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Piracy Is An Access Problem: Germany, Sting and Game of Thrones

Posted by: , 18:52 AEDT, Sat March 3, 2012

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From Germans having to rely on the Chinese to get more Internet freedom, to Game of Thrones episode hunting on the Internet, access, or the lack of it to legal content, remains a key web piracy driver on the Internet

An idea has been gaining ground recently, that the cause of web piracy lay closer to the problem of access, rather than "freeloaders" and "criminals" doing what they do on the Internet.

A recent report showed that main cause of elevated piracy rates in Europe, compared to the United States, was largely an issue of access, with release windows to blame for as much as 7% losses in revenue. 

Then there are tech leaders such as Valve's (and Steam's) Gabe Newell, that has long labelled piracy a service issue, rather than one to do with price.

And if true, the blame would lie at the feet of content and license holders for not making legal content as readily available as consumers are demanding, mainly out of a irrational fear of what the Internet means for their ageing business models.

Techdirt reminds us this week of one such license holder, in Germany. GEMA, the German organisation responsible for music performance royalties in that country, has been engaged in a long running battle with YouTube. A side effect of the lawsuit filed against the web video company sees new music videos on YouTube, even official music videos, being blocked in Germany.

This week, in a Kafkaesque scenario, one Twitter user reported having to use a Chinese web proxy to access Sting's latest music video on YouTube. Yes, the Chinese, the bastion of Internet freedoms.

And even when lawsuit-imposed censorship isn't an issue, content holders still seem to make it as hard as possible for users to access content, even if they're willing to pay. It's probably best summed up, in a comical fashion, by this web comic (note: rude words present), about the futile attempts to pay for episodes of the hit HBO TV show, Game of Thrones online, and the eventual, and predicted, "solution".

And then you have DRM, region restrictions, and all the other technical measures that content holders have come up with to make life more difficult for paying customers, all in the name of fighting web piracy.

So while web piracy remains an issue that needs further action, perhaps the best action that can be taken right now would be for content holders to wake up to the potential of the Internet (to do good, for their bottom line) and remove the access hurdles that are forcing people to pirate, even when they don't want to.


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