On 17 June 2014 the ABC’s 7.30 program made a number of false claims about CHOICE’s position on the issue of online piracy. We'd like to set the record straight.
Updated (19 June 2014): 7:30 made the following clarification on its 18 June 2014 broadcast - "The consumer group CHOICE says it does not condone copyright piracy. It says it believes that Australians should be able to access and pay for content from overseas providers at a cheaper rate than is charged in Australia without being blocked by the government or local television operators."
CHOICE does not support piracy as the program claimed. Piracy makes industries such as film, music and TV unsustainable. Without financial rewards, artists and media companies have no incentive to create. As a provider of exclusive content, made available only to paying subscribers, we are keenly aware of this fact.
But CHOICE thinks that to stop a problem such as piracy, you need to understand its causes. Illegal downloading has become commonplace because media companies have failed to keep up with changing consumer viewing habits and technology.
CHOICE believes the movie and TV industry must adapt to cater to how and when consumers want to view their entertainment.
Meanwhile, Australians continue to be hit with higher prices for identical products.
Access to content
7.30's report failed to accurately report our position, which is that Australians should be able to access and pay for content from overseas providers without being blocked by local industry or the federal government.
We encourage consumers to access content legally, including content from overseas, while condemning piracy. Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN), as many consumers do, to access sites like Netflix and Hulu is not illegal. It does not breach Australian copyright law, although it may violate a site's terms of service.
Recently, the bi-partisan inquiry into IT price discrimination in Australia recommended
enabling consumers to use VPNs to access cheaper products from overseas.
The film and TV industry needs to change to meet the needs of consumers and keep up with advances in technology.
That's why we're calling on the government and industry to address the real issues of online piracy: a lack of access to competitively priced and flexible content.
And this is why we are opposed to draconian policies such as internet filters and “graduated response” schemes, which are costly, which slow down internet speeds, and which ultimately fail to reduce piracy.
For more information check out our campaign.