Friday, 25 February 2011 12:25

AFACT fails to see the light on piracy


COMMENT The Australian Federation against Copyright Theft is on the attack again, trying to hose down criticism of figures it released recently about alleged film piracy.

Electronic Frontiers Australia made a detailed rebuttal of the details released by AFACT and the latter is now trying to rebut the rebuttal.

The figures were derived from a study done by IPSOS and Oxford Economics; logically, the best way to counteract the EFA's criticism would be to release the original study.

Then the reading public would be able to see the methodology and logic applied by these institutions in drawing the conclusions that AFACT has disseminated, and make their own judgement.

Strangely, the AFACT does not appear to want to do so. All that they are willing to say in defence of IPSOS and Oxford Economics is that they are highly respected bodies; to quote from the AFACT website: "IPSOS is the 5th largest global media research company with over 5,000 clients worldwide. Oxford Economics, founded in 1981, is one of the world's foremost global forecasting and economic research consultancies."

It is easy to counter this by pointing out that both Enron and Arthur Andersen were also highly respected organisations. Not to mention Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers. One does not wish to treat readers as idiots by detailing the fate that befell these respected organisations - and the reasons why.

In short, the AFACT is saying, "trust us." In this day and age, that is probably not the best way to engage the public. It would be more advisable to show people the source.

But then I guess that one should not be surprised at the type of tactics that the film industry employs. Back in 1984, Sony was sued by Universal City Studies  when it released the VCR - on the grounds that recording TV shows constituted copyright infringement.

It is probably galling to AFACT that it has its nose rubbed in the mud twice by the Australian legal system - which has a reputation for commonsense. And it must be twice as galling to be defeated by a small company like iiNet.

Winning this case appears to have become a matter of ego for AFACT - as iiNet chief executive Michael Malone put it, two years have been wasted, time which could have been spent on devising a means of channelling copyrighted content to the public at a reasonable price and creating a paying business model.

As long as AFACT and its masters in Hollywood want to try bully-boy tactics, forgetting that the days of the Wild West are long over, piracy will continue and grow.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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