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EYE-BALL Opinion – The Last Word on Copyright Piracy – News Ltd Chief shows ignorance –


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– The Last Word on Copyright Piracy  –
– News Ltd Chief shows ignorance –
| Author: EYE-BALL Opinion | 21st Aug 2012 |
T he commercial world of TV, Movies, Music, and other visual and audio entertainment have been fighting a war against copyright piracy for many decades.

It’s been a losing war for artists, producers and the like because they can’t stop the pirates operating in Nations where copyright infringement is seen as a challenge rather then breaking the law.  The Producers and by association the artists believe everybody should pay for the right to view/hear their product that is subject to copyright laws.

At a keynote speech made by News Ltd CEO – Kim Williams – and delivered at the Australian International Movie Convention held at Jupiter’s Casino during the week – Mr Williams spoke on his perspective of how the digital age has aided and abetted the piracy industry.

The greatest medium of education and entertainment for thousands of years has been literature, fiction, non fiction, historical, biographical, educational, inspirational, or whatever else is your passion, you name it, you can find it in a library.   The best and most notable of authors throughout history were and are happy to have their works stored and read free of charge by the global citizenship.  Library copies are purchased in most cases – some original one-off collection pieces are donated.  But by and large – authors love to have their work(s) available through library reading.

As a contrast to that generosity by all the famous authors whose works are available throughout all the libraries of the world – now read what Mr Williams has to say in his keynote address.

Please click on this [PDF file link] – to read Mr William’s full Keynote address to the Australian International Movie Convention – 21st Aug 2012.

An extract appears below:


| Author: Kim Williams | Date: Aug 21st 2012 | Link to On-Line Copy of keynote Address. |

” … Let’s think for a moment about two of the greatest creative geniuses of all time, certainly two of the greatest in the English language: William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens. If Shakespeare and Dickens were alive today it’s my bet they would either be Hollywood script writers or creating great television drama for HBO. They would be the dons in a profession that has recently boasted names like David Mamet, Sidney Lumet and Dalton Trumbo, as well as our own Andrew Bovell, John Collee and Baz Luhrmann.

Both Shakespeare and Dickens were prolific and famous in their own times. Both men were able to retire comparatively wealthy because they had a means of monetising their art. For Shakespeare it lay in being part of a theatre able to set up a gate and only let in those able to part with a few pennies for standing room or a bit more for a seat. For Dickens it was selling his stories to subscription-only magazines and selling tickets to his popular book readings. The leakage of money would certainly have been there. No doubt a few people jumped the fence at the Globe or borrowed their friends’ magazines. Others perhaps listened to Dickens’ readings through a hole in the wall. But they would not have faced the truly astounding levels of intellectual theft they would face today in the age of digital publishing and distribution.

Imagine if you will, a rival theatre setting itself up across the Thames from the Globe, charging one-fifth the door price to see a rendition of Julius Caesar, using a script they had transcribed from the official performance. Or imagine a free magazine that serialised Oliver Twist, re-typeset without permission from Bentley’s Miscellany the day after the original’s publication. There may have been no Hamlet and no Great Expectations. No literary legends; just a couple of under-appreciated writers starving in their London garrets, now the subjects of literature PhD dissertations, instead of hundreds upon hundreds of movie and television adaptations.

So imagine what we may be losing today. Imagine the great works that are not being produced because the digital bandits are creating virtual pirate Globe Theatres and virtual literary magazines and making off with possibly 65 percent of the profits.

If you think I’m exaggerating, think again, because the copyright bandits of the paper age of Shakespeare and Dickens had nothing on the copyright kleptomaniacs of the digital age …

A story of Mr Williams address was reported by The Herald Sun – a News publication and it appears below:

Piracy, illegal downloads threaten industry, News Ltd chief executive Kim Williams says

| Author: James Wigney | Date: Aug 21st 2012 | Link to On-Line Story. |

MOVIE, music and television lovers will be denied great pieces of art if piracy and illegal downloading continue to grow unchecked, according to one of Australia’s top media executives.

In delivering the keynote address at the Australian International Movie Convention on the Gold Coast today, News Limited Chief Executive Kim Williams said that digital piracy was affecting the financial viability of film, television and music around the world more than ever before and threatening jobs across the industry.

Illustrating his point, Mr Williams speculated what today’s artistic landscape would look like had Dickens and Shakespeare had to contend with digital piracy in the same epidemic proportions it now exists.

“Imagine the great works that are not being produced because the digital bandits are creating virtual pirate Globe Theatres and virtual literary magazines and making off with possibly 65 per cent of the profits,” Mr Williams said.

“If you think I’m exaggerating, think again, because the copyright bandits of the paper age of Shakespeare and Dickens had nothing on the copyright kleptomaniacs of the digital age.”

Mr Williams quoted this year’s report from the Intellectual Property Awareness Foundation, which revealed that more than 37 per cent of Australians admit to having downloaded material illegally and that about 60 per cent of persistent downloaders download illegally at least once per week.

That behaviour made them less likely to buy DVDs, download pay-per-view programming, buy content from iTunes or go to the movies. One estimate he quoted said that pirating movies cost the Australian economy $1.37 billion last year.

“That’s money out of all our pockets,” he said.

“And culture taken from all our lives. And cultural development taken from our nation.”

Mr Williams compared illegal downloading to the looters in last year’s London riots and said consumers had to take responsibility for their own actions but also that copyright laws had to change to reflect the shift in mindset from “analogue to digital”.

“What the Australian production and distribution industry needs are renovated legal underpinnings that acknowledge the primary right of copyright owners to exploit their work in the certain knowledge that theft will be prevented and punished equally,” he said.

“Without that core commercial underpinning the outlook for our industry – the digital entertainment industry – is grim indeed.”

Mr Williams also proposed that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should also shoulder some of the responsibility for tackling the problem of repeat offenders who use their networks, by threatening to slow down or stop their downloads if the illegal activities continued.

The National Broadband Network (NBN) currently being constructed also had a special duty of care to protect the digital economy, he said.

“Just like a Solicitor-General is expected to act as a model litigant in the legal system, a publicly-created NBN should be expected to act as a model digital network – setting the ethical, legal and commercial standards for all else to follow,” Mr Williams said.

Mr Williams said that the movie industry itself had to be ever more vigilant in educating consumers and more digital content should be produced to meet the growing demand. But he rejected the defence that consumers download illegally because they claim there are a lack of affordable and legal alternatives.

“The fact is, more and more legal content is going on line every day,” he said. “And there are more sites offering legal content, more easily and at lower cost to your computers and mobile devices.”

And … to make a small point – ‘The Australian’ also published a story on this same keynote speech – [linked here] – and you will find that to read this story you will have to pay for the privilege and become an on-line subscriber.  [This is one of many reasons that this site publishes ‘The Australian’ stories it uses as a reference – in full.]

There is no doubt that the piracy spoken of by Mr Williams does exist and income from sales revenue is being stripped from the artist, the publishers and the promoters seeking financial gain.

But again let me suggest that there is more to this outright condemnation of ‘copyright infringement’ – Mr Williams’ point is in fact just a single perspective to what is happening as a result of high speed internet advancement.

For example let us track back a generation or so and review –

  1. Example 1 – I go into a bookstore and buy a book. I love the book so much that I lend it to a friend to read who does likewise, and that single book gets read by 100 people over the next year or so. Remember it has only been paid for once – according to the absolute opinion presented by Mr Williams, does this breach any current copyright laws, or piracy allegations – of course not.

Now let us advance the scenario forward to say 10 years ago –

  1. Example 2 – Now take the same analogy with a DVD, and add that someone copied the DVD and lent it to a friend, who then copied it and gave it to a friend, and so on, and so on.  Is that a copyright infringement, or in line with the piracy Mr William talks about – again of course not – there was no commercial gain.

The question is then framed around technology advancement by Mr Williams.  Therefore we go to the next example:

  1. What say that instead of copying the DVD I uploaded it to my server and told my friends they could download a copy read or view my upload by downloading a copy onto their computer. Is that any different than lending the book, or handing over the DVD copy – again of course not – where is the commercial advantage?

This has to be a question that challenges all existing copyright laws.  In Australia copyright Law is governed by the following Act –  Link to the original Copyright Act 1968.]   [Link to Wikipedia summary of the changes made via the Copyright Amendment Act 2006.]

The summary of the amendments to the 1968 Act in 2006 – as an attempt to embrace the ‘digital age’ is summarised below:

” … The Copyright Amendment Act 2006 made changes required by the US-Australia Free Trade Agreement. In particular, it strengthened anti-circumvention laws, for the first time making it illegal in Australia to circumvent technical measures used by copyright owners to protect access to their works, and expanding the measures which count as technological protection measures which may not be circumvented. Like the FTA language, the new anti-circumvention law is closely modeled on the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, although it is not identical.

The Act also introduced a series of new exceptions into Australian copyright law. The most well known are the private copying exceptions, which follow on from proposals by former Attorney-General Philip Ruddock to allow people to record most television or radio program at home to watch at a later time with family or friends, and to format-shift their music (make copies from CDs onto personal computers and portable music players such as iPods). Unlike some countries in Europe, or Canada, there is no fee or license paid on players to compensate copyright owners for these private copies, although the exceptions are narrowly defined, and do not allow, for example, making copies for friends or family. The Act also introduced a copyright exception allowing parody and satire, and an exception to allow certain non-commercial use by public sector institutions like universities, schools, art galleries, and archives, provided that an Australian court decides an exception would be consistent with the Berne three-step test.

The other notable change made by the Act was to expand the provisions concerning criminal copyright infringement. The Act introduced strict liability offences for some copyright infringements, and a system of ‘Infringement Notices’ (on the spot fines). The stated aim of these provisions is to make copyright easier to enforce, particularly against commercial infringers. After concerns from user groups and a Senate Committee, many strict liability offences that would have applied to non-commercial acts were removed from the final bill.

A discussion of the Act and its changes by the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs procuded a New Report – that report is available here from the APH website.

link to Wikipedia source

The context of all Copyright laws is based on someone gaining a financial benefit from any alleged copyright infringement.  Most presume that to be a financial gain, but it also covers intellectual benefit an the like.

To go to Mr Williams comment suggesting that downloading movies and the like over the internet is a brazen copyright infringement – presents commentary that reflects his and his audience’s monetized agenda.

Internet download of movies, music, and other material is almost in all cases done for private use – i.e. no more that lending a book that someone else purchased and using modern technology to lend that content to others who wanted to read it.

I hear someone asking about computer software piracy – again most of the downloaded software only works at a percentage and basic level of the original software package.  But you tell me – what happens if I sell my computer and all the software on that computer is purchased and registered? Is that not a legitimate transfer of software ownership?

A market in second-hand software is legitimate if you can get the owner and register keeper of the software to allow you to re-register the same software in a different name.  It’s a market awash with no real regulation or regulatory response. In other words the ‘software’ piracy market requires a complete overhaul and a separate section to copyright laws.

Back to the downloading of movies and TV shows as targeted by Mr Williams.  Mr Williams wants every person to buy an original copy of every artist(s) works.  He does not counter in his speech about free exchange of content – he assumes everybody who copies a movie of TV show is automatically a crook.

Let us examine another example – you go to see a movie – every patron buys a ticket – and then you then get to sit in comfort and watch the movie after having paid a 3-400% markup of candy and the like.

That Movie Theatre gets a cut off the ticket price of every patron, and that admission price is then further split down the line when ‘box office’ receipts are calculated, and everybody who is connected with the movie gets their slice of the pie.  This is the copyright dues.

The movie is then syndicated to video/DVD sales and rentals and a patron who loved the movie purchases a copy for themselves and starts to share the movie around.  There is no financial gain in this ‘sharing’, and if that sharing be aligned with the downloading from free websites – where is the commercial trigger for copyright infringement.

I download every day – and it’s a matter of convenience for me because I do not like to watch commercial ads. The download version is always ad free.  Another enjoyment factor is that I can wait until a TV season is complete and then watch every show back to back rather than await the TV station showing the show according to its own advertisement agenda.   ANd the most important reason is because Australian TV content does not show the quality of TV shows that is available from around the globe.

Australian content is determined by owners of TV stations based on what they think their paying advertisers will pay to advertise and associate their product with.  If the audience wants a broader selection of content – why should they not download what is being denied them.  Just so long as they don’t package the downloads in a commercial context.

No – Mr Williams you have only looked at copyright piracy from your own monetized perspective – and as News is a producer of large blockbuster movies – you are speaking and preaching to an audience that is already convinced.

Sure – go after the pirates who copy and sell their copied versions – mainly out of Asia – but you and the Feds have tried and failed to halt that trade.

Can I give you one other piece of advice – you need to look at both sides of this so-called infringement of copyright laws before you go off half-cocked preaching to a vested audience who already suck the life out of a movie or TV launch through merchandising and teaser promo advertising.

The wisdom of authors, screen writers, poets, and all the other artists who give freely to the literary world, should be allowed to continue to offer these mediums for private and personal enjoyment.

Libraries are the delivery system of that pleasure.  The fact that technology has advanced and come up with a better delivery system does not give you license to create mayhem over perceived loss of revenues.

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Have your say where it counts: – contact your Local Federal Representative via the links below and let them know how you feel about this, or any other topic that you feel strongly about – or you can just post a comment below and let off some steam.

Links to Australian Parliamentary Website – MP’s

The EYE-BALL Opinion …

  1. david the pragmatist
    August 22, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    OK, your points are valid and Mr Williams can go join the queue.(the farq…(k) (y)ue… think crow).
    I am always bemused by numbers that get quoted ie $1.35 billion in Australia is supposedly a cost to the economy and meaning us the taxpayers). I would love to rationalise this ie.would people would spend this amount alternatively on movies and pay tv ?, people would spend it by giving to charity? people would buy more advertising on tv channels, people would spend more money on DVDs and Tv streaming, people would eat more at restaurants because they would be forced to go out and entertain themselves, donate more to political parties, make more employment for event openings and so… so…on….

    Who does this research? and would we not be agreeing that if you want some research we can get any number of results depending on who commissioned the research.
    Can I be so cynical to say the actors, screenwriters and other perip….als of the industry would get fuck all and the Mr Williams of the world would just reap bigger profits.
    In 3rd world countries there is a whole underground industry in selling pirated DVDs, are we going to have these people go hungry for the purposes of fattening Mr Williams some more,not to mention the 100000’s plus tourists who have the joy of shopping for same.

    Mr Williams I suspect has never gone into bat for the little person in his whole life, why should we trust or expect him to start now.!!!!!
    and finally and I’m sure we can get the research done on this, what huge effect has the pirating have on keeping the price down for the consumer. Imagine the rip off prices we would be faced with, with his monopoly if he had one. Thats right, monopolies exist because of exactly these reasons. If Angelina and the boyfriend have to cut their movie take to $10m each, do you think they will still be able to survive?

  2. August 22, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    Link to VexNews interview with ‘Pirate Party’ founder on copyright piracy laws in Australia – 22nd Aug 2012:


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