Since the arrival of Netflix in Australia there’s less and less excuses for people to pirate content, Greg Waters, a freelance TV writer, script editor and producer, has said.
“Part of the thing that Netflix coming has done has taken away that whingy ‘oh Australia is so far behind the rest of the world’.
“I think people are making a moral choice to stop pirating.”
Speaking at The Walkleys Storyology conference in Sydney last Friday, Waters was responding to a question from moderator Phillipa McGuiness, executive publisher at NewSouth Publishing, about whether we’ve become more optimistic about piracy since Netflix joined the Aussie video throngs, and about piracy in film and TV now.
“Most of the evidence does seem to be anecdotal,” said McGuiness, “however there does seem to be some decrease in television piracy due to Netflix.”
However, it shouldn’t come down to a case where people are terrified to pirate content, warned Waters.
There was a big issue earlier this year where the film company behind Dallas Buyers Club, Voltage Pictures, won a court case for a internet service providers to hand over info of people who had illegally downloaded the film.
This kind of case caused a wave of fear around users, with numerous stories popping up about how much people had to pay, speculation as to what would happen to them and the like. One internet service provider iiNET even offered pro-bono services for worried users.
While not mentioning the Dallas Buyers Club case specifically, Waters didn’t believe Australia should have a “system of surveillance and crackdown”.
“I just have no desire to see a regime that is so harsh and onerous that 19-year-old computer geeks are too scared to pirate Game of Thrones,” he said.
Sherman Young, pro vice-chancellor, learning and teaching at Macquarie University, added: “The days where Australia could arguably not get access to things is over.
“The reality is we live in a 24/7 globe, people want things right now, and then we can argue whether we actually have the right to want things right now.”
Which they did later on in the panel.
“I think it’s absolute,” said Young about a consumer’s right to content, from his own opinion.
“What content creators need to understand is that creativity is absolutely the domain of the creator. But once it’s out there, it’s owned, engaged with, read, re-read, re-purposed, re-mixed, by millions of people.
“So once it’s out there, it’s owned by the audiences. In that perspective we have, I think, every right to get whatever we want.”
However, McGuiness pointed out it depends whether the creators of the content actually want their content out there – which would dictate whether it’s been stolen or repurposed in a way not to their wishes.
“I think that that’s then a violation of the creator’s rights,” she said.
Waters however stressed the costs and efforts involved in each production of each show, in the case of the topic American Horror Story, getting rather passionate about it.
“To create something that’s complex, and difficult and complex and time consumer – it came out of their hearts. Those writers sat down and sweated blood in silence in a darkened room and drew on their own experience of their rights and years and years and years of craft skills built up…
“They [the creators] sort of get the right to say ‘no, this is my business decision about how much it costs and how much gets distributed!’”
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