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Australian Government Agency Recommends Using VPNs To Reduce Piracy

Friday, October 21st, 2016

While streaming companies like Netflix have started blocking VPN users, Australia’s Productivity Commission has recently given thumbs up to the use of such services. The government agency recently published a 600 page Intellectual Property Arrangements draft report which covers patent and copyright issues along with a host of other things. While most government reports side with copyright owners, the Productivity Commission’s report takes a pragmatic view of the problems faced by Australian users while accessing international content and recommends the use of geo-blocking services in order to combat piracy.

A lot of Australian content consumers believe that they are unfairly treated by the entertainment service providers. For instance, subscribers from the country not only have to pay a ridiculous high fees while subscribing to services like Netflix, they even have to wait for months before popular shows become available to them. Thus, it is no surprise to see that Australia frequently top the list of countries where piracy is most rampant. Of course, a lot of Australian streaming users also rely on content unlocking services to bypass the GEO-IP blocks imposed by the streaming service providers.

The draft report published by Productivity Commission takes this issue head on and states that Australian users are often offered inferior level of digital services (such as restricted choice of music and TV shows) and that too at prices which are higher than many overseas markets. This statement is backed by several studies which have shown that Australians not only pay higher amount of money for online streaming services but also for music, games, software and even e-books. While some consumers are able to break these geographical barriers via VPN and proxies, a vast majority of Australian consumers are still paying top dollars for services which are clearly subpar.

Endorsing the use of VPNs and unblocker services, the Commission says that the use of such tools would give more choice to the Australian consumers. The Commission also wants the Government to pass the recommendation made by House of Representatives Committee report which states that circumvention of geoblocking technology is not illegal. The Commission even goes a step further and recommends that the Government should not sign any agreement with a foreign country or company which would prevent Australian users from using Geo-Unblocking technology.

On the matter of piracy, the Commission says that the recently introduced anti-piracy legislation had a limited impact in combating piracy. As such, it is better to provide improved access to content rather than focus on efforts to fight piracy. Acknowledging that copyright infringement remains a glaring problem and ongoing issue, the report suggests that such activities decline when consumers get access to better content legally even when they have to pay for it. The Commission also advised Copyright holders to offer their content to the Australians consumers in a timely fashion in order to reduce piracy.

While the report goes surprisingly against the stand taken by most copyright holders and entertainment companies, it does highlight the issues faced by Australian consumers. If the report is cleared in its present form, it would mark a major victory for the Australian consumers.

October 21, 2016

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