The average person consumes approximately 15 hours of media each day. We are consumed by it; it is how we receive news, communicate, and are entertained, as well as many other things. But what if there was someone controlling what we see, and when we see it? This is known as media regulation and it is causing quite a stir.
Media regulation is defined, as is the control of mass media by governments and other bodies. It serves as a modern debate topic for the entire world, as it affects the majority of us. Strengths and weaknesses of media regulation can be argued, however it is very difficult to determine who is right.
Like many others I am a Game of Thrones fan, however I only joined the phenomena last year. I caught up on the first three seasons very quickly as a friend of mine had bought the box sets. I was extremely disappointed when I found out that she didn’t have the fourth season, as I wasn’t being released on DVD for another several months. I definitely couldn’t wait that long, so I asked around and eventually got my hands on a copy *cough* “off a…umm…friend?” *cough*. The same friend that lent me the DVDs has never watched an episode that has been downloaded online. I would like to say that it’s because she’s against the illegal act and likes to stick by the law, but truthfully she doesn’t know where to find the episodes and feels that working with a disc is a lot easier. So even though she’s been a fan a lot longer than me, I’m up to date before her; this doesn’t really seem fair.
When you live in Australia, you’re not only far away from the rest of the world but you’re behind in a lot of media. If you have pay TV you will eventually get the latest episode of Game of Thrones, nonetheless after the US. For those who only have access to free to air TV, there is no way to watch the series until it is released on DVD, usually 6 months after the TV finale. Media analyst Steve Allen believes that piracy in Australia is likely to continue as 25 to 27 per cent, (2014). With Australia holding the highest capita of downloading the season 3 Game of Thrones finale, ahead of the US and UK, it is no wonder Australia has taken the lead in online piracy.
Australia has just recently been the latest receivers of Netflix. The American based company is an online data base of films and television series. Users pay a monthly fee of $9.99 for unlimited access via internet connection. Netflix has been in America for almost 20 years so it is not surprising Australia’s Netflix content pales in comparison. While we have access to hit shows such as Orange Is the New Black and House of Cards, Game of Thrones is not on the list.
According to a study by the Australian Federal Against Copyright Theft, online piracy costs the Australian economy $1.37 billion in lost revenue in a year (Freri, 2011). In an attempt to control and fight online piracy, the Australian Government has recently put forward a discussion paper for public comments on the proposal of legislation, forcing Internet providers to block downloading website. According to the Governments plan, “Pirate downloaders could receive warning letters followed later by access restrictions or fines” (2014). While this policy is generally opposed by Internet service providers and consumers groups, copyright holders would have the right to force ISPSs to block downloading sites under court order (Taylor, 2014).
While the Government is definitely trying, these are only plans and ideas. The problem is only getting bigger and more out of control; there seems no immediate solution. While I can see why online piracy is damaging and problematic, it feels as though we are left with no other choice, other than to remain constantly behind. An option many are not okay with. So as long as Australia remains at the back of the line, it seems we will continue to do (almost) anything to jump ahead.
NOTE: While the comic below takes place in the US it represents the struggle of Game of Thrones fane very well.
Freri, Marina 2011, ‘Piracy costs Australia $1.37 billion a year, claims AFACT’, Delimiter, viewed 13 May 2015, <http://delimiter.com.au/2011/02/17/piracy-costs-australia-1-37-billion-a-year-claims-afact/>.
Reynolds, Megan 2014, ‘Piracy: Australians lead the world for illegal downloads of Game of Thrones’, Mumbrella, viewed 13 May 2015, <http://mumbrella.com.au/australia-leads-way-illegal-downloads-game-thrones-219249>.
Shingles, Marlon 2013, ‘Internet Piracy: Why Australia Leads the Pack’, The Artifice, viewed 13 May 2015, <http://the-artifice.com/internet-piracy-australia/>.
Taylor, Rob 2014, ‘Australia Steps Up Fight Against Online Piracy’, The Wall Street Journal, viewed 13 May 2015, <http://online.wsj.com/articles/australia-steps-up-fight-against-online-piracy-1406800646>.