Saturday, May 04, 2013


Now, before you 'geek out' on me, this is not a new spin-off of the HBO hit TV show, 'Game of Thrones'.

For the record, I think pirates would win. Muskets versus swords, you see.

But no, this is about Australia's latest great achievement. We're number 1!!

Unfortunately we are the number one, per capita, pirates of 'Game of Thrones'.

On pure volume of downloads, regardless of population size, we are still number three on the list, after the USA and United Kingdom.

We have always been known for overachieving, I guess.

Our achievement has not gone unnoticed. This week, the American Ambassador to Australia released a statement pleading with Australians to stop pirating the show.

He even suggested that Australia's traditional excuse for piracy, release delays, no longer holds water.

"While some people here used to claim that they used pirate sites only because of a delay in getting new episodes here, the show is now available from legitimate sources within hours of its broadcast in the United States," the Ambassador stated.

Now, to be clear, I'm a filmmaker and I DO NOT support piracy. I believe it is stealing, and will cripple our industry if it continues unabated.

On this issue, however, I must say I can understand why Australians pirate 'Game of Thrones'.

Hypocritical? Maybe.

But no more than suggesting that Australians have had easy, legal access to 'Game of Thrones' in the past.

The American Ambassador actually used a half-truth.

It's true, there is a new content deal between HBO (the makers of 'Game of Thrones') and Australia's online video streaming site Quickflix. People who want to access 'Game of Thrones' in Australia can now do so legally and easily via Quickflix.

How is that a half-truth?

The HBO-Quickflix deal is only two weeks old.

For Australians, their only option to watch new episodes of 'Game of Thrones' instantly has been through a, quite expensive, Foxtel cable television subscription.

And not only is the Foxtel subscription expensive, but you also need to have a traditional television set-up to receive it.

So, for our hypothetical person who only wanted 'Game of Thrones', they now end up paying for an entire package of TV channels they didn't want.

And even then, with that added complication and expense, it is still screened on Foxtel three hours after the United States broadcast.

Is this a reasonable option?

Do Australians really have "no excuse" for pirating new episodes of 'Game of Thrones' prior to the Quickflix deal?

As much as it pains me, I don't agree.

In reality, the Ambassador's statement is misdirection.

The Foxtel option is complicated (have you ever tried getting cable or satellite TV connected?) and overpriced, while the ink on the Quickflix deal is only just drying. A reasonable person wouldn't suggest that this history left Australians with "no excuse".

And, come to think of it, why are these legal and convenient options to access 'Game of Thrones' only just being established?

Could it be that they were trying to prop up the extremely lucrative sales of DVD's in Australia at the expense of Australian fans of the show?

No, of course not, that would be silly.

But still, it was misdirection. Blaming the pirates distracts from the real issue: that the industry is not making the content people want easily and legally available.

I hate piracy, I truly do, but the industry is not doing enough to cleverly stomp it out.

We need an approach that incorporates extreme convenience for audiences to access and pay for their content, as well as prosecution of pirates.

And we need it soon, before it's too late to convert people back from piracy.

The pirates are strong. They have muskets.

We need to be smarter instead.

- - - - - - - - -