Pirate Bay was taken down during raids in Sweden this week, but the site has already resurfaced. If new laws are imposed in Australia, it may be taken away from us again, this time for good. Although today Communications Minster Malcolm Turnbull warned journalist’s to not report the reforms as an “internet filter”, that is exactly what it is. Turnbull’s plan is for internet providers to block any site that illegal downloads can be obtained, and that downloaders would be formally warned about any online copyright breaches.
Before I go any further, I want you to know that I understand why P2P (Peer-to-peer) is such a bad thing. In fact I used to be totally against it, for ethical reasons and what not. But over the years I will admit to having used websites like The Pirate Bay, as many other Australian’s have. Lately I have been wondering why so many of us do this, and I realised a major reason why. Australia is getting such a raw deal so often, that many are being driven to download due to no better options. There are many examples of this happening.
This year Australia played a major part in Game of Thrones becoming the most illegally-downloaded show in history. It’s no surprise, due to the fact that the popular drama is only available on a paid Foxtel subscription. After the shows penultimate episode of season three in 2013, all anyone was talking about was the “Red Wedding”, leading to a lot of people who hadn’t seen the show, want to be in on the conversations that were happening every week the day after the show had aired. At that time they were able to watch the first three seasons on dvd. Come to April this year, and the show had a massive increase in a fan base, but anyone who didn’t have Foxtel, had only one other way to see the show, and that was online. People couldn’t even pay to watch the show on iTunes, like they had done during the first three seasons, due to Foxtel wanting the show exclusively with them. The move to make more money, only pushed people, who were happy to pay for episodes on iTunes, to illegally download the show.
Foxtel isn’t the only place where viewers are being treated with contempt. Free to air stations love to tell you how many shows they are fast tracking this year. But only some shows isn’t enough. A major part of the problem is that America, where a lot of the television content that Australian’s consume, runs their TV shows from September/October to May of the year after. In Australia, the networks prefer to have a majority of their best content stacked when we start of our TV season, which is in February. Back in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, they could get away with keeping a show to play until Febuary, when it had been playing from September the year before, because nobody knew any better. In this social media age, things have changed, but the practices of TV stations haven’t.
Revenge is a prime example of this. This show is now in its fourth season, and has a decent fan base. But year after year Seven holds onto to it until “after the tennis”. And what do you think has happened. Slowly ratings for the show in Australia has dropped off. Not because people don’t like it anymore, but because they can’t wait five months without potentially seeing a spoiler posted on social media.
Not only do they take forever to show some of my favourite shows, but when they do get around to it, they put it on late at night and are forever changing the time slot, pulling shows whenever they feel like it for something else. Viewers are constantly trying to keep up with networks changing their minds at the last second on the nights line up of shows. Not even EPG’s know whats going on.
So we get it right, television in Australia is a mess, and there is no doubt that it’s a major factor in the large number of downloads. The movie industry is no better. First of all the cost of going to the movies is beyond crazy. Even if you wanted to wait to watch it at home and grab it in the stores, you won’t be doing it cheap. I like to experience movies the best way possible, at the moment that means on Blu-Ray. Even though it’s been reported it cost the same for manufactures to make DVD’s and Blu-Ray’s, every Blu-Ray is around $5 more expensive that DVD’s. If you’re looking to experience the film in 3D in your living room, you will be looking at $50 a film.
Another major problem, just like with TV shows, is movies are still coming to Australian screens months latter. I would really love to know why? When a film in released in the states, it should be shown the next possible Thursday here. Birdman staring Michael Keaton, which already has been getting a lot of Oscar buzz, was released in America mid-October. Australian viewers can pay for an overpriced ticket to see the film on the 15th of January next year. That’s one long wait, if you’re interested in seeing the film. In the mean time you can bet your bottom dollar that there will be a torrent online long before January 15th rolls around. That’s not the only film on delay. Disney’s musical-fantasy with an ensemble cast featuring Meryl Streep and Anna Kendrick will be shown in cinemas Christmas Day in America, which made me think it would be a perfect film to see on Boxing Day, but nope, we don’t get to see it until Jan 8th. Yes, that is a shorter break that Birdman, but why not just release it on Boxing Day, a day where many families are going to the movies.
So while downloading instead of paying for things is bad for the industry, the industry needs to take a look at its self first, before they start pointing the finger.