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Turnbull to Big Content: Let your movies RUN FREE ... for a fair price

Piracy is theft, says Comms Minister, but content should be universally available

Malcolm Turnbull

Australia's communications minister has scolded Big Content for not making more efforts to make digital content easy to access.

Turnbull last night delivered a speech to mark the release of the federal government's consultation paper on online piracy. In those remarks and an interview with ABC Radio he made more or less the same points: torrenting copyrighted material “is simply theft”.

But Turnbull also used two lines of argument that will hearten many.

The first was to suggest that it is not reasonable to expect that internet service providers (ISPs) police the action of their subscribers. The minister expressed some admiration for New Zealand's regime whereby ISPs send three warnings to customers, “ then it's up to the rights holder then, if they want to, to take the customer to court and seek to recover some damages.

That's rather less onerous than some of the proposals to force ISPs to block domains contained in the consultation paper.

Turnbull's also argued that Big Content has to get its act together, saying he believes “there is an obligation on the content owners, if their concerns are to be taken seriously … to play their part which is to make their content available universally and affordably”.

“The best thing you can do,” he continued, citing the music industry as an example he admires, “is to make your content available globally, universally and affordably.”

“In other words, you just keep on reducing and reducing and reducing the incentive for people to do the wrong thing.”

Turnbull's views may not be decisive: the consultation is being run jointly by the department he oversees and Attorney-General George Brandis, who's rhetoric on the subject has been less nuanced. ®

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