Cliffy actor Roy Billing has written to News Limited in response to an article by columnist Alice Clarke on piracy that argued, “To beat a pirate, one must think like a pirate” (May 9).
He wrote in part:
The film industry fully recognises that copyright piracy is a complex problem with no one solution. I agree that, as Ms Clarke wrote, “pulling a Metallica and abusing everyone while suing them” isn’t the answer, and that’s why the local film industry has never pursued that route.
My understanding of copyright comes down to it essentially being the freedom to choose. If you create something or own the copyright in a film or TV show, you have the freedom to choose how you want to screen that content and whether you want to monetise it or give it away.
But some people have not come to terms with the idea that intellectual property is applied to all forms of creative works – from writing, to graphic design, pharmaceuticals, music and film-making. It would appear that a percentage of people (albeit small) expect that everything should be free online. That is totally at odds with offline values, behaviours and norms. Contrary to the tired yet convenient excuse, when generally law-abiding citizens access content illegally online, it’s not simply a question of availability.
It is true that not all popular TV shows screen at the same time as the US, but relying on those that don’t as a justification for copyright piracy is not a credible argument – it is merely a convenient excuse.
He goes on to write about much more that you can read here.
As a jobbing actor in this country Billing makes some very valid points, just as he did in 2010 when he wrote to the Sydney Morning Herald on the very same subject.
Back then Nine was offering Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities , in which he appeared, via its Catch-Up site. Astoundingly, it even said “You can also copy and share each episode or even distribute the files via file-sharing applications, such as Bit Torrent.”
I doubt anybody remembers that pearler, let alone be willing to endorse it in 2013. How times have changed.
What should also be remembered (and isn’t referenced in Billing’s latest letter) is that in October 2012 an ACMA report found a high level of willingness by survey respondents to pay for online video. Half of those intending to access an online video service in the following six months indicated they were prepared to pay for it.
The music industry faced similar piracy threats over a decade ago when Napster was prevalent and eventually arrived with the iTunes model. We have AppleTV but there are still limits about buying titles in Australia that are freely accessible in the US because they haven’t aired here yet. And the way some networks juggle their content some of them never will.
The Netflix model of releasing full series of content to consumers for binge-viewing is the next wave of entertainment. I was reading yesterday that Arrested Development had already been pirated more than 100,000 times in 24 hours (well behind Game of Thrones season premiere downloaded 1 million times two months ago).
I concur that copyright material should be paid for to reward the artists who produce it and whose livelihood depends upon monetising it. Central to this is access, a sensible price and not holding back the content at a speed slower than Cliffy shuffling down the inter-highway.