And they wonder why Aussies illegally download

ScreenHunter_1460 Mar. 03 13.27

By Leith van Onselen

Earlier this year, Foxtel stitched-up a deal for exclusive rights to Game of Thrones and True Detectives. Under this deal, viewers seeking to watch these shows will only be able to do so through Foxtel, with the shows no longer available for purchase via ITunes or other sites until the last episode has aired.

Today, Foxtel has come out defending its exclusive arrangement with HBO (creators of the above shows), arguing that the $35 per month cost attached to its streaming service (increasing to $50 per month after 3 months) is “not a huge amount of money”. From The AFR:

The pay-TV operator has defended its exclusive deal to broadcast the highly anticipated new season of fantasy blockbuster Game of Thrones, saying it was showing the program quickly and affordably, and it hoped most people would “do the right thing” by not downloading it.

The exclusive deal has angered many local fans who were able to watch previous series through iTunes, Quickflix and Google Play but must now wait until Foxtel stops airing the series and buy it in full…

“$35 a month is not a huge amount of money.”

“Yes, there is a price tag … but HBO has to be remunerated. At about $7 million an episode, dragons don’t come cheap.”

No wonder piracy is so rife in Australia. Purchasing content legally is often far less convenient than downloading illegally over the internet. Moreover, the cost of copyrighted content in Australia is usually far more expensive than elsewhere. For example, a subscription to streaming service Netflix in the USA costs only $8 per month versus $35 (increasing to $50) per month for Foxtel’s sub-standard offering.

And the issue of Australians being ripped-off extends well beyond television. For example, a parliamentary report, At what cost? published in July 2013, found that, on average, eBooks are 16% more expensive, music costs 52% more, and games are 82% more expensive in Australia.

Indeed, its the extreme geo-blocking and protection that surrounds much international content distributed through Australian cable television that is driving consumers to seek alternative sources, albeit illegally.

The key to reducing piracy is to free-up the market for content, so that purchasing it legally is as convenient as illegally downloading from the internet. This requires an end to exclusive deals and the ability to purchase content in a variety of formats from a variety of locations, as well as making it legal to convert files as one sees fit for private use.

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49 Responses to “ “And they wonder why Aussies illegally download”

  1. outsidetrader says:

    This is the best quote from Foxtel:

    “We’re not so naive to think that we can ever eradicate piracy. We can never stop that. But if we give content at reasonable prices, quickly, in a way that is convenient, hopefully most people will do the right thing.”

    I agree 100% – and I can’t wait for Foxtel to actually do that rather than pretend that a $50 a month subscription is reasonable.

    • migtronix says:

      I hate the word ‘Piracy’ in this context!

      Its not only is it completely and utterly misused — maybe if you’re downloading on a bloody boat!!! — but we allow the “copyright holders” to dictate to us what good behaviour is. Are you frigging kidding me? From sickos like Disney and Sony?!?!

      • Ino says:

        Pira-what?

        Sorry – I couldn’t hear what Foxtel was saying over the sound of me downloading The Daily Show and Colbert Report episodes…

      • aj. says:

        +1 the word is trespass. There is no deprivation of proprietary rights.

        Piracy as a crime is a myth by the copyright industry.

    • darklydrawl says:

      Foxtel are dead in the water unless they drastically improve both their pricing and customer service.

      Netflix and Amazon Prime are going to crush them. Perhaps not tomorrow, but the day is coming.

      I know as many people now using Netflix via a geo spoofing browers as I do with Foxtel. Given the USD$8 per month vs $50-$100AUD for Foxtel, who can blame them?

      Little wonder Mr Murdoch was / is trying to kill the NBN via proxy.

    • Jason says:

      It’s also worth mentioning that even after paying their exorbitant fees, you are still subjected to f&^king ads every 10-15 mins!

      Utterly ridiculous. Exclusivity agreements are anti-competitive and should be illegal.

      • drsmithy says:

        It’s also worth mentioning that even after paying their exorbitant fees, you are still subjected to f&^king ads every 10-15 mins!

        +1

        The single biggest reason I not only will never pay for Foxtel, but gleefully “pirate” anything they have to offer.

        Second on the list is the audacity to charge extra for HD, in 2014, and even then only for a small subset of channels.

    • Mik says:

      Here is a way to watch programs like this, semi legally.
      subscribe to a vpn service such as Astrill, then buy a visa charge card (normal card unlikely to work) and top up with your dollars, then subscribe to Hulu, Netflix etc. I do this and this costs (for me.)
      Hulu at $8.00 US a month, Astril $60.00 a year.
      total cost for a year subscription approx $160.00 (approx 4 months subscription of Foxtel. we also have our TV hooked up with a media centre and watch the movies on the TV. We havent had, nor have been harassed by he kids since we got rid of Foxtel 2 years ago.

  2. migtronix says:

    That being said I’m wondering why I downloaded GoT last night — dear God I never knew interminable goes on so long…

    • Pat20 says:

      I was pretty disappointed in True Detective. It showed some promise mid-season but degenerated into a barely coherent buddy cop police procedural. The writing and editing seemed to be subservient to the over the top performances of Maconachie and Harrelson.

  3. Leviathan says:

    Indeed, its the extreme geo-blocking and protection that surrounds much international content distributed through Australian cable television that is driving consumers to seek alternative sources, albeit illegally.

    Take a great deal of umbrage with this comment – the alternatives are NOT ILLEGAL and nor should they be presented as such.

    Firstly lets be clear breach of copyright is not a criminal act – it is a civil issue.

    Secondly accessing Netflix, Hulu, etc also not illegal. It is a breach of terms – that is all. There is absolutely nothing illegal about watching Game of Thrones via HBO Go – nothing at all.

    There are LOTS of perfectly legal alternatives to Fox – and it pains me to see this blog presenting those alternatives (the entire internet basically) as illegal.

    Torrenting is also NOT ILLEGAL – so again, please can we stop misrepresenting download files from the internet as being illegal. This is only illegal if it contains criminal content – ie child porn.

    UPLOADING and DISTRIBUTING content on the other hand is illegal, well sorry – not illegal but a civil issue. Again – downloading content is not.

    For those who are interested in accessing internet television – entirely legally – may I suggest a Roku 3 box or Chromecast.

    You do not even need a VPN and can access thousands of television stations with tens of thousands of channels – supplying literally hundreds of thousands of options.

    • migtronix says:

      Firstly lets be clear breach of copyright is not a criminal act – it is a civil issue.

      THANK YOU!!!!!!

    • Fair point, Leviathan. I’ll keep that in mind in the future.

    • Monkey says:

      Leviathan, you are partly right. Copyright is usually a civil matter. Breach of copyright can be a criminal act, but generally only if there is a commercial element. This might be seen in the scale of the copyright violation and whether it is done for profit. For most pirates this is irrelevant. If someone started to download and sell movies, then he or she would run into legal problems.

      It is against the law to download content from the internet if it violates copyright to do so. There’s no problem downloading videos where you have permission (something like ABC iView), but if you don’t have permission (like for Game of Thrones) then you are breaching the Copyright Act 1968.

      It is not against the law to circumvent geographic restrictions by, for example, tricking iTunes into thinking you are in the US.

      This is just a summary and there are lots of complications in the details.

      It’s worth knowing that some countries, especially European countries, have criminal penalties for being in possession of material which breaches intellectual property laws – things like downloaded music and fake handbags.

      • migtronix says:

        but if you don’t have permission

        So if someone who does have permission stores that file in the cloud and gives me permission to access it – like I was sitting in his living room – who has “violated” what?

        And why do you keep calling it piracy? Where are the Jolly Rangers?

      • Leviathan says:

        Except Europe (EU I presume) has just overhauled their laws – you are allowed to make a copies of your protected music movies – meaning there is no possible way to determine illegality.

        Even the US has no way to stop this and is hence trying to bring in laws making it illegal to actually use ripping software.

        There is no possible way to outlaw downloading copyrighted material from the internet. It is like outlawing watching a copyrighted movie on free to air. Its absurdity to even suggest it.

        This is also why no person has ever been prosecuted for it.

        .

    • Jason says:

      Running Sickbeard and Couchpotato with Transmission, and Plex to view it all (all new Samsung TVs have Plex client apps that make it even easier), it’s never been so easy.

  4. evilsync says:

    sabnzbd + sickbeard + couchpotato

    Look it up folks!

  5. bennoz says:

    way to bundle TV shows into a movie channels package foxtel.

    talk about rip off !

  6. caeos says:

    Not to mention Foxtel Play is only Standard Definition – not HD.

    I had finished watching it in HD by 7pm last night…(it was an accident I swear).

    • AB says:

      “Not to mention Foxtel Play is only Standard Definition – not HD.”

      Which is just ridiculous.

      So you expect us to pay to watch an inferior copy which (last I looked) we can’t even watch on demand rather than when we want?

      Good luck with that Foxtel.

    • matt0t3 says:

      Exactly. Foxtel says they won’t release an HD IPTV service due to the fact that internet speeds in Australia at too slow to support it (nevermind the fact that Rupert’s chosen political party is killing the NBN…). Really? Then why was I able to download GoT at 720p / DD5.1 quality in 20 minutes via a torrent, on my lowly ADSL2 connection?

      Nevermind the fact that streaming technology can easily fall back to an SD bitrate if an HD one cannot be maintained. Foxtel’s failure to offer an HD IPTV service is an attempt to preserve satellite as the “premium” option, nothing more or less.

  7. rob barratt says:

    ”And the issue of Australians being ripped-off extends well beyond television”. Well, MB had one victory – Vegemite:
    1) October 24 2012: Humble blogger exposes ripoff
    http://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2012/10/electricity-price-spike-arcs-up-cpi/ (see Rob Barratt)
    2) Feb 13th 2013: The MSM finally gets the picture:
    http://www.news.com.au/finance/money/vegemite-is-cheaper-overseas-than-in-australia/story-fnagkbpv-1226576999305
    3) May 13th 2013: As if by magic:
    http://www.ausfoodnews.com.au/2013/05/13/coles-forces-prices-on-%E2%80%9Cbig%E2%80%9D-brands-to-go-%E2%80%98down-down%E2%80%99.html
    Only another 10,000 items to go…

    EDIT: UK Price was 20%+ cheaper at the time!

  8. Lath says:

    And yet on another MB post today “The Australian is today reporting that the Abbott Government is considering opening up domestic shipping routes to international competition in a bid to lower freight costs:”

    How is this for a vote winner?

    The Australian is today reporting that the Abbott Government is considering opening up domestic media delivery to international competition in a bid to lower entertainment costs:

    • migtronix says:

      The Australian is today reporting that the Abbott Government is considering opening up domestic media delivery to international competition in a bid to lower entertainment costs:

      I think I just wet myself!

  9. Bluebird says:

    I think a fair case is that the media owes young Australians big time for spruiking the hell out of house prices and foisting on us undemocratic mass immigration.

    That’s a lot of media you could buy for say $500k-$700k? You could possibly buy every DVD in existence for that.

    Not that I’d ever do it myself mind you. I’m a boy scout and I suffer and smile sweetly. :P

  10. MemeMachine says:

    A subscription to Foxtel and installing the required hardware constitutes profound friction between a consumer and their content; for digital content and the Internet as a whole, friction is like censorship – it is perceived as damage and routed around.

    And Foxtel gaining an official “monopoly” on a good / service that people want . . . shouldn’t that be illegal? In fact, by allowing a monopoly of such a good / service then surely the Australian government is tacitly approving citizens to find alternative means to access that good / service?

    • Jason says:

      I agree that these exclusivity agreements should constitute anti-competitive behaviour and be illegal.

  11. Budreika says:

    Seriously, how many new Foxtel subscribers do they actually think will sign up purely for a series of an ‘exclusive’ TV show?

    Zip. Because people can get it elsewhere, much cheaper and more conveniently. I can’t believe they don’t see this! Surely the additional money they spend buying these shows would not be covered by new subscription fees.

    New people subscribing for sport (eg. Fox Footy) is another matter, however. Why? Because they can’t get it elsewhere, cheaper and more conveniently.

    • Sauce_head says:

      Yeah you can. You can either get the AFLLive App which gives you every game live for about $80, or do the international version with the geo-blocker, which is essentially the same but costs less.

      Its not quite HD but close. And you get some HD games on 7mate for free.

      There is no need for Foxtel at all.

  12. aj. says:

    I’m not sure why Australian politicians are happy to watch their citizens get ripped off for just about every entertainment option.

    Eurosports in UK? 4pd a month…
    on Fox in Aus – don’t ask.

  13. JonathonMarathon says:

    I’ve been using this method for a year now http://www.whatisnetflix.com.au/watching-netflix-in-australia/ works great and is only $14 a month
    I’ve got great internet with Optus so it streams a treat!

  14. reusachtige says:

    Seems we have consensus. Fk the entertainment monopoly and everyone do their best to get around them! Times like this I love the Internet. Keep an eye on Rupert though, he wishes to shut it all down, well at least make Internet life more difficult.

  15. McPaddy says:

    These guys are digging their own grave. It really epitomises the mentality of an Aussie rent seeker. Gouge while the gouging’s good.