Thou shall not infringe copyright #iidallas | ABC Adelaide

id3In the wake of the ruling that compelled iiNet and other ISP providers to release the names and contact details of 4,726 account holders that may have downloaded the movie Dallas Buyers Club, there’s been lots of discussion about this being a watershed moment in Australia and illegal downloading, but to me this is a far more interesting conversation than piracy and downloading as Sonya Feldhoff of ABC radio Adelaide and I chatted about what this ruling really means.

Lets get the basics out-of-the-way:

  1. downloading is not illegal in Australia, it never has been and is likely never to be, it is copyright infringement that is at stake here.
  1. the court has to yet to accept the letter of demand that will be sent to those thought likely of infringing so it is unlikely that huge penalties will be sought.
  1. it is not going to be easy to find the real culprits if many of these are internet cafe’s, businesses or commercial entities, or if they’re teenagers what happens then. And
  1. if they do find a culprit and they refuse to pay, will it be worth the effort and expense to bring them to court?

I am not condoning what they are claimed to have done. Stealing is stealing and we have for far too long had a sense of digital entitlement believing that if we can access it on our screens we’re entitled to have it for free, regardless of who owns it, or the pains they went through to create it.

To me this was a PR victory at best, it has many people talking about it.

But the deeper issue here is that once again we are enacting laws and becoming self-righteous after the fact.

This technology and this activity has been around for a long time, we could have enacted laws and adjusted cultural norms long before this and now that we have it’s all too late.

There will of course be people who will download into the future, but it is far more likely that soon this will be far less common as we move closer to what happened in the music industry, where we moved from buying an album, to buying a song, to illegally pirating a song and now on to relatively low spend subscription models where we can legally listen to as many songs as we want to for one all-inclusive price.

The ease and ubiquity of subscribing has made it far easier to have the music you want on any device at any time and has been the catalyst for the drop in illegal music downloads, it has also changed the income artists, writers and distributors make and forced many artists to re-imagine how they can earn money from their music, causing

many to go back on the road and tour, sign merchandising deals and extend beyond their craft into other business.

Movie watching and creation will follow a similar path. In Australia we are beginning to see the move away from the dominance of free to air and cable, to on demand movie services offering low monthly all-inclusive subscriptions.

We are also seeing content creation moving beyond the traditional movie studios into the every-person space and the growth of video broadcasting services like vine and periscope democratise video creation and distribution.

It is far more likely that as our smart TV’s and phones come loaded with more and more features that make it easy to subscribe to and watch low-cost all you can devour services, that we will forego the difficulty of finding

and downloading a movie to instead watching it legally anywhere at anytime.

Beyond this is the notion and worth of copyright. It once made perfect sense as a protection tool, but it is expensive, unwieldy and time-consuming.

In today’s fast paced, always innovating world, are copyright’s and trademarks still viable?

The answer is often no.

As good as they are, they may not readily suit future fast paced business needs. So how, if at all, do we protect our intellectual property in this brave new world?

The problem with our response to the future is that is so often predicated on our past behaviors and thinking and increasingly what we did and wanted before, are not the best indicators of what we will want and do tomorrow.

Perhaps instead we should have the legal and cultural debate at the beginning of a technology’s existence, not after its imminent demise.

Have a listen to the segment now (22 minutes 19 seconds), share this round and let’s get the debate started.


Eye on the Future - Apr 9, 2015 | All, Horizon Trends, Radio Interview, Social, Technology
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