Yo ho, yo ho, a pirates life for Australia

In an age where information is right at our fingertips, it’s not hard to believe that some people would try to use that to their advantage. According to a 2014 study of online piracy in Australia by Creative Content Australia, pirating film and television content online is increasing, with 29% of adults admitting they actively pirate. In fact, when I was researching these statistics, I attempted to find some from 2016, and I was met with this:

Screen Shot 2016-09-07 at 12.52.42 PM.png
Screen Shot 2016-09-07 at 12.52.42PM by Ben Quigley (CC BY 2.0)

Just trying to find the most recent statistics on the piracy rates in Australia gave me a link to stories on how to pirate in Australia. At this point it seems endemic to our society that we as a nation have not yet outgrown our criminal roots.

The internet seems to move at such a breakneck pace that often legislation is created in a reactionary way. In terms of piracy, it seems like the go to weapon against illegal online sharing is website takedowns. Unfortunately, it’s not as exciting or as cool as a professional wrestling takedown (but man, how cool would it be to watch Napster fight it out with Metallica in a cage match?). Essentially, a takedown involves blocking access to a website that according to legislation is providing content that breaches copyright law. This might seem like a logical way to tackle piracy, but it could also be breeding a stronger class of pirates.

In the case of copyright infringement, technical protection measures stop users with limited computer skills, but push the technically savvy user to find a work-around. As a result the illegality is driven further underground, making it even more difficult to detect and deter. (Meyer & Van Audenhove, 2012, p.367)

It’s been reported that Warner Bros. has come into some strife when trying to combat piracy of their intellectual property. In an effort to stop websites sharing their movies illegally, Warner Bros. has enlisted the help of  anti-piracy firm Vobile. Unfortunately for them, anti-piracy flagging software isn’t as advanced as they first thought, leading to Warner Bros. having some of their own websites flagged as sites that promote piracy. Apparently they thought that piracy was a Johnny Depp thing.
Copyright holders will often use these anti-piracy software to determine whether or not someone has shared their content illegally. In layman’s terms, the software traces the IP address of whomever has downloaded the potentially illegal content, which means that because these programs have access to your IP address, they can also access your physical address, name, age and other personal information without your consent.

Government efforts to halt online copyright infringement through regulation are misdirected. It places crosshairs on the end user’s downloading as opposed to taking a step back and trying to understand why users resort to downloading. (Barkachi, 2014 p.24)

I spoke to a good friend of mine about this topic, wanting to get their thoughts on the matter of piracy in Australia.

So, here’s the question that I want to ask. Is this method of fighting piracy creating stronger pirates?

Pirates! by neepster (CC BY-SA 2.0)


Barkachi, P 2014, ‘Copywright in the Internet Age’, Policy, Vol. 30 Issue 3, p21-26, retrieved 5 September 2016, Centre for Independent Studies, EBCSOhost.

Meyer, T & Van Audenhove, L 2012, Surveillence and Regulating Code: An Analysis of Graduated Response in France, Surveillance & Society, Vol. 9 Issue 4, p365-377, retrieved 5 September 2016, SocINDEX.


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