1 INTRODUCTION As a first world nation, it is a surprised that Senator Brandis said that Australia is the worst offender of any country in the world when it comes to online piracy. So what drives Australia to have such a large number of pirates committing the act of software and media piracy? This report addresses the ethical dilemma in piracy and find out the underlying issues of online piracy in Australia. As piracy becomes more rampant in our society the focus needs to be placed on what caused this absurdly high piracy in a first world nation and solutions are needed to reduce it.
2 ISSUES OF PIRACY 2.1 Is there an underlying ethical dilemma in the chosen scenario? Why or why not ?
To a great extend there is no underlying ethical dilemma in digital piracy. For a scenario to be an ethical dilemma, a person has to make a decision between two options, which are both morally right, but choosing one would transgress the other. In this scenario, the consumer can choose to pirate, similar to theft which is morally wrong, or choose not to pirate, which is morally right.
However, to a small extend, there can be ethical dilemmas in this scenario. Given a hypothetical situation where there is an outbreak of a disease that is causing death. The consumer would go out of control and die shortly after. However, not long after, a scientist came up with an ingenious invention; an mp3 he made that could alter the brainwaves of victim and save their lives. Hoping to profit hugely from this, he setup many clinics which offer cure but at a huge cost to the victims. Only the employer has access to the mp3. There are many people who could not afford it and the shortage of clinics resulted in many deaths. The employer faces a dilemma of pirating the mp3 which could save many lives or should he refrain from pirating which could save many lives. This is a case where a digital content is crucial in saving a live or preventing death and infringing on the rights of the content is more important than not.
In most cases, the pirate has an invalid ethical dilemma. Usually freedom of information and expression is used to justify piracy. Pirating is ethical and acceptable to them as they think that they have a right to the information that they are pirating. The distribution and reproduction of digital content is viewed as fair use by them.
2.2 Why do people pirate in copious amounts in Australia?
Humans have an inherent trait of greed and the people in Australia are no different. They do not pay for movies, music and TV shows because they can get it for minimum cost by downloading instead of purchasing. Australians have to considerably pay more for movie tickets and digital contents due to price discrimination. The entertainment industry is charging Australians more and this gives the pirates another excuse to feed their greed.
The release schedules for Australians lag behind the US. People download content illegally out of impatience as they do not want to wait for local screening. For some, they do out of frustration as local services are either troublesome or are non-existent.
Often Australians will find that they are paying a premium price yet receiving less. For example, an Australian disc of a TV series has missing bonus features found in the US disc. This makes people feel that they are being cheated. After realizing that there are missing contents, they would not bother buying the US version but rather go online and find for the missing contents to download. Australia’s free-to-air television networks are avoided as they intentionally run shows late, cut parts of the show to squeeze in as many advertisements as possible, make changes to the schedule abruptly and even place advertisement on top of content. It has been an issue for decades that has been reducing the number of viewers yet the networks are not taking actions to rectify the problem.
This results in viewers finding for another source of entertainment. Since the advent of faster broadband internet, it is much more convenient to download content and enjoy a show or movie without annoying ads and disruptions to TV series. The number of contents available to Australians is limited compared to the US. If Australians want to access US contents they have to bypass geo-blocking and pay access to these contents. This process is troublesome and Australians would rather resort to piracy. Social conformity plays a part in influencing a person’s desire to pirate.
Pirating is mainly an act of a collective. Most people are under pressure to conform to a group. When majority of people view piracy as an acceptable action others will follow and comprehend similarly. The judgment of peers drives people to pirate. The points which have been state also contributed to the increase number of pirates and hence more people are pressured to conform. Lastly, downloading copyright protected content offers a sense of anonymity, makes the act of theft seemingly victimless and most likely the government are unable to prosecute the pirate. It is unlawful to pirate but the ramifications of pirating is not harsh compared to physically stealing things from stores, therefore pirates are not afraid to pirate.
2.3 Is it justified to do so? Piracy is not a victimless crime even though it seems so. The entertainment industry lost $900m out of the Australian economy and over 8,300 jobs loses in 2010. The amount of ethical attention attracted by piracy is much less compared to physically shoplifting, yet the conduct is the same, theft. Pirates usually justify their unethical conduct by projecting the blame on others. In most cases, pirates accuse the industry of unfair charges and ripping them off. Piracy is still theft; theft, whether it be physical or digital. Piracy is one of the unclear subject as it is perceive to be harmless where it is clearly illegal and harmful to the content creator, yet it continues to happen daily with little enforcement or punishments. It is clearly not justified to do so.
3 SOLUTIONS 3.1 STAKEHOLDERS INVOLVED Artist (Examples: Content creators, songwriters, singers, videographers, etc.). They are the ones most affected by piracy. Famous artists are going to have a loss in sales resulting in lower profits which can be damaging towards their future works. However, less well known popular artists may gain wider exposure and thus profit. They are the least interested in enforcing copyright laws rather they would like the content industry or government to combat piracy.
Content Industry (Examples: Australian Recording Industry Association, content owners (Warner Bros), Music labels). They are strongly pushing for government legislations to combat piracy and may take necessary actions to sue infringing consumers to claim damages. According to them piracy has cut their earnings from legitimate sales.
ISP (Examples: Telstra, iiNet, Optus and TPG). They are indirectly affected by piracy as content industry is lobbying the government to allow them to get personal details of alleged customers that infringe copyright.
Consumers ( normal people who use the internet). Hate to be labeled as a criminal due to downloading copyrighted contents. Strongly dislike being restricted in how they use the internet and are against policies that will intrude into their privacy.
Government ( legal and regulatory bodies) Implement and enforce copyright laws. They have to do more work to create the proper framework to discourage piracy yet at the same time protect consumers from lawsuits, speculative invoicing and strong arm tactics used by the content industry. (e.g. Dallas Buyers) 3.2 SOLUTION 1 Block websites that host infringing contents
Conditions for the solution to succeed: 1. Right holders are given a way to take action against infringers after a number of notices. 2. People are given information of ways of legitimately accessing contents 3. The fair appropriation of costs between ISPs and rights holders 4. A safeguard for consumers 3.3 SOLUTION 2 Increase accessibility and availability of copyrighted contents especially creative contents at a price similar to the U.S market/international market. (Australians are able to access copyrighted contents in an affordable, lawful, convenient and timely manner)
Conditions for solution to succeed: 1. Right holders to provide affordable licensing fees for digital distribution to online retailers such as Australia based Quickflix and other Australian retailers. Currently, Quickflix offers a relatively smaller library of sixty thousand titles compared to Netflix US which offers access to over 100,000 titles. The reasons why Australian retailers have a smaller library is because foreign companies are not able to acquire the rights to distribute the foreign content in Australia and the high cost for Australian distributors to license foreign content for digital distribution. 2. Right holders have to allow new content to be available in Australia in a timely manner.
3. High-speed and affordable internet access for majority of Australians. Research has shown that why Australians prefer to pirate movies and other digital contents is because they have slow Internet connection such that they can’t watch streaming contents in high-quality. Currently only selected areas have NBN connections, even then, the lowest tier 12mbps download and 1mbps upload is expensive compared to current offerings of ADSL2+ which provide similar speed and cost less.
3.4 PREFERRED SOLUTION Our preferred option is solution 2.
By implementing solution 1, content Industry is able to deal with pirate sites and increase in revenue due to reduction in piracy, it benefits creative communities and to businesses that employ hundreds of thousands of Australians and government has more capability to pursue copyright violations.
However, the cons of solution 1 outweigh the benefits. The blocking of websites will not necessarily make content more accessible and better priced for the consumers and this solution would result in legitimate content being blocked and this infringe on the protections for freedom of speech and freedom of access to information of the consumers. And since VPNs are able to bypass this solution, consumers will resort to using VPNs. Soon the government would enact laws to ban VPNs, which provides privacy to the consumers and the privacy of the consumers and businesses that use VPNs would be compromised.
Another con of solution 1 is that content industry has to keep up with the numbers of pirate sites. Every time a website is blocked a new one would replace it. The cycle never ends. And this will be costly for both the content industry and ISPs if they were to try to block pirate sites.
By implementing solution 2, people are less compelled to pirate due to the accessibly and availability of content. They do not a have to go through pages of searches to find the content they want and content industry would oblige to offer more contents at globally competitive prices. From our research, we concluded that the main reason behind the piracy of Game of Thrones or primarily TV shows in Australia was due to availability. Due to global popularity, the show has many followings. People want to watch and discuss about it as soon as it is released. Low accessibility and delayed time for release in Australia resulted in the show being highly pirated. With solution 2, the number of piracy will be reduced and the revenue for content industry would increase. This is a win-win situation for both consumers and content industry.
4 SURVEY QUESTIONS Artist Do you consider yourself a well-known or unknown artist? In the past year, do you think piracy of your works increase your popularity? Has piracy affected your profit? Do you think the content industry or record companies has done enough to innovate ways to encourage people to access content legitimately?
Content Industry: How much does the company lose due to piracy? Why Australians have to pay more for digital contents compared to consumers in United States and EU? Do you think using strong arm tactics to reduce piracy is morally right such as speculative invoicing? What do you think is the main factor for piracy? Do you have any evidence to show that lowering piracy would significantly increase legitimately purchased contents?
ISP: Should the content industry shoulder the cost for implementing piracy prevention measures such as website blocking? Are you responsible for what your customers download on the Internet? What actions do you think is the most cost effective way to reduce piracy? Who is most responsible for content piracy?
Consumers: What is your age? What is your highest education level? What do you think should be considered as pirating copyrighted content? Do you think people should be criminalized and penalized for downloading contents that are not available in Australia, since the fault lies in the content industry of not providing avenues for purchase?
Government How are you going to protect the privacy of users that downloaded copyrighted contents and prevent the content industry from exploiting alleged users such as speculative invoicing and perhaps harassment? How are you going to educate the public on Internet piracy and their legal rights if they received summons letters? Do you think legislative routes to protect copyright such as surveillance and blocking of websites affect the privacy of individuals?
APPENDIX A: REFERENCES
1. RIAA – What is Online Piracy? – August 16, 2015 (http://www.riaa.com) https://www.riaa.com/physicalpiracy.php?content_selector=What-is-Online-Piracy
2. Abc.net.au,. (2011). The case for piracy – Blog – ABC Technology and Games (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). Retrieved 16 August 2015, from http://www.abc.net.au/technology/articles/2011/10/20/3344351.htm
3. The Sydney Morning Herald,. (2015). The new anti-piracy site-blocking laws: what you need to know and how the web will change as a result. Retrieved 16 August 2015, from http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/digital-life-news/antipiracy-siteblocking-laws-what-you-need-to-know-20150622-ghv1wf.html
4. (2015). Retrieved 16 August 2015, from http://www.cutn.sk/Library/proceedings/mch_2013/editovane_prispevky/52.%20Stropkov%C3%A1.pdf
5. NewsComAu,. (2015). Most pirates say they’d pay for legal downloads. Retrieved 16 August 2015, from http://www.news.com.au/technology/internet-pirates-say-theyd-pay-for-legal-downloads/story-e6frfro0-1225863187697
6. NewsComAu,. (2015). Most pirates say they’d pay for legal downloads. Retrieved 16 August 2015, from http://www.news.com.au/technology/internet-pirates-say-theyd-pay-for-legal-downloads/story-e6frfro0-1225863187697
7. NewsComAu,. (2015). Top three reasons we choose illegal downloads. Retrieved 16 August 2015, from http://www.news.com.au/technology/why-do-australians-choose-illegal-downloads/story-e6frfro0-1225863649562
APPENDIX B: KEY TERMS The following table provides definitions for terms relevant to this document. Term Definition VPN A virtual private network (VPN) is a method for the extension of a private network across a public network, such as the Internet. It enables consumers to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if their computing devices were directly connected to the private network, and thus are benefiting from the functionality, security and management policies of the private network.
A VPN is created by establishing a virtual point-to-point connection through the use of dedicated connections, virtual tunneling protocols, or traffic encryption. ISP An Internet service provider (ISP) is an organization that provides services for accessing, using, or participating in the Internet. Internet service providers may be organized in various forms, such as commercial, community-owned, non-profit, or otherwise privately owned.