. 3 percent…. [slower] 5 percent…. And so on, and so on…. Only to find it’s such poor quality it’s unwatchable.

And all those sleepless nights, knowing you’ve done the wrong thing, realising you may have cost your uni friends potential jobs, and wondering if, one day, you’re going to be prosecuted for it.

It’s all so cool, isn’t it, being part of the digital underground. Actually, there’s nothing romantic about it at all. The perpetrators are digital suckers, not digital freedom fighters. But even though the costs are much greater than you think, the costs to society are far greater.

In reality, what these sorts of sites do is help you steal. Morally it’s no different from telling you where the keys are to the local DVD store, what times the shop is left un- attended, how to switch-off its and electronic alarm system. All with a catalogue of the current best-sellers all thrown in.

Stealing from shops has always been illegal, and so should stealing from HBO or Fox or Harper Collins or small Australian film makers.

Last year we saw outrage at ill-educated young rioters in London throwing bricks through shop windows to steal pairs of expensive new training shoes. Well, digital content, whether it be in the form of books, music, movies or TV programs, is a new hot consumer item, and illegally downloading it is the equivalent of smashing a window and taking it. But the scale of this theft makes the London riots of last year look like children stealing a lolly from a shop. Put simply theft is not cool – never has been never will be.

It may be hidden from view, ladies and gentlemen, but internet piracy has become the biggest heist since Ronnie Biggs took an interest in trains. One estimate, states that piracy of movies cost the Australian economy $1.37 billion million last year2. And that’s just movies. In the music business 28% internet users globally regularly access unlicensed sites that contain copyrighted music according to the music industry3.

I think that’s likely to be a big under-estimate.

It is getting worse and will get even worse still once everyone in Australia has access to super-speed broadband through the National Broadband Network—Some say internet traffic will quadruple between now and 2016.

So, the big question: What should be done?

In the most general terms all of us—content providers, media companies, ISPs and especially legislators—need to recognise that we live in a new era. We live and do business in the digital age, but our copyright laws continue to exist in the analogue era and the paper age. Our mind-set for dealing with this problem simply has to change. Digital property isn’t just a quirky add-on to our economy any more—increasingly it is dominating our economy, and it’s time we recognised its importance to our future prosperity. We have to protect it. Protecting it is not only fundamental to sustaining today’s creative industries and everyone they employ, but it’s fundamental to ensuring that we can build the bold digital companies of the future that politicians so often talk about.

And this change in our view—from an analogue to a digital mind-set—must be reflected in new copyright framework.

Today on behalf of large media companies like mine…

…on behalf of the movie companies for whom many of you work…

…on behalf of musicians, actors, writers, photographers, and production specialists who work long hours, often for modest salaries and with poor job security…

…all the way down to the gaffers and grips and lighting technicians…

… the people who work for the mobile canteens that serve out-door production shoots…

..and all the future entrepreneurs and creators in as yet unformed digital companies

…I am asking for a new set of copyright laws that protect our work from theft.


‘Theft.’ Robbery. Stealing. Pilfering. Larceny. Shoplifting. And plain pinching.

And I’m asking for copyright laws that will also protect the singers of songs, writers of books and producers of games.

What the Australian production and distribution industry needs are renovated legal underpinnings that acknowledge the primary right of copyright owners to exploit their work in the certain knowledge that theft will be prevented and punished equally. Without that core commercial underpinning the outlook for our industry−−the digital entertainment industry−−is grim indeed.

Whilst there is endless talk about the NBN there is yet to be any formal acknowledgement that the legislative and enforcement frameworks are disastrously outmoded and defective to sustain any relevance in confronting a modern high speed digital delivery world.

Without immediate and wholesale makeover we are condemning our nation to relentless criminal rip-off and plunder of original IP on an unprecedented scale which will make the current 65 percent rate of consumption being of stolen material look like a pathetically modest nun’s picnic.

If our creators are to stand strong and develop commercial destinies they deserve then the law must change.

Australia needs a louder conversation about this issue. And I believe that conversation should start with these two broad principles:

(1) the need for responsibility for stopping piracy to lie where it should; and

(2) the need for mitigations that actually dissuade people from stealing other people’s intellectual property be it effective action by ISPs against inveterate illegal down loaders or laws that work in the digital age.

This is an issue for which few want to say ‘I am responsible for my own behaviour.’

The main perpetrators, whilst usually acknowledging the illegality of what they do, want to put the blame elsewhere.

Some don’t care, having no moral code at all, or kid themselves that they’re modern-day Robin Hood heroes. Robbin, yes. Hoods, yes. Heroes, no!

Others say it’s a victimless crime, although thanks to public education efforts, including the excellent work of IPAF, that mistaken view is turning around.

Seven out of ten illegal downloaders say they download illegally because there are few legal alternatives. I guess they mustn’t have heard of catch-up TV, or iTunes, or Foxtel, or DVD rentals, or taking their girlfriend out to the movies.

Individuals must take responsibility for their own illegal behaviour—and greater education campaigns will assist that.

But Internet Service Providers must take responsibility too to tackle the problem of repeat offenders who use their networks.

IPAF consumer research has found 73 percent say they would stop if that notification came with a threat to slow down or halt downloading if their illegal downloading continued.

To my mind this constitutes a powerful and effective deterrent that Australia should now be contemplating. And it meets the second principle I mentioned just now−−that any approach to digital copyright protection needs to capture all forms of piracy on the net and have effective mitigations and penalties.

I believe this is no different from the idea of fast food providers doing their bit to tackle obesity. It’s about responsible industries earning their social license to market their products by recognising the damage that inappropriate consumption can cause.

One other organisation must also, logically, take some of the responsibility for stopping illegal downloading. That’s the National Broadband Network. It’s about to become our public digital super-highway. Whilst everyone who rides on a highway has a duty to drive responsibly, the highway owners also have a duty to drivers to keep their roads safe and in good condition. The same principle applies

Especially because it is a public system, I believe the NBN has a special duty of care to provide a safe super-highway for our digital economy. Just like a Solicitor-General is expected to act as a model litigant in the legal system, a publicly-created NBN should be expected to act as a model digital network—setting the ethical, legal and commercial standards for all else to follow. Given the speed with which piracy is growing and the way in which it morphs into other forms, I believe it would be appropriate for the NBN to be included in any code and be obligated to take reasonable steps to stop piracy.

Now of course it’s easy for us in the digital entertainment industry to gather here and expect our legislators and our distributors to do all the work for us. After all, it’s we who stand to gain from a cleaned up industry, so we have a duty to act too.

Market research tells us that the two excuses most commonly used by illegal downloaders are that they didn’t know that what they were doing was in fact illegal, and that there are a lack of affordable and legal alternatives to see recent release movies and television programs.

We have to counter this in two ways.

First, by continuing the public education efforts already underway. But I think we can do better.

And second, by meeting the hunger for more digital content.

I reject the assertion that there is any sort of shortage of digital content. Even if there were, it constitutes a very poor defence.

‘Your honour, I did smash that window, and I did steal that piece of jewellery, because the shop was shut, and anyway they were asking too much for it.’

My response is an unequivocal -‘Take him down constable,’.

The fact is, more and more legal content is going on line every day. And there are more sites offering legal content, more easily and at lower cost to you computers and mobile devices. And cinema releases increasingly are dated worldwide as you all know all too well. And Foxtel provides a profusion of fresh available content —including the most recent episodes of the hippest TV dramas and comedies, and the latest pay-per-view movies on Foxtel On Demand and Foxtel on XBox360.

You can also now get movies from some two-dozen sites for just $2.99 each. More such sites are being added every day.

You can now get just about any new release book in eBook form. Fifty Shades of Grey is selling 50 percent in electronic form. Interestingly it started on line and has now moved to print. For the record I have not read it. Yet!

So there are no excuses for behaving illegally. And more reasons to behave legally every day.

Ladies and gentlemen, the film industry has faced a great many changes in its more than century-long history. We’ve seen it change from silent to talk, black-and-white to colour, cinema to VHS, and chemical tape to digits on a chip.

At each stage, the grand idea of the motion picture, including its original conception as something that happens communally in theatre houses, has managed to fight back. Those of you old enough will remember that when video came and everyone predicted the end of cinemas, they came back with Dolby Surround Sound, Sensurround, wide screens, and now 3D.

No challenge has yet beaten the great artists of the screen. Technical invention has always come to their aid.

I doubt that even digital piracy will defeat the artistic urge that drives the great film- makers we all love. Imagine Fellini or George Miller or Francis Ford Coppola giving in to pasty-faced late-night video thieves. Our industry will live on. But it won’t do so with the vigour and vitality it has enjoyed until now if the damage done by illegal copyright breaching isn’t tackled and tackled vigorously. Too many creative opportunities will be lost.

Right now, on the brink of a new era of digital uptake through the establishment of the NBN is the time to act to strengthen our digital copyright laws and bring them into the digital age. If we all speak out together to protect this great industry—this great art form—that we love, I’m certain we will succeed.


  1. Paul
    21 Aug 12
    8:48 pm

  2. It’s extremely simple. The consumer base has a need not being filled. Legislation can not keep up with technology and pursuing that line will do little to change behaviour. Actually work to fill what consumers want and they’ll take it up. Piracy is easier than paying. Make a paid service at easy as piracy. That means wide selections of material available when people want that’s not tied to overly restrictive playback DRM (either proprietary hardware or software). Steam and iTunes have done wonders to curb game and music piracy and now video distributors need to step up their game.

  3. Mike
    21 Aug 12
    10:43 pm

  4. Dear “large media companies”

    ” the film industry has faced a great many changes in its more than century-long history. We’ve seen it change from silent to talk, black-and-white to colour, cinema to VHS, and chemical tape to digits on a chip.” – and the film industry resisted every one of these changes with similar rhetoric.

    Please make your content for sale, and stop making the small percentage that is for sale so unattractive compared to the alternative even leaving price issues out of it.

    Don’t put region controls on DVDs.

    Don’t put compulsory anti-theft ads on DVDs which lecture people who have paid for the content, are never seen by those who don’t, and which often scare children. Don’t make us watch ads for other movies (disabling skip ahead) – yes I’m looking at you Disney.

    Don’t restrict online sales by geolocking.

    Don”t make online copies more expensive than DVDs which come with extra content.

    Don’t price goods so that non-US buyers are punished irrespective of where the USD is in relation to local currency.

    Do release content simultaneously around the world. Don’t talk up the product globally on Facebook and Twitter and then refuse to sell it to 2/3 of the globe.

    Don’t sell compressed digital music at a higher rate than having uncompressed music posted to you on DVD.

    Please honour the creators of digital media by labelling it with its writers and composers, instead of seeing these people as irrelevant in the presentation and sale of content.

    Please stop releasing eBooks of OCR-ed text with more spelling and layout errors than a monkey would produce at a word–processor.

    If you’re a global media company with fingers in every publishing medium, why do you consider it OK to relay the release of a TV show or topical release, yet distribute magazine and newspaper content into the same market that discusses those releases, even to the point of providing spoilers on the cover of the magazines?

    Please demonstrate some joined-up thinking on these issues.

  5. Greg
    21 Aug 12
    11:30 pm

  6. You don’t have to pay to use torrent software.

    You can also check the reliability of a torrent based on the comments and uploader.

    And it really does suck that we have to wait for American films like the Avengers even though it was released here first. Your such an excellent journalist!

    You must be talking about smaller scale films like Joss Whedon’s Cabin in the Woods which only got released at one cinema in Australia…

    If you do abit of research you’ll find alot of films benefit from torrents… eg: The man from earth, zeitgeist.

    As for downloading Australian films… (which I can only assume you were implying), when was the last time you downloaded a DVDrip of an Australian film before it came to the cinemas, or so that you didn’t have to go to the cinemas… oh that’s right. First cinema… then DVD.

    Welcome to the brave new world! Where artists might have to survive off people admiring their work FOR FREE! Oh no! It was never about the expression itself, and they’re will be no way for them to live now that they’ll be horribly poor!

    Here’s a cool theory of copyright… Creative Commons… seems far more beneficial for society and the artist… though they’re may be less wealth from it, (which is why your probably not mentioning it.)

    I proudly visit the cinema and video store weekly. I also download movies likes its going out of fashion.

    I sincerely hate your article, and hope you crawl into a hole and think about things a little longer.

  7. Me
    22 Aug 12
    9:02 am

  8. Hi Mr Williams

    F*ck your slow shitty business model and your greedy exploitation of Aussie consumers.

    Yes, there are legal alternatives and they crap all over anything NewsLtd offers, but I have to get around geo-blocking to access them.

    Why the hell is that? Am I a second class world citizen?

    No, I don’t want to watch funeral insurance ads ad nauseum with my expensive six month old content – I want to pay reasonably to stream it when it’s available, ad free.

    And to propose the criminalisation of filesharing so you can squeeze us harder… You, sir, are a wretched, greedy beast.

  9. Spack Jarrow
    22 Aug 12
    9:21 am

  10. He has a patchy view of history.
    Shakespeare stole many lines, plots and concepts from his contemporaries, and Dickens, was truly shafted from the US’s weak copyright laws, but was he really impoverished? The majority of pirated material is very popular material and I would like Kim to show us the percentage all of his favourite films make on the general flood of Dark night, which people have seen in record numbers, in the cinema and will do so again from iTunes or Netflix.

    You can’t stop the drug trade by criminalising the use of drugs and you wont stop the illegal downloads of copyrighted entertainment by banning torrents.

    Making your TV programs available worldwide, for a fee, at the same time-everywhere, will do it, since there is immediate access to the content by an eager audience willing to pay the producers for it so long as they get it now. They’ll even sit through your sh**y ads to see it now.

    And the Pirates? well you just fixed all the movie addicts, the pirate sites have no audience for the porn and viagra ads, so they’ll go find something else to do. I promise you, make Netflix and Hulu available to an Australian audience at a reasonable fee and piracy will be greatly reduced.

    So why, in the face of the obvious, will content producers not make content widely available across borders for a fee to willing consumers?

  11. Spack Jarrow
    22 Aug 12
    9:42 am

  12. Oh, and it bears repeating:

  13. FredFrood
    22 Aug 12
    9:55 am

  14. When my choice is to:
    1. avoid going online or run around going “Lalalalalala” with my fingers in my ears and my gaze averted to avoid story ruining spoilers for a television program i really enjoy and have invested time in… while i wait and wait and wait for it to finally be shown some time later at a specific time not of my own choosing, that i have to make sure i rearrange my life around to witness…
    2. go online and torrent the thing, have it in minutes at top quality and then be able to partake in online discussions about it, consume the additional media etc etc and watch the damn thing uninterrupted when it suits Me


    If your product can match the pirated product offering then i would gladly pay it:
    Global release at the same time.
    Good Quality
    Device agnostic.

    Fucking simple, do that and i will throw my money at you.

    Instead you’re all too busy running around trying to feather the pockets of those who add no value to the product and treating us all like criminal even when we DO make a point of paying for stuff, because i dont know about you, but i resent having to sit through unskippable piracy warnings on a product i bloody well paid for.
    That issue alone often drives me to download stuff i have already paid for just so i dont have to be scolded any time i want to watch it.

  15. Dave The Happy Singer
    22 Aug 12
    10:43 am

  16. Does he think that calling copyright infringement ‘theft’ is actually going to convince anyone it is?

  17. Irene
    22 Aug 12
    10:58 am

  18. Kim loves a good rant when it’s one way. How about an actual response to Dick Smith’s enquiries, here:

    (no prizes for guessing that this comment will probably be censored)

  19. Mark Smith
    22 Aug 12
    11:16 am

  20. Very funny coming from an organisation that (allegedly- don’t want to get sued) engaged in the wholesale destruction of other pay-tv companies by pirating their security cards. Truly incredible.

  21. Spack Jarrow
    22 Aug 12
    11:40 am

  22. yes Dave The Happy Singer, he does think that will work, partly because the scary video preceding all DVDs legally purchased or hired keep reminding us that watching downloaded movies is akin to mugging grannies in the streets and shooting police:

  23. LOL
    22 Aug 12
    12:05 pm

  24. Piracy duplicates content.
    Theft does not.

  25. Craig
    22 Aug 12
    12:20 pm

  26. Kim, when an industry calls a large proportion of their customers thieves and seeks legal redress (asking governments to increase regulation and control) to force their customers into line we’re not witnessing market failure, we’re witnessing corporate failure.

    It is no longer commercially viable to charge premium prices for product by creating artificial scarcity except if you, like DeBeers, are dealing with a physical and difficult to replicate product. This business model is dead for digital goods. Find a new one.

    The entertainment industry had a good century. The cost of producing their product was often high, but so was the cost of distributing it and the barriers to individuals distributing their own content. That meant producers could offset the high production costs by charging premium prices to the conglomerates who owned the distribution networks – who then passed the cost on to consumers.

    That century is now over. 2.5 billion people are able to create entertainment content and distribute it. They don’t need production crews, television stations or wholesale networks.

    Yes we have amateur content and professional content. Some of the market chooses one type, some another.

    However the case for restricting access in order to artificially raise prices is no longer sound.

    I’m sorry to say it but humans don’t NEED movies, we don’t NEED TV dramas and we certainly don’t NEED reality TV – we already have reality.

    You provide an ‘entertainment’ service. One that allows us to fill in the hours we won through the 8hr day and 5hr week.

    However it is only one of many things people could be doing. if your prices are too high or your goods too unavailable, people will either find ways around your systems, or do other things.

    The entertainment industry will change dramatically over the next century. Studios will fail and television stations will merge or go out of business.

    But these are mainly the distribution businesses – who vertically integrated with content production to produce economies of scale in a high-cost distribution world. They needed to product content to a certain level and for certain audiences in order to justify their huge legacy investments in distribution infrastructure and bandwidth.

    The roots of the entertainment industry – talented people creating great content to make people feel – are not destroyed by the digital revolution, but they are transformed.

    We return to the days of live performances and low-cost productions, with the bonus of low-cost distribution networks which significantly reduces barriers to content being created and creators being rewarded, modestly, for their value.

    This will remained interspersed with high cost product, but there will be less of it and it will work on a volume rather than a premium pricing distribution model.

    Content creators and performers will still have fans (I note that distributors don’t have fans, just fair-weather friends), and many will be able to self-fund and operate their own ‘channels’ without needing a deep-pocketed investor or distribution network to ‘commercialise’ their work.

    Sure there will be bad content – there always has been – and there will be more of it. However there will also be more nuggets of gold for those who wish to sift through it.

    Sorry Kim, but the days of delaying release of content to suit the wishes of programmers are over. The days of deciding when and if people can access content through ‘catch-up TV’ are also over. The industry is not in control, the market is (and sorry but you’re also not special – you’re not the only industry to be struggling with this radical change).

    Internet access has become crucial to many people. The idea of cutting peoples’ internet access due to alleged copyright infractions (NOT ‘thieving’ ) is one that seriously risks damaging peoples’ welfare and lifelihoods in ways disproportionate to their alleged acts.

    In short any approach of this time to restrict or deny people access to a medium because of how they are alleged to have used it is a stand-over tactic and blackmail that says to the community:

    “If you don’t respect an entertainment providers’ right to prevent you from accessing content at a reasonable price or time in order to generate profits that get shipped overseas – then we will prevent you from accessing support services, your bank, your family and your government.”

    I can just see, thirty years ago, a TV station deciding that to stop users who were using video recorders to tape shows and share them with friends they would cut off their right to access television at all. How well would that have worked, and how would the community have felt about it? (and the TV is far less important than the internet as it offers a very limited set of content defined by a limited number of people).

    The market has spoken and attempting to use government to set restrictions on peoples’ behaviour for the benefit of a specific industry is not a workable long-term strategy.

    Adapt or die.

    And if you’re going to die – do it fast, so all of us can get on with building a better digital entertainment future without the anchor and rancour of the past.

  27. Grr.
    22 Aug 12
    12:46 pm

  28. I wholeheartedly agree with Spack Jarrow + FredFrood.

    “You can’t stop the drug trade by criminalising the use of drugs and you wont stop
    the illegal downloads of copyrighted entertainment by banning torrents.

    Making your TV programs available worldwide, for a fee, at the same time-everywhere, will do it, since there is immediate access to the content by an eager audience willing to pay the producers for it so long as they get it now. They’ll even sit through your sh**y ads to see it now.

    And the Pirates? well you just fixed all the movie addicts, the pirate sites have no audience for the porn and viagra ads, so they’ll go find something else to do. I promise you, make Netflix and Hulu available to an Australian audience at a reasonable fee and piracy will be greatly reduced.

    So why, in the face of the obvious, will content producers not make content widely available across borders for a fee to willing consumers?”

    So right. Many a time have I tried to stream something legally only to find it’s not available in Australia. If your consumers have a different demand than you can fill, then you should adjust your business model to meet those demands – THAT’S YOUR JOB. Take full responsibility for it instead of shifting the blame back onto consumers, they’re going to go to someone who does fulfil their needs.

  29. Damo
    22 Aug 12
    12:49 pm

  30. In 2010 Fox’s Filmed entertainment division posted a $1.3b operating profit, an increase of 53% on the previous year.

    It seems that when people such as Mr Williams make these statements and we respond by saying it is because they are not supplying what the consumer needs, it perpetuates an idea they are suffering because of piracy. They are not. Their increasing profits prove this.

    It would seem plenty of people are going to the movies, buying DVDs and paying for subscription television.

    In future we should just ignore these petty tyrants who wish to control every aspect of the media and its distribution.

  31. Brian
    22 Aug 12
    12:55 pm

  32. I am about Kim’s age and it is embarrassing how he is conducting himself. He can rant all he wants, yelling about like a bald old fool at young people to “stop thief!!” will have zero effect. And any lobbying he can do (which he can) to stiffen legal frameworks will fail as piracy is here to stay. With tongue in my cheek, let me say I will keep supporting Burmese refugees (who work) in Thai copy shops in Phuket and continue to buy my 200 to 300 copy DVDs each trip. Excellent quality too (unlike crap ones in parts of China and Bali). Oh – unless I can buy the same DVDs here in Australia for about 3 bucks a pop. Then I will buy them here. And yes – i can live without my 10 favourite books, poems and films. Yawwwwwn. Even assuming they would never have been made. (i like his inclusion of tax payer funded films too – they get made no matter how bad they are or what the “business” model is)

  33. Fucking Amazed
    22 Aug 12
    1:47 pm

  34. So the logic seems to run that because the consumers need is not being met it is OK to steal it by whatever means available.

    I’ve always wanted a Ferrari.

    I can’t afford one.

    There is one at an Eastern Suburbs dealer.

    Still can’t afford it but it’s OK to ‘take it for a spin’ (the piracy duplicates content but theft does not) analogy, or to steal it outright.

    Have you people got fucking rocks in your head?

  35. Spack Jarrow
    22 Aug 12
    2:14 pm

  36. hi there Fucking Amazed

    your analogies don’t apply, I’m afraid.

    ferrarris are individual objects, not comparable to digital copies which cost nothing to the maker to download other than the server space and bandwidth. the original being copied (you don’t actually download it, you make a local copy) making a Ferrari costs many thousands of dollars, selling another download costs virtually no more per copy whether it is ten sales or a million.
    Taking the ferarri for a spin means no one else can have it, again, does not relate to digital downloads where 1000 people can have exactly the same thing and not reduce the number of downloads available.

    again, theft means the object is not available to the owner as the theif has removed it. Copyright infringement is not theft, the only argument you can make is that the artists don’t get their share from the sale. I would argue that by denying me the ability to buy a copy, teh distributors are also denying that artist their income.

    Again, make it available worldwide, at a fair price (meaning roughly the same cash value here as in the US) and the pirates are denied their market and the artist gets their share of the proceeds.

    no no fucking rocks. what’s your excuse?

  37. Dim Williams
    22 Aug 12
    2:17 pm

  38. Kim is right about one thing: the new digital age highlights that changes need to be made, and no, it’s not from a legislative point of view. It’s from a supply side.

    Until Australia catches up to the offerings and practices in the states, there is no other alternative. Look at the tripe that is broadcasting on air currently: The Voice, X Factor, Big Brother, The Shire. They don’t inspire confidence in Australian broadcasting and leave much to be desired.

    Foxtel is hardly a viable alternative. Pay $50+ per month to watch repetitive programming with non-stop advertisements. Sounds good to me!!

    Media companies need to properly think about how they can engage a new generation of audience who want more content, less advertisements and an easy way to get it. As it stands, torrents are all we have.

  39. Scott Hochgesang
    22 Aug 12
    2:18 pm

  40. To all,
    I could wind back the clock about 10 years and find this speech word for word, but out of the mouth of a US or European based global music exec. Well, without Kim’s top 10 movie list – sure his advisers told him to throw that in as a big speech on piracy tends to put most of the audience asleep.

    What is hardly touched on are the actions the video content companies are taking to put legal, viable alternatives into the marketplace. It took the record labels a while, fooling with their own DRM initiatives (believe me I was there) before jumping on the Apple bandwagon. A la carte downloads of every song on an album for $0.99 a piece. And all with CD burning allowed-well that was before they dumped the Apple DRM and eventually just went to open AAC/MP3 files.

    I have to wonder if other content industries are destined to go down all of the same paths, even though they’ve already sent the canary (e.g. music) down into the coal mine-and it did nearly die…

    But the music industry is now leaping back with a vengence with digital revenues now surpassing physical in many territories. Digital music content is everywhere (Facebook, Twitter, Apple, Vevo, Spotify, Artlist sites, Label sites etc…).

    It’s OK to lecture the masses on the “correct” behaviour. But let’s be very careful not to fall into the trap of the British cricket board, when confronted with a young Mr. Packer and a new form of cricket :)

    Happy to chat further with any looking for ideas or assistance.

    Scott Hochgesang

  41. Nonsense
    22 Aug 12
    2:32 pm

  42. Defending a broken, 20th century business model that doesn’t give customer want they want, when they want it makes absolutely no sense.

  43. Me
    22 Aug 12
    2:35 pm

  44. @Fucking Amazed

    “So the logic seems to run that because the consumers need is not being met it is OK to steal it by whatever means available.”

    It’s not stealing…. What, do you want to outlaw libraries as well?

    Nor is OK for Hollywood commercial interests to f*ck-up the internet because it doesn’t fit their outdated business model.

    We didn’t let the night-soil carters ban toilets because it robbed them off a job.

    Different era. Same shit.

  45. Mark
    22 Aug 12
    2:35 pm

  46. Interesting how angry this makes people, but I guess we live in an angry world now. At a guess I’m closer to Kim Williams age than most posting here but the heat so quickly generated is alarming & I thought I was supposed to be the angry old man!

    Many valid points have been made on both sides (with varying levels of hysteria). It’s true that the market has spoken (if occasionally in tongues)- there is no doubting the frustrations of waiting for local release, negotiating geo-locks, being over-charged, & putting up with nanny-state bull on every DVD, but downloading without paying is still essentially dishonest & in the long run it’s going to cost (be it film, music, book publishing, games etc). I have friends of all ages who have proudly proclaimed their download of the latest show from o/s for years, & I have made no bones of my discomfort. Sure- there’ll be new models, unarguably production values will change (we’re seeing that already) & new opportunities will spring up. We might even return, as has been suggested, to a more ‘cottage industry’ approach (already happening)- good for content?

    I run a specialist film industry support business that, like others, is arguably directly affected by the flow-on of pirating. I am also an artist in my own right, although in another field, so I am watching these developments with interest- torrent sites, music streaming & so on. We are already seeing the reduction in budgets affecting our ability to meet needs & find ourselves constantly educating producers about the realities. Of course this isn’t all the fault of illegal downloading but it’s not helping. Sure we can look forward to a brave new world but frankly it doesn’t appeal much if the basic infrastructure can’t survive. I guess musicians can go back to busking (most I know don’t make anything like the living you could 20 years ago anyway), film-makers & content providers can build a shed & be real artists. There’s always sport- that’ll continue to attract the ‘appropriate’ funding.

    I feel that the root of this is that new technology along with lifestyle & the demands on our time have created an increasingly frantic & self-centered world where everything is wanted NOW & preferably at little or no cost. We need to slow down before we all disappear up our own fundaments & end up swimming in a sea of mediocrity. I’ll agree that some real changes are needed but, in the meantime, let’s not throw the baby out with bathwater folks.

  47. Damo
    22 Aug 12
    3:45 pm

  48. @Fucking Amazed – It’s nothing like that at all. A more accurate analogy would be, you wanted a Ferrari (even though you already own a car you paid for); you had access to a 3D printer and copied one.

    Now you have a Ferrari – the manufacturer is not missing one; you already paid for a car, so it’s not like you haven’t spent money with a car manufacturer and, the money the Ferrari is worth you never had, so Ferrari aren’t missing out on that, either.

  49. ^^ this guy is a wand
    22 Aug 12
    3:50 pm

  50. Fucking Amazed, that Ferrari is probably only sitting in Eastern Suburbs dealer because poor CEOs can’t afford it since we all downloaded episodes of Game Of Thrones

  51. Fucking Amazed
    22 Aug 12
    4:10 pm

  52. @Damo et al. That is until everyone does it, Ferrari get no income, no more Ferraris. Can you not see that? It’s all fun and games in the short run but in the end there will be naught to illegally download. Apart from rocks. And who in their right mind would want a 3D print Ferrari? If you had a scintilla of vision you would understand this. Clearly there is no hope there of that happening. I’m not clinging on to old models. I’m saying that the current model is utterly doomed. It’s a house of cards built on shifting sands.

  53. Fucking Amazed
    22 Aug 12
    4:13 pm

  54. Oh … and Spack. You have confused incremental cost with total cost. If everyone pays the digital incremental costs (i.e. micro-cents) no-one would make money on anything. Your micro-argument is correct. Your macro-argument is 100% unsustainable.

  55. Unpopular Opinion
    22 Aug 12
    4:25 pm

  56. @ Spack Jarrow
    While a Ferrari is not the same as a digital copy, Fucking Amazed’s point is illustrated fine with what he has said. That is, that commenters have justified their breaking of the law based on the market not providing what they want at the price they want. The Ferrari illustration is a great example where we could say since I can’t afford one, I will take it

    If you want to differentiate based on whether or not it is a physical object, that’s fine. But that doesn’t make it any less of an act of breaking the law. Nor does it take away from the fact that you have taken something for nothing that others have put hard work into. Neither does it change the fact that it is theft.

    Yes, copyright infringement is theft in the colloquial sense of the word (not in the legal definition). You don’t need to have a physical object for it to be theft. Theft is just taking (or indeed copying) something that is someone else’s without their permission. In this way copyright infringement is a type of theft. The lawyers might need to get technical on the differences. But, non-lawyers can talk about ‘theft’ of intellectual property for instance.

    Further, while there is no additional direct cost to the studios for each copy made where copyright infringement occurs, the studios (and the bands/record labels for music) put a huge upfront investment which is based on the hope of selling a certain number. This is something that indirectly hurts the TV companies (and broader media market) too. If people are watching pirated content, they are likely to watch less TV, hence less advertising dollars.

  57. Peter
    22 Aug 12
    4:38 pm

  58. I think all this proves is that if given easy opportunity and little to no chance of getting caught certain people will choose to pay nothing for a product or service. This is probably not all that surprising but I think it is then a bit rich to blame the producers of the content that you are taking for free because you don’t like their business model.

    Sounds like people trying to post rationalise the fact that they are stealing something to me.

  59. James
    22 Aug 12
    4:39 pm

  60. Hahaha…

    Hilarious coming from a company that deliberately strips other websites (including Youtube) and FTA stations of their video content unlawfully and reposts it as their own.

    Clean up your own house before you start casting stones.


  61. Bemused
    22 Aug 12
    5:26 pm

  62. Fucking amazed I agree with you. The rationale for most of the comments here seems to be, ‘I want it now so i’ll take it and fuck everyone else’. Wake up people. Your mistaken sense of entitlement has blinded you to the fact that it’s theft, plain and simple. You may be able to rationalise it to yourselves as something else but you’re wrong. There’s no justification for it. No matter how aggrieved you feel by the ‘terrible’ situation you’re in. My god, you poor things, waiting a month to watch a show when your mate in NYC saw it yesterday. Or worse still having to pay for something. That’s soooooo 2000, right? Kim’s analogy between the London rioters and illegal downloads is spot on. The actions of both groups are driven a lack of morals, a twisted sense of entitlement, a complete lack of regard for the people they are taking from (for shop owners read actors) and a myopic view of the impact that their actions will have on rest of society. Funny thing though, a lot of the rioters got banged-up. I wonder how you guys will feel when your shithouse arguments get shown up in court – ironically by the same laws that you’d use to your advantage if someone stole your beloved ipad on the train – for the complete and utter bollocks they are and you get sentenced or fined. I bet you will wet your pants with fear.

  63. Carl
    22 Aug 12
    5:44 pm

  64. James, I would be extremely cautious making allegations such as that. Most news agencies around the world have reciprocal and sharing deals. I would be stunned if News doesn’t (that’s what those little AAP letters mean by the way). A reciprocal deal is hardly ‘unlwaful’, unlike the practices that Kim Williams is talking about.

    And no, I don’t work, nor ever have worked for News Ltd.

  65. Mike
    22 Aug 12
    6:19 pm

  66. @Scott Hochgesang: “Digital music content is everywhere (Facebook, Twitter, Apple, Vevo, Spotify, Artlist sites, Label sites etc…).”

    It’s still poorly distributed – the difference between Apple and Spotify catalogs country to country is enormous, even within adjacent European countries. Australia misses out on even more (and seems to pay more per unit for the smaller catalog). If you live overseas and want to buy Australian content, then you’ll find very little of it in foreign stores (bricks&mortar or digital). Even if you buy from the Australian Apple store, its terms are clear that if you’re not physically present in Australia then you’re not allowed to buy from them.

    As for those who complain that actors are being deprived – then I must say that members of the entertainment industry that I’ve met are some of the most eager consumers of downloaded content I’ve ever encountered. I once visited the home of a very wealthy Academy Award winner who had an astounding library of torrented movies.

  67. Aaron
    22 Aug 12
    10:42 pm

  68. An incredibly interesting argument unfolding.

    Despite my youth and my age groups tendancy towards illegal downloading, it is an undeniable fact that it is in fact stealing and is in fact illegal. No amount of blaming their business model can change that.

    That said, this is a problem that needs an answer but unfortunately it doesn’t lie in lobbying government, placing restrictions on the NBN or public awareness campaigns. If you honestly think thats the answer then i have no idea how you are running a company like News. The answer to the problem lies in letting go of an outdated business model and embracing the new world we live in.

    It is estimated that Game of Thrones and How I Met Your Mother are the most torrented TV shows, together being downloaded 6.7 million times per episode.

    I’m not much of an economist, but making those episodes available online at even just $1 per episode would give you an extra revenue of…. CRAPLOADS OF MONEY.

    If you owned a startup and you had 6.7 million people wanting to pay you for your product EVERY SINGLE WEEK, Sean Parker would be banging down your front door with his oversized cheque book.

    The rise of digital has changed the way everyone consumes content, and i’m sorry if it doesn’t suit your current business model… But your not the only company in the world that has been affected by the change, and plenty of them with fewer resources than you have successfully adapted. The way I see it you have two options: Adapt or Die.

  69. Me
    23 Aug 12
    8:40 am

  70. @Aaron

    “it is an undeniable fact that it is in fact stealing and is in fact illegal.”

    Very deniable. One, it’s not stealing, at worst, it’s copyright infringement.

    Which comes to point two, “illegal,” not necessarily, depends on the law of the particular jurisdiction. Commercial counterfeiting is often illegal, but non-profit copyright infringement usually isn’t. It’s then up to the copyright holder to enforce their copyright under common law.

    Hollywood would like to alter this and have law enforcement waste resources for them, enforcing their copyright, which is why they spend so much money lobbying/bribing various governments.

    Your statement is complete fail.

  71. Bob
    23 Aug 12
    8:50 am

  72. If the media wants taxpayer-funded law enforcement agencies to enforce anti-piracy actions, maybe the media should be asked to pay a special levy? I don’t want my tax dollars being wasted prosecuting some 10-year-old kid for watching Thrones on utube…

  73. Pappinbarra Fox
    23 Aug 12
    10:54 am

  74. Couldn’t agree more – and while we at the NBN we might sue Hiolden for having cars that bank robbers use to get away with full of cash. That might slow the robbers down sufficiently to be caught.

  75. Hugo
    23 Aug 12
    11:16 am

  76. One wonders if the CEO of News Ltd has noticed the liberal use of youtube videos of film clips and television material embedded in opinion piece’s on News’ very own “The Punch” opinion site.

  77. Jim
    23 Aug 12
    1:01 pm

  78. I’m not on the side of stealing creative content or the thinking of those who believe they’re entitled to ‘share’ content for free.

    But hold on, this cry is coming from Foxtel, a service that operates on a model which charges the consumer a high subscription rate and then sells its product again to advertisers. With many of their packaged channels carrying as many commercials as the ‘free to air’ rivals. And then they expect viewers to pay more if they choose to watch their premium content.

    Rather than plead for protection, maybe they should ask themselves why they expect the consumer to fund a second rate product.

  79. Fucking Amazed
    23 Aug 12
    2:30 pm

  80. @Me. I’d love to see you in court arguing that defence!

    But in an odd way you are partially correct. You are allowed to reproduce a copy of someone else’s work for private use (i.e. not commercial) – as long as you own the source copy that you are duplicating from or if it is in the public domain. If you don’t own that original copy then you are committing both copyright infringement and theft.. And torrent sites do not count as public domain.

    I wonder how you would feel if you put (say) an original song of yours up on the web and someone else ripped it off and made a fortune based on it. Oh that’s right .. you’d be 100% OK with that.

  81. Dave The Happy Singer
    23 Aug 12
    3:20 pm

  82. > If you don’t own that original copy [when you reproduce a work] then you are committing both copyright infringement and theft

    You are never committing theft (which is illegal) by downloading or copying content. You may be infringing copyright (which in most typical cases isn’t illegal, though it may be tortious).

    The copyright act makes clear under what circumstances copyright infringement is an offence. You don’t actually have to make this stuff up, you know. You can read it.

    > I wonder how you would feel if you put (say) an original song of yours up on the web and someone else ripped it off and made a fortune based on it.

    I’d be delighted. Fill your boots. All my songs are CC-BY-SA.

  83. Me
    23 Aug 12
    3:37 pm

  84. @Fucking Amazed

    Where, what jurisdiction? You are aware that laws vary from state to state and country to country I hope. You are aware that non-profit copyright infringement is NOT a criminal offence in most Australian states and territories? Otherwise Mr Williams would be not be crying like a baby just before a major Australian Law Reform review of copyright.

    And as stated before, have my writing is copied all the time. Gained a much bigger audience from it. Yes, I’m 100% ok with that and my first novel will probably be going up on the Promo-bay (if it’s accepted) so I can reach a daily audience of 5 million+.

    And it’s not the artists who tend to whine, it’s the exploiting publishing houses/record companies/distributors/advertisers (who I like to think of as the parasites) – are you in one of the latter categories?

  85. Spack Jarrow
    23 Aug 12
    3:40 pm

  86. @ fucking Amazed

    You make great points, FA, and I grant you that having a copy of something I didn’t pay for is copyright infringement (not theft, and yes, it has been defended in court in that manner) but no-one’s _really_ defending taking whatever you like from torrents.

    My main point is, yes artists deserve to be paid for their work, and I ask you to re-read the comment from Mike at No2, so why not make the content available worldwide for a reasonable fee? I think that is a valid question. In particular, when, for example, it is available on netFlix in LA for $10 but I can’t even get a sniff of it here. Why is that?

    Why do those creators not deserve the ability to earn income from that from people outside the US? What is the point of reading about how awesome this stuff is and not let me buy it from you because of some outdated concept of borders? No one has given me a real explanation for that other than “that’s the way it is”. Well, fuck me but they’re supposed to be clever people, so I can only assume they like it the way it is else they’d find a way to make it happen. Slavery, equal rights, plagues, cold, all were equally “that way” until people said it wasn’t a good idea to be that way.

    And most importantly, why waste taxpayers money on defending commercial enterprise copyright when there already i a mechanism for that in the courts and instead use your time to find a way to sell the stuff to an eager audience ready to pay for an easy way of getting it?

  87. Myles
    24 Aug 12
    10:34 am

  88. Imagine if you will your favourite 10 pieces of art.

    Now imagine yourself living in a country where multiple dictators (TV networks) prevent you from experiencing that until they want you to experience it, or not at all. In fact, all they want you to view is their own propaganda which is at best, utter crap.

    These dictators sit back patting themselves on the back with how great their content is, and tell themselves everyone is watching it via a measurement they haven’t changed since the 60’s.

    Now imagine if you will all your friends from around the world telling you on social networks how great that art is and that you should watch it. There is no sign of this piece of art being available for you to experience any time. But the world keeps reminding you just how far behind Australia is with content.

    Imagine if you will that you had access to the world and thought that you shouldn’t;t have to put up with crap like “Farmer wants a Wife”, “The Shire” or even “being lara who cares” during the week (because you’d rather head butt a spinning blender blade than watch that), because they are some great shows outside this country. Great shows that maybe the networks could but instead of putting money into recycled crud like Big Brother of all things. Putting Australian TV back another 10 years, when we all moved on a long time ago.

    Then imagine yourself giving FTA one last try by turning on to one of the only HD channels (that 90% of the time isn’t HD. I mean M*A*S*H on HD, really
    ?) and seeing your favourite series about a motorcycle gang, and then being told it’s all new, like you’re an idiot who doesn’t know it’s 2 seasons behind the rest of the world or is part of the 1% who doesn’t have access to a computer or mobile device.

    Then imagine trying some of the FTA’s online content. Then you realise that content is even further behind than the live content that was on a few days ago. Making it seem like making the content available straight after it’s been aired like the rest of the world, impossible.

    In the end the media companies must realise and act like this is now a world market. Making content available to the world is the opportunity and the right model and content proves that people will happily pay.

    This is a world where we want it now and we can get it now, very very easily.

    It’s not like Netflix declines our credit cards or iTunes stops us from not selecting our country of origin as the USA.

    We are all sick and tired of being denied quality and served crap.

    Until we get legal access to quality content in this country, the people will copy, pirate, download, subscribe or anything to get it.

  89. Bob
    24 Aug 12
    10:56 am

  90. Bit rich to bang on about “distribution” and “fairness”. C’mon, everybody knows the main reason for piracy: it’s free and easy.

    Companies do the same, sometimes the same media companies whining about piracy. How many companies have tried to skirt regulations? Hacking scandals? Defamation suits? Screwing employees over? Everybody wants a bargain, and if there’s little to no consequences…

  91. Ronnie Biggs
    24 Aug 12
    11:05 am

  92. So Myles … we go and knick the art.

  93. Meh
    24 Aug 12
    11:33 am

  94. Hi Kim

    Some of the biggest scumbags I have ever had the mis-fortune to meet are working in the marketing department at Foxtel, so it takes one to know one.


  95. Myles
    24 Aug 12
    11:40 am

  96. The reality is long past the moral argument. We can argue that it’s theft or whatever and the dictators can legislate until the cows come home. But the world has moved on and will forever and a day keep finding out how to get the content it wants for free.

    My argument is there may not be such a massive issue in Australia for the media companies if they actually kept up with the rest of the world and offered content to us on new business models.

    Piracy won’t be stopped, just reduced. There will always be those who don;t want to pay. There are however many of us that are willing to pay a reasonable amount to get current, decent content.

    We need only be an island geographically in the internet age.

  97. John Hollands
    24 Aug 12
    4:15 pm

  98. Great article, great comments.

    I think I’ll cut and paste some of it for my media assignment…

  99. Mike
    24 Aug 12
    8:37 pm

  100. Today I’ve tried to buy 3 different albums reviewed in the popular press*. All are out of my reach, because my IP address or credit card address is in the wrong country.

    There’s three artists not well served, whose chance to sell their music has been ROBBED from them by their publishers.

    It’s all very well for Kim Williams to go on about his favourite set of movies drawn from different times and countries. His access to them is funded by everybody else being constrained to buy from the small pool of media that his peers deem suitable for us.

  101. Jamie
    25 Aug 12
    1:11 am

  102. I find it funny and embarrassing that Kim Williams and lets face it – the majority of his generation criticising “pirated” content, seem to willingly forget Pirate Radio.

    I’m Generation Y, but at least I seem to have the sense to realise that this is not a new problem. If anything, I could argue that the ideas and concepts of “scumbag thievery” started with Mr Williams and his generation, when they made Radio Luxemburg et al so popular.

    How easy it is to forget when you have the opportunity to shake your finger at the grandkids.

  103. Samuel
    28 Aug 12
    10:16 pm

  104. Great comments from everyone, lots of good points, can’t resist the chance to add my 2 cents.

    There are lots of things that drive people to piracy, for me the biggest temptations is that it’s just dam easier. And when someone is trying to access entertainment aka recreation… easier is better. Morality, Legality, doesn’t matter to most people. Make the legal right way the easier way and 90% of piracy will evaporate and you will be left with the defiant few of whom prosecution is the only deterrent.

    This is the internet, stories of people getting sued and people screaming thief mean nothing, they are just more entertainment while you wait for your pirated material to finish downloading. Harp all you want, but you’ll change nothing. Even if you are in fact right, you will not change the reality of the situation that the world has changed and things like itunes which put a MASSIVE dent in piracy… why, because of ease of access are the way to go, all other avenues are distractions delaying the day when artists will get the money for the material they produce. This is the pragmatic view.

  105. Dim Williams
    31 Aug 12
    10:09 am

  106. This article on Mashable highlights how broadcasting should be done.

    In short: the new season of Doctor Who premiers this Sunday with ABC not showing it until the next weekend. To combat piracy, ABC have planned to show the new episode on their catch-up streaming, ABC iView just 50 minutes after it has aired in the UK.

    Kim Williams, take notes.

  107. Spack Jarrow
    31 Aug 12
    11:17 am

  108. Well said @Dim Williams.

    The real discussion isn’t that copying and redistributing or selling films and programs is a breach of a legal structure, in this case copyright infringement, because I don’t think anyone here believes people have a right to do that. Even those who describe the ease of finding and downloading movies, equally describe their frustrations that the distributors allow it to be bought in one jurisdiction but not in another, for no discernible reason other than political borders.

    That’s just obfuscation and FUD-fostering and distraction.

    The point is, there is no technical reason a distributor cannot release original content for a fee, collect our credit card details to do so, have access to the demographic information that reveals, initiate direct contact with that consumer and open up more channels for sales and information, and enjoy the benefits of being plugged in directly to the customer.

    The problem is, to do so requires dismantling the existing structure, and jumping into a new one, something the pioneers of the movie industry did with gusto, that the auteurs of the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, and 00’s embraced and rode, that the pioneers of popular music did in the 60’s and 90’s, that, in fact, every new tier of entertainment and artistic distribution did once a technology was released.

    The possibilities the internet provides distributors is fantastic; all they have to do is loosen their ties and roll up their sleeves and embrace it for the partner it can be.

    Kim and his bunch are the tail attempting to wag the dog, all we have to do is bark more eloquently, rather than shouting inanities and supporting the copyright infringers and eventually they’ll understand. We have our credit cards ready to pay you handsomely for high quality versions of your “fresh-off-the-editing-table” entertainment.

    Why won’t you take our money?

  109. John Grono
    31 Aug 12
    2:13 pm

  110. Dim, while I applaud the ABC’s initiative, have you paused and asked yourself why the ABC is showing only Doctor Who within 50 minutes of the UK original broadcast? Why aren’t they doing that for ALL their programmes?

    I suspect that is because the ABC may have approached the BBC – who own Doctor Who – and asked for PERMISSION to do so. The ABC would have a contractual agreement that purchased the local rights, merchandising etc. It ‘feel’s like they are now trialling a MUCH shorter window to allow Doctor Who to be ‘shown’ in Australia closer to the UK broadcast. And if you notice, it will only be available via iView – that is it ‘feels’ like the broadcast window remains unchanged (i.e. per the current agreements) but that the trial is based on the ‘catch-up viewing’ window (which is now a sort of odd terminology as for Doctor Who it will precede the broadcast). I also bet that the powers that be at both the ABC and BBC will be sweating over the iView data.

    This dovetails into what Spack said – there are no technical reasons why a distributor (and broadcaster) can’t distribute content quicker. But there are many contractual reasons and no serious broadcaster or distributor would disregard such contracts and agreements because they would never get the opportunity to get content deals ever again.

    However, there are millions of contracts in force regarding content distribution and access rights. It’s going to take quite some time to rewrite them all.

    But pleasingly, I think we are seeing the first signs of forward deals allowing quicker distribution. Also consider that it is the ABC that is taking this step. Could it be because they don’t rely on broadcast advertising income?

    But it still doesn’t answer the question of why would a commercial distributor or broadcaster push viewers that they can generate serious broadcast advertising revenue dollars from, onto online viewing that generates advertising revenue cents in comparison. Solve that one, and we’re starting to get a solution.

  111. Spack Jarrow
    31 Aug 12
    2:53 pm

  112. To answer the question in your last paragraph, John Grono, easy.
    Some viewers will wait for the broadcast version, as that fits their viewing preference, as many people I know don’t like to watch TV, even of a show they are eager to see ASAP, on a computer. So they wait for it to appear on the TV and can be advertised to. So income stream from there remains intact, although the advertiser has only an educated, polled guess as to viewer numbers and demographic.

    Some viewers, in this case the die-hard Doctor fans who have difficulty waiting that week for the broadcast, would happily pay the cost of a movie ticket or two for the access to the series and see the program the same day it is released in the UK.

    So revenue stream there as well.

    Point is, there is a near-finite audience for any program, and the different types within that audience will do what they can to enjoy the experience in their own way. So the bleeding edgers will always want the program right away, if you offer the chance to have it, at high quality, with a bit of added value (e.g.: member only content, discounts on DVD packs, discussions, etc.) the torrents will be that little bit quieter, and the producers have a diversified revenue stream.

  113. John Grono
    31 Aug 12
    3:33 pm

  114. Spack, I totally agree that multiple and diverse revenue streams is the way to go.

    But there is a conudrum here – or probably better put as an expression of the value equation.

    What would a fan pay for a download … maybe $2? So the CPM would be $2,000. TV advertising CPM is probably closer to one thirtieth of that amount. Is watching (say) Doctor Who immediately worth 30 times more than a week later. For some people clearly the answer will be yes, but for the majority it will be no.

    Let’s wait and see if there is any data released on this ‘experiment’. I for one sure hope it is a success and that it kicks-off flexible broadcast and distribution contract arrangements. (Of course this doesn’t address underlying contractual issues regarding the ‘talent’ fees and remuneration).

  115. Rob
    31 Aug 12
    5:51 pm

  116. “…many people I know don’t like to watch TV, even of a show they are eager to see ASAP, on a computer…. ”


    2012, streaming to telly from ‘puter (and vice versa) is piss-easy. And usually comes in a higher res than broadcast. So it’s better than broadcast telly.

    And if you’re doing downloads and your silly telly/media player doesn’t support mp4, go buy a cheap, nasty Chinese player. They usually support all formats and don’t bother with nonsense like zoning and DRM.

  117. Sam
    2 Sep 12
    11:18 pm

  118. Give me access to the TV shows i download illegally at the SAME time as the US, and i won’t need to download them in the first place.


  119. Kiwi fulla
    6 Sep 12
    6:33 am

  120. “Instead of reeling off a list of my favourite things, I’ll make a list of my top 10 favourite things.” Haha, awesome.

    Great article, agree with your points.

  121. Local Shopper
    6 Sep 12
    3:49 pm

  122. Theft!? Theft?! from the company that regularly hacks people’s phones for text and voicemail. Careful where you throw those stones.