Content Cafe


Industry Voices Q&A – How do you think Australia is measuring up in tackling piracy?

by Content Café, 23 February 2022

Throughout 2021 Content Cafe ran a series entitled Insider Insights, publishing articles written by 24 industry mavens across the music, publishing, games and screen content industries who shared their knowledge and opinions on copyright and content theft, and the affect it has on their stakeholders, business models and revenue. One of the questions they were asked, was how they thought Australia was measuring up in tackling piracy. Here are some of their responses, demonstrating the high regard in which industry professionals perceive the legislative protections enacted by the Australian government – such as site-blocking - and the consumer education programs disseminated by the creative industry anti-piracy body Creative Content Australia.

Diane Hamer – Head Of Business & Legal Affairs, Content And Brand Protection BBC Studios

Australia has a sophisticated IP regime, which in principle offers appropriate tools to assist rights owners to protect their content. One such tool is the ability to apply to the court for site blocking injunctions requiring ISPs and other intermediaries to block access to pirate websites coming into Australia. This is one of the best available remedies against piracy, as it requires intermediaries – most of whom are legitimate entities with no interest in supporting piracy – to act against pirates when the pirates themselves do not comply with the law. Like in many other countries though, such applications are expensive and court processes never move as quickly as the pirates can.

I think a fruitful area for development in Australia would be around criminal enforcement. The UK has a dedicated IP crime taskforce (PIPCU – Police Intellectual Property Crimes Unit) which has proved hugely effective in tackling all manner of IP crime – from fake car airbags and fake batteries to IPTV piracy. Although IP crime falls within the mandate of the Australian Federal Police, as far as I am aware, there is no dedicated unit within the AFP that specifically tackles this. IP crime is such a complex and vast subject that I think there are real benefits to having it tackled by a dedicated and specialist force.

Belinda LuiPresident & Managing Director, Motion Picture Association Asia Pacific

It is fortunate that Australia takes piracy seriously. The Government established site blocking laws which have proven to greatly reduce access to major international piracy websites. In one case study, piracy websites blocked by the court experienced a decline of 53.4%[1]. The industry has coordinated effectively by establishing Creative Content Australia, which plays an important role raising awareness about piracy through research, consumer campaigns and educational modules.

Andrew CrippsPresident International Theatrical Distribution, Warner Brothers

We are grateful for the leadership shown by the Australian Government’s actions. Australia’s site blocking legislation requiring Internet service providers to disable access to court-adjudicated pirate domains is world class, and the subsequent expansion of that obligation to search engines to also delist the court-adjudicated pirate domains in Australia was a world first.

Nevertheless, technology keeps changing, which means legislation needs to keep up.

Australia is also best in class for education and awareness. Creative Content Australia’s industry stakeholder model, focused on research, public relations campaigns and clear messaging over many years, is one that could and should be adopted elsewhere.

Liz Bales CEO The Industry Trust for IP Awareness

We’ve had the pleasure of working and sharing progress with CCA for many years and are consistently impressed with the good work [they] are doing. It’s so positive to see robust consumer evidence informing the direction of travel, and the level of collaboration across the film sector.

It’s equally positive for Australian consumers to witness and utilise the range of local and global services now available, giving audiences so many ways to find and enjoy brilliant content.

Phil Clapp CEO, UK Cinema Association

The experience of the last decade and more is that film theft is very much a global challenge – a film captured in a cinema anywhere in the world will soon be accessible online to all comers. So every territory has its part to play.

I genuinely think that Australia is taking the lead in a number of areas in the fight against piracy, not least in its efforts to establish a ‘joined up’ response to the challenges through the work of the Creative Content Australia whose public messaging work is very similar to that of our own Industry Trust for IP Awareness, with similarly positive results in terms of changing the type of public attitudes mentioned above.

Michael D. Smith and Rahul TelangProfessors at Carnegie Mellon University

Australia is a leader in the fight against piracy, particularly in the context of making it harder for Australian citizens to discover pirate sites through search engines and to block access to sites dedicated to infringing content.

…Our research found that website blocking efforts in the UK caused a significant reduction in piracy consumption and a corresponding increase in subscriptions to legal streaming channels, and we expect that the laws in Australia are having a similar effect.

Alison Crinion Communications Director, the Irish Industry Trust for IP Awareness

Piracy is a global challenge and the articles put forward by Content Café illustrate to me that Australia has mobilised the industry to act together in a cohesive way, supported by Government and ready to step up to the challenge.

Ruth VitaleCEO of CreativeFuture

CCA is doing an amazing job educating audiences about the dangers of piracy… [the] work is helped, I’m sure, by a government that seems to be prioritising this problem and the need for Big Tech accountability in general.

[Australia] was also an early adopter of judicial site-blocking measures aimed at piracy sites (something still not available in the U.S.) and I have relished Australia’s ongoing, and increasingly successful, effort to force tech companies to pay for journalism shared on their platforms, since they benefit immensely from “sharing” it.

These companies should not reap the financial benefits from other people’s content when they don’t acquire a license or guard against piracy, and Australia is a leader in the fight to fix these problems.

Read the full interviews on our Industry Voices page