Online Privacy it huge at the moment and I felt as I work in this field that i would inform most of you about what is going on. Governments for the last 2 years or so have been trying to bring in new laws that prevent online piracy by forcing internet providers to disclose information about people who are downloading illegally. That would mean that if the government has any inclination that you are downloading illegally they can request your name, account details, address, download history etc.
The purpose of these bills and laws is to stop online piracy but what the government has failed to realise is that most people don’t pirate media because they want to steel. Australians are among the biggest pirates per capita but what is the real reason for this? Debate continues about whether this is driven by opportunism, the delays for overseas content to reach here, or an aversion to the country’s higher prices. You see most people pirate otherwise they don’t get to watch great TV shows that America provides. An example of this is that channel 9 in Australia has just started advertising a show called MOM. They are advertising it as a new show starting soon but what most people don’t realize is that the show just wrapped it’s first season and started about 4 months ago. Now i’m not going to speculate on the process from getting shows from America to show in Australia but this can’t be the only option.
However there is evidence that people download shows out of necessity because there is no other option. HBO has great shows like Game of Thrones and HBO see that people want online/web based viewing so they started HBO GO which streams their network to your computer. Now when HBO released episode one of the new season their servers went down for half a day but people still wanted the show so they downloaded it. The first episode had 100,000 people downloading the file in the first 30 mins of the show finishing. This is proof that not all people download just to steal but because it is the easiest way to get the show they want to watch.
There are a few internet providers in Australia that are against this bill, namely the biggest is iinet. They have publicly stated that “Internet providers should not be responsible for protecting the rights of American companies” and the above changes could cost ‘‘in the order of tens of millions”. “There doesn’t seem to be any empirical evidence that either blocking websites or sending harsh notices to customers … does anything to reduce the incidence of piracy. Show me the evidence,’’ said iiNet chief regulatory officer Steve Dalby ‘‘As a secondary issue, if we are convinced that it actually will reduce the level of piracy, then we need to talk about who is going to pay for it.” Thats the question isn’t it…who will pay for it in the end? There is no real number you can put on what piracy costs companies only speculation. There is also no real evidence that piracy costs media companies anything really. There was a time that people sold camera recorded movies on tape or DVD and it wasn’t as big of an issue as this is now because there was no really way to stop it.
So what is the solution?
There really is no way of saying what will work as the internet and the users are diverse and I personally think that there is no real one solution. I can tell you that blocking people from using certain websites online will probably start something that governments might not want to start. This could lead to an increase in cyber terrorism, increase hacking or even users using programs to reroute their IP. Where do you come in? Well it is simple, fill out forms, support groups fighting these bills, annoy the government do what you can to stop these bills. A good place to start for Australia is to talk to companies like Netflix or Hulu to bring their services to Australia. These companies are online providers of TV shows, kind of like foxtel but better. You see with foxtel you pay $100 a month and you have channels that you watch and occasionally you get shows that are up to date. With Netflix and Hulu you get shows on demand which means you can watch what you want when you want and it only costs $20 a month.
So let me ask you…would it be better for Australian Government to pass a bill that will cost everyone billions of dollars or bring a service to Australia that is legal and will only cost $20 a month? Seams like a no brainer to me but then again a politician with a brain is rare these days