The boss of News Limited Kim Williams has labelled the downloading of pirated TV shows, music or films as “scumbag theft”.
In a speech to the Australian International Movie Convention, Williams called for new copyright laws and the the National Broadband Network to be forced to act over the content its users download in the future.
Labelling the issue one being driven by the type of people who hung out in the hip cafes of Melbourne, Williams said: “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.”
Williams rejected the argument that downloading is a victimless crime. He said: “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 unattended, how to switch-off its and electronic alarm system. All with a catalogue of the current best-sellers all thrown in.”
He drew comparison between watching illegally downloaded content and looting during last year’s London riots. He said: “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.”
Arguing for tougher laws and codes of practice for internet service providers, he said: “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.”
Williams rejected the argument that content makers have themselves to blame for failing to make new content available to buy quickly enough. He said: “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.”