Music industry says NBN will increase piracy – what bulls**t

By on

Piracy - some people love it, some hate it

Image: Tobias Vemmenby/Flickr (Creative Commons)

The music industry has claimed, in the IFPI’s Digital Music Report 2013, that the National Broadband Network will increase piracy to “disastrous” levels by 2015 if the government and ISPs don’t do more action to curb piracy levels.

“The digital revolution currently underpinning the healthy resurgence of the local industry shows no sign of abating with the continued roll-out of the Federal Government’s National Broadband Network (NBN) in 2013 with 90% of Australia’s population set to have access to high quality broadband internet within the next two years,” the report notes.

“However local rights organisations, including ARIA are concerned that whilst the new NBN opens up endless possibilities for local content industries, if more action isn’t taken by the Government and ISPs to curb piracy levels, the NBN could have disastrous results for the local industry.”

Talking to Fairfax, CEO of the Australian Recording Industry Association Dan Rosen, said that all Australian content industries, including music, will suffer if there isn’t more done to curb piracy.

However, here’s the thing – the entire report’s claim that the NBN will increase piracy is bullshit.

Faster speeds mean faster downloads, yes; but not all downloads through the NBN will be pirated material. It might actually be legal.

You know what will stop piracy? Making your content available on all platforms. Look at Spotify – it’s doing an absolutely brilliant job in combating piracy. In Sweden, data from the Swedish Music Industry back in 2011 noted that it has reduced the number of people who pirate music by 25 percent.

So, why did most switch? Well, 40% of those who switched said that the range of music that is being released as the primary reason. And that’s a good start – services like Spotify and Pandora give you a range of music to listen to; whereas piracy involves you knowing the band before you download. Other reasons include it being cheaper and simpler.

The NBN provides a brilliant opportunity for companies to actually provide a better digital offering than what they currently offer. For example: it makes more possible to download (i.e. iTunes), or even stream (like Hulu) a TV show or movie without the excruciating long wait or annoying buffering – and in high quality.

People will go for legal services – all you need is to have the content.

Heck, even people are willing to pay.

The very same IFPI report notes that subscription revenues up 59 percent just on the first half of 2012. Spotify managed to convert 20 percent of its active user base into paid subscribers; while others are partnering with ISPs to be bundled with their service – like MOG with Telstra. That has the added benefit of being ‘unmetered’ – on both broadband and mobile – making it more attractive for those on that particular network.

However, there is a catch. You need to make sure the price is attractive to the consumer. Don’t forget, many households are still reeling from the effects of the Global Financial Crisis. Everyone has less money to spend.

I agree, copyright must be protected. However, having the government stifle innovation and adopting measures (draconian or not) designed to cut off a suspected pirate without due process is not the way to protect it. Because it does not address the fundamental problem – and that is legal access to content they want to see and hear.

Join the Conversation