An application of Fair reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) measures to copyright in Australia.

As has been demonstrated time and again Australians face increased cost of accessing copyrighted content and IP compared to the rest of the world. The key drivers of this are many and excuses abound from companies from the increased cost of staff in this country to the cost to ship physical media from other countries. In a digital age where content is not shipped there is no staff in the country and no need for any local presence as the data can be stored anywhere in the world then transmitted over the internet. In a world where none of these excuses hold up anymore we still pay massive mark-ups on content simply because companies wish to drain as much money from consumers as they can. To do this they place artificial walls in the form of geo-blocking to force us to pay more for less and to extract more profit. Not only do they do this they put in place exclusive content deals with monopoly players like Foxtel with deep pocket who will pay anything then pass on this cost to consumers through their pay TV network.

So what is the solution to this well there are many but the best outcome for Australians and Australian companies is a FRAND access to all content. Under this scenario a company could pay a negotiated amount of money to have access to broadcast a program. The key difference to now is that this access is not exclusive another provide could then pay the same to gain access to the program. The benefit to consumers is massive if a station neglects viewers shifting times and playing re-runs a competitor could then swoop in and steal those customers by providing better access to the show or fewer ads or broadcast in HD. This would provide a competitive environment meaning that companies that provide the best service win and grow.

IPTV streaming rights would be separated from broadcast rights no one company would be allowed to hold both rights to broadcast and stream content. This would provide at least 2 companies competing for viewers providing cheaper outcomes for consumers. All content that has been broadcast MUST be available to stream via an IPTV service if a company does not pick up the content the government will host the content and allow access for a standard fee per view which is then passed to the content owner there will be a time limitation of 1 week after broadcast but it is discretionary and could be extended but the content owner for a fee.

The largest benefit from this is that it would almost eliminate piracy in this country I base this on the past history of 2 industries.

  • The gaming industry

o   In the past the gaming industry was rife with copyright infringement in this country where games were expensive and difficult to obtain. Then along came Valve with Steam a repository of games that were reasonable price and easily accessible. Steam has all but killed Piracy in the games industry.

  • The Music Industry

o   Once again many moons ago people pirated music from the internet then along came iTunes and Spotify. Now nobody pirates music anymore as it is reasonable priced and easy to obtain.

So why wont the movie and TV industry follow suit the reason for this is simple exclusivity Steam hosts many games but I can get them from many other sites if Steam puts up its prices or provides poor service I can go elsewhere. The same is true of music Spotify not treating you nice then go to Rdio or iTunes. This is not the case in the world of television however want to watch Game of Thrones and Foxtel are treating you poorly well tough luck. Want to watch a TV show in Full HD in this country nope you can’t not a single broadcaster in this country broadcasts in Full HD let alone offers 4K TV content for a very good reason why should they if there is no competition for viewers. Game of Thrones is shown in compressed 720p because they can due to exclusivity. The only way to watch TV the way it was intended in Australia on release is to Pirate it and that is not good enough.

The NBN is just to download movies faster

I am sick to death of this being used as a reason not to build the NBN the NBN is not about downloading movies faster there are a great many things for which it can and will be used and yes movies is one. The thing is if you are reading an article and they say you can download a movie in 10 seconds compared to 20 minutes or an hour the reason they use a movie as an example is that everyone has downloaded a movie so it is a know metric. 

So using a movie as an example is good because people can relate it to real life experience that is all.

 

/rant 

Why you will be Pirating Game of Thrones next year

As confirmed a short while ago by the Financial Review Foxtel will be restructuring their HBO and other network shows to move them out of reach of providers like iTunes and QuickFlix. That means that once again it will be Foxtel or nothing when it comes to these shows which means the many thousands of people who have paid to watch GoT this season will not be able to watch next season without paying for a Foxtel subscription.

The issue is with the internet these days there is no need for such an anticompetitive model to be in place there is no reason HBO or the BBC could not say well for IPTV every time someone views our content it costs 50c to stream and $2 to download and anyone who wants to set up shop and sell it or stream it can. This anti-competitive model we have in place now does not hurt consumers it hurts HBO if it is not available it is known what will happen people will pirate it an open market would allow competition and increase profits for HBO. 

The anti-competitive behaviour of Foxtel in this circumstance needs to be looked at and with the rise of IPTV and OTT streaming services like Quickflix and fetchTV their needs to be equitable ways for new players to enter the market. We will never be able to have innovation in this country while Monopolies and Duopolies are the norm and anyone who tries to compete gets stomped out of the market. This is a problem that needs to be fixed whether that is with anti siphoning regulation related to IPTV or forcing Foxtel to be Cable only and having IPTV separated. 

If we want Australian companies to be able to compete with the Netflix’s and Hulu’s of this world when they come and they will come we need to be in a position for open competition for IPTV because if we don’t local companies will not have a chance. 

How to fix piracy in Australia

Arrr me hearties we be Pirates!

Ok now we have gotten that out of the way everyone knows the problems that exist here when it comes to TV distribution they are many and varied but they are the cause of the problem so we will have to delve a little bit into what they are.

1. Foxtel in the USA you can get Internet, Cable and phone for $99 with unlimited downloads. Here for $99 you may be able to get an internet connection with 500GB of data and for an extra $99 dollars you can get Foxtel and for another $30 you get a phone connection so just over double the price if you are lucky and maybe 3 to 4 times if you are not. So what do we get extra for the pleasure of paying so much more delayed shows if they are shown at all.

2. Free to air TV is simply a joke they don’t start programs when they should so they run overtime try and record them and you are pretty much screwed or they move them around from time slot to time slot meaning trying to watch is almost impossible.

3. DRM is probably the worst thing to happen to anything ever not only is it terrible it is ineffective and cracked within hours meaning that the people who have to deal with it are your customers. The hard working people who spent $50 odd dollars on your TV series have to sit through lectures on stealing and then if the DRM plays up have to spend hours on the phone trying to sort it out. The people who pirated it have a copy they can watch anywhere anytime without being told they are stealing all so someone can’t give a copy to their friend.

So how do we fix it?

It is actually not hard let people pay to Pirate get together all the studios and have a monthly fee to allow people to download what you like. Allow people to use their own programs or you can provide a program which allows access to trusted torrents and then based on the % of downloads the profits are shared amongst the rights holders. Speak to ISP’s about unlimited uploads to encourage people to have content available at all times at high speed it may even be possible to have content streamed with this model. There could even be scope for a tipping system say you pay ~$40 a month and then if you really like a show you could tip a couple of dollars if you really like it. Or link it into twitter and facebook and allow people to like an episode which provides the link for others to watch it increasing your studios share and maybe garnering more tips.

At the end of the day no one will listen and we will continue to get overpriced TV with poor service.

   

Renter’s to suffer with Liberal NBN Plan

With the announcement of the Liberal Parties NBN plan this week there has been debate on the speed and the technology yet we have forgotten the people. The users of the network will be the ones who suffer if it is inadequate and while it is all well and good to say user pays for fibre to their homes and as a young person looking at buying or building I will make sure that I will get fibre to my home and while I should be lucky enough to be buying in the next year or so what about those who can’t.

At the end of the day not everyone can buy maybe their job requires them to move they can save better if they rent can’t afford it or simply prefer the freedom. Whatever the reason according to the Bureau of statistic about 30% of Australians rent and this number is rising year on year as housing becomes more un-affordable.

So the question that needs to be asked is what effect does the Liberals plan have on these people the biggest problem will be if they need Fibre to the Home they then spend $5000 to get connected and then their lease finishes and the landlord decides not to let them renew so they move again spend $5000 again and so on and so forth. So basically if you rent and require FttH for your work you could be up for $5000 every year.

So if you are renting an need FttH better start saving as you may need to buy a house as well.

Fibre and the cloud in a post PC era

It may be nice to get FttH but then the question is now what do I do as of now not a lot really HD video is nice but what is new about that. Well here is the thing people don’t really get the full potential of cloud computing being able to access files is nice but it still requires a large powerful PC or other device in your home. The real innovation that cloud computing will bring is the question of why do I have this big box that sits idle most of the time or uses a small amount of its potential, is this really necessary?

The answer with FttH is NO all you really need is a box capable of piping a stream of appropriate resolution to you display or your TV and farm off the processing to a computer farm running virtual machines. Not only is this good for the consumer (Reduced electricity bills) but it is good overall, the efficiency of a computer farm would be much better than many stand alone PC’s. Another advantage is at peak times the many users will use all the computing power but in off peak times this excess computing power could be sold to scientific institutions for research purposes as it is essentially a super computer this would reduce barriers to access to supercomputers and allow for breakthroughs in research.

There is no limit to the possibilities of cloud computing in this sense any service could be provided TV, Games and Rendering Software through to Facebook and Word Processing. Ubiquitous access wherever you are to your applications, services and things we can’t even think of yet.

Riding on the back of Fast Ubiquitous broadband for all!

-AJ

Was written on lunch break will edit it properly later or you can comment errors below.

The real cost of FttN for a Coalition Government.

The Coalition have consistently called the National Broadband Network far to expensive and a white elephant while their plan still has no price tag. The biggest problem with the Coalitions plan is that while construction costs may be 1/4 this does not include the cost of the copper last mile Telstra have stated that the cost of buying this will be in the range of $20 Billion [1]. So even at 1/4 the cost of construction we end up with close to $27 Billion for a network that will last less than an equivilant FttH network.

This is not the only economically poor move with FttN the other big problem is that while FttH is the pinnacle of speed for fixed line internet FttN is not. This leaves a government owned FttN network in a tight place you can’t stop people from buying FttH if it is available and if you give your biggest potential competitor $20 Billion what do you think will they do. Well here is an idea they will spend it on FttH in your most profitable areas and overbuild your network. Telstra have done this in the past [2] when HFC was being rolled out Telstra overbuilt Optus simply because they could this caused inflated prices on cable networks due to reduced economies of scale.

Now you may think that this is not a problem but the problem lies in the $27 billion that the Coalition will have to borrow to build their FttN dream. While the current NBN is FttH borrows $37 Billion $10 Billion more the ability to recoup these cost will be greatly hindered in a FttN world. This hindrance could be so large as to derail FttN profits and force the Coalitions NBN on budget causing a massive blowout of the budget deficit.

In my opinion this is not the act of a economically responsible opposition forcing billions of dollars on budget will significantly hinder their ability to provide the surplus that they want to deliver. They will also provide a significantly inferior broadband network at an increased or similar cost to the fibre NBN.

– AJ

[1] $20b feud with Telstra drove NBN’s birth

[2] Telstra’s Overbuild of the Optus HFC Network