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Australian ISP Says Rights Holders Are 'Content Control Freaks'

Posted by: , 15:48 AEST, Wed June 25, 2014

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Australian ISP calls on government to address the real reasons behind piracy, instead of deploying a "simplistic and futile content blocking strategy" at the behest "content control freaks"
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Image/Photo Credit: Tobias Vemmenby @ Flickr, CC

The executive of one of Australia's largest ISPs has warned the Australian government to not repeat the same mistakes as other countries when it comes to implementing new anti-piracy legislation.

Australian ISP iiNet's chief regulatory officer Steve Dalby said in a blog post that the country risks becoming "a brain-dead zombie" if it blindly follows other countries like France and the US in implementing new digital copyright laws.

Specifically referring to site blocking, Dalby says the approach is unlikely to work as the Internet "has no gate that we can put a padlock on". Instead, Dalby says this is simply the government wanting to be seen as "doing something" on the piracy issue, and they're doing it by targeting ISPs while at the same time "defending, at all costs, the business model of the Hollywood movie houses."

Dalby also warns of the "arms race" between those seeking a simple, but ultimately ineffective solution to the piracy problem, and pirates determined to get their download fix. The blog then post goes into detail the various ways pirates can bypass censorship and monitoring regimes, all of them being used by pirates in countries that have implemented these regimes.

Dalby says that site blocking and monitoring would be a "futile" approach that does not really get to the heart of the problem: why people choose to pirate in the first place.

Worryingly, Dalby says the government also wants to crack down on those who are willing to pay for content, albeit from foreign sources via the use of VPNs and geo-unblockers. 

"They want to stop Australians from bypassing geo-blocking, an artificial restraint on trade. Trade covered, ironically, by something called a ‘Free Trade Agreement’," Dalby explains.

Finally, Dalby warns rights holders not to be too narrow visioned when it comes to the piracy issue, and really address the issues why people pirate, or why they are willing to pay for US based services over local based ones.

"Years of ranting against piracy – while ignoring customer feedback – have got rights holders nowhere. Rather than declaring war on frustrated customers, perhaps we should declare war on the problems which have driven Australians to take their business elsewhere," Dalby adds. "And to the content control freaks, we say – start treating your customers as customers, not the enemy, and you might find things improve."


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