Piracy of television content is a “huge issue that can mostly be solved” with a change of law, an awareness campaign and a commitment to timely delivery of shows, according to Foxtel.
Speaking at the Screen Producers Australia Screen Forever conference Richard Freudenstein said the seriousness of piracy is underplayed in Australia.
“There are about 950,000 people in this country whose jobs depend in some way, shape or form on the creative industries,” he said.
“If we don’t fix this piracy issue there is going to be less than 950,000 in the next few years and that is a serious, serious issue.”
Freudenstein said Foxtel research revealed that most TV show and movie downloaders do not realise what they are doing is wrong.
An awareness campaign explaining why would help, but he says it would be important not to use big name stars but the everyday person who the practice harms.
“You need to get the people who really will be affected to be making these campaigns, cameramen, and catering persons, whatever it is, all those people whose jobs will be affected if we don’t stop this.”
He said Australians were the biggest downloaders of Breaking Bad, with 16% of all downloads in the world within the first 12 hours coming from Australia.
“It is just because in Australia we don’t have the legislative framework to create any deterrent to that whatsoever,” he added.
“It is probably impossible to fix it completely but it is not that hard to fix a lot of it. All we need is a legislation which will actually get the ISPs to block illegal sites and to send notices to the people who are illegally file sharing.”
He referenced France’s practice of sending warning letters to downloaders and said first-letters dropped illegal file sharing there by 90%.
In the UK, when the ISPs blocked Pirate Bay users dropped from five million to 1 million within the first 30 days he said.
“What most people still don’t realise is that these illegal sites make their money from advertising gambling…and porn. So these kids who are accessing these sites are getting straight into these completely unregulated worlds of these pirate sites.”
He also acknowledged that it was up to broadcasters to deliver the sought-after shows as soon as possible so fans “don’t need to steal it”.