'Lack of availability no longer an excuse' for piracy

'Lack of availability no longer an excuse' for piracy

Summary: Content owners have claimed the launch of a new guide for buying TV shows, films, music and games online shuts down claims that Australians download copyright infringing material because it is not available legitimately.


A new website detailing 80 or so websites or services where Australian can access digital content is being trumpeted as the end to the argument that Australians only download copyright infringing TV shows, films, and music because it is not available in the country.

The Digital Content Guide launched by Foxtel, Music Rights Australia, Screen Australia and a number of other content groups is designed to pool all the available streaming and download services available in Australia.

The website has over 80 different services from Foxtel Play, to Spotify, FetchTV, and Steam, all linking to places where content can be viewed or played either for free, or for a fee.

At the launch of the service in Sydney today, Australian Home Entertainment Distributors Association CEO Simon Bush said that there are more digital services available now than any time before.

"Consumers have a larger range of video and music devices, and video channels now than in any time in our history," he said.

"We need to listen to our consumers, and respond with content available on multiple platforms and devices sooner, whilst at the same time understanding the global nature of consumption of media.

"It is a challenge we relish, to deliver quality content in new and exciting ways."

He said that in pooling together the various services, Australians could now see where to go for the content they want to watch.

"The lack of availability is no longer an excuse [for copyright infringement]," he said.

But the service itself does not allow consumers to search for which subscription service contains which show or film they want to watch. A user that wanted to watch Game of Thrones, for example, would need to check in across a number of different services before being able to determine the price and availability of the show on Foxtel Play, iTunes, Quickflix or Google Play.

Despite US sites such as canistreamit.com existing to offer such search services for individual shows and films, Bush told ZDNet that getting the site to that level of granularity would be difficult.

"That's difficult because they change all the time," he said.

"The Brits did it as well, and they found it extremely difficult and cumbersome to do. You can point people to where they can get the content and they can make their own choices."

It comes as Attorney-General George Brandis and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull are divided over proposed schemes to deter copyright infringment.

While Brandis believes that ISPs should bear some of the responsibility for the cost of sending notices to customers to warn and ultimately punish for infringement, Turnbull has indicated that content owners should bear the cost of the system because it is their rights ISPs would be charged with enforcing.

Turnbull went as far as to suggest content owners should be prepared to sue mums and dads who infringe on copyright to set an example and deter other infringers when such a system is in place. Bush said there was no appetite for that for the content owners.

"There's not a great deal of appetite to do that. It's been done with a lot of controversy in the United States. I think that's a last resort, not a first resort. I think any system framework we design in this country that leads to blocking out courts and litigating consumers I don't think is the best approach," he said.

"The mitigation measure I guess is up for discussion in the negotiation. We can discuss that hopefully with the ISPs at some point."

Topics: Piracy, Government, Government AU, Australia


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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  • Missed the point.

    Once again the companies miss the entire point and argument that consumers are using. Nobody has said it is impossible to access content like Game of Thrones (though sometimes it literally is impossible because it isn't available in Australia at all), they are saying that the hoops you must jump through, and the absolute ridiculous prices one must pay to just view it (without it being yours to own) are not worth it.

    People have shown they are willing to pay for something like Netflix (at $8 a month plus the additional cost of having a VPN to be able to be "in the US") but haven't jumped all over Foxtels "Presto" service? Why? Price and content for said price.
    • Re: Missed the point.

      I don't think this website is meant to cure all… It's just a simple resource! To help people know where to find legitimate content (not just Film and TV). It's not meant to fight the price battle, the piracy battle, but my understanding is it's just to show what is out there.
      • They seem to think it is the cure.

        A quote from the article itself. ""The lack of availability is no longer an excuse [for copyright infringement]," he said.", I'm sorry but that quite clearly shows that they don't understand the issue (or don't want to). Lack of availability is part of the issue, the issue is lack of affordable available content. People don't want to get locked into $100 a month to watch a single show they want for the three months it runs.

        In their mind, because this site now exists and people can "see" where to get content legally, that if anyone now pirates, they should be hit with the full force of the law. Since, they now have no excuse for copyright infringement.
        • You're probably both right

          someone designed it as a resource to make locating the content easier, but then marketing got hold of it and spun it as a cure-all.

          As a resource, it's an OK idea, but it's a lot easier to grab a VPN and sign up to NetFlix than it is to wade through 80 sites looking for something your after.

          And as a "cure all", it's a vast over reach as it's not even a very good resource. To improve it to where it's actually a good/usable one they need to add B2B so you can search that site for what you need and either buy directly off that, or at least give you sa link directly to the thing your after.

          It's pretty telling that they think a simply "bunch `o links" website is "the answer" here, and is yet another example of why our content providers just don't get this "internet" thing (or technology in general)
  • Richard

    bwahahahaha - as soon as I saw Foxtel's name in there I knew this was just more smoke being blown up our arses.

    I looked at the website, and its nothing more than a bunch of sites where you can stream video from. Even ones like ABC's iView.

    Nothing where I can go to (for example) download series 1 of Big Bang Theory - and even if Foxtel did show it, you'd be lucky to get 1 episode a week, and be paying $100 per month for the privilege.
  • Sigh.

    Content "Providers" take a dump on your front lawn, call it manure and tell you it's good for your garden.

    Right ....
  • Or....

    "A new website detailing 80 or so websites or services where Australian can access digital content is being trumpeted as the end to the argument that Australians only download copyright infringing TV shows, films, and music because it is not available in the country."

    Or get a VPN service and sign up to NetFlix...everything in the one place and up-to-date...

    Nice try though guys (seriously), it's definitely a step in the right direction!
  • Australian Media- The biggest recepient of Corporate Welfare!

    Australian Media are the biggest recipient of Corporate Welfare in Australia and the so called 'Piracy' crackdown is simply another element of Government Corporate Welfare provided by money or 'in- kind'. Don't believe me?

    Digital Radio roll-out has been limited and almost stopped, why? To ensure the owners of FM Stations are protected from competition and a cheaper platforms for providing quality radio stations.

    TV Stations have had their 50% cut in annual License Fees made permanent. They did not have to pay open market prices for all their new channels, that they 'stole' from their spectrum allocation that was supposed to deliver high definition broadcasting. The government scrapped the potential introduction of a new commercial network. For a Government crying 'poor' it has given up millions of dollars by not charging fully for annual license fees, broadcast rights etc.

    Customers who purchased high-end TV's to receive Blueray quality reception now have to live with downgraded quality transmission which has been redefined as hi-definition.

    Similarly Hi-speed broadband has been redefined in this country at a much lower speed than the international definition. Further the roll-out has become a 'dogs-breakfast' to ensure the existing players can keep their high costs of services going longer and limit commercial competition from regional areas.

    This Government and Commercial TV Executives have the mistaken idea that if you cripple the ABC and SBS and close down the 'Piracy' opportunities, the good people of Australia will direct their 'eye-balls' to to the picture theaters, commercial television stations and the local Video Store. Obviously they have not noticed the proliferation of legal video hire/streaming services on line. They have not taken notice of the improved compression protocols that provide hi-definition and speedy downloads even for our slow broadband speeds. Also they have not taken notice that the public do not care for Local Broadcasters getting the copyright for all material from CBS for instance, then 'cherry-picking' a few shows and having no intention of releasing the rest even on-line.

    Commercial TV is only interested in maximizing 'eye-balls', therefore any broadcast of a program of limited interest is a 'no-no'. If our TV Stations do not come up with a way to show these copyright shows on-line,(which are deemed not commercially viable), then people power will find a way to obtain them elsewhere!
  • Right Direction

    There should be no excuse to download something illegally, especially if it already available for free to stream. The whole justification of downloading some of the tv, music, and movies is that it is not available. Well how many times have you actually searched for it? Although the site is not perfect, it should be a great source.