Battle Against Pirated Content is Improving, Says WMI Exec
[Via Satellite 05-13-2016] Australia is likely to see a real breakthrough in the fight against pirated content by year’s end, according to World Media International (WMI) Managing Director Tony Ishak. Exacerbated by the Internet-based nonlinear content distribution such as Over-the-Top (OTT), piracy is a major concern to broadcasters and pay-TV providers. WMI has been working with industry and government over the past two years to introduce a set of copyright infringement laws over the Internet, known as 115A. Ishak said large amounts of pirated content, especially in Australia, amount to a silent threat that has become one of the company’s primary focus points in recent years.
“There are two actions currently in the court in which the 115A laws will be used. The outcomes will allow for a process on how to best use these laws, which in my opinion are the best in the world to tackle Internet piracy. I expect that by the end of this calendar year there will be a substantial fence built around Australia to stop content piracy,” he said.
WMI launched a Direct-to-Home (DTH) service called Mysat in 2004 that provides content catered for the three largest foreign language-speaking groups in Australia: Arabic, Greek and Italian. On average more than 320,000 people watch one or more WMI programs a night. Ishak said satellite is the mainstay for WMI’s content distribution services to end users, but that stolen and illegal content threaten the media business.
“Our focus is on cleaning up the leakage that currently plagues the entire pay-TV ecosystem. This will take a lot of coordinated effort with all the players in Australia. Once the fence is built, then platforms can reclaim lost ground and then start concentrating on new initiatives and capabilities moving forward,” he said.
Ishak said the battle has shifted away from illegal downloads toward streaming service. He cites “card-sharing,” or credential sharing among viewers, as more significant than both of those, however.
“Card-sharing over satellite is largest threat to any satellite business in Australia,” he explained. “This form of piracy was inherited by Foxtel when it purchased Austar, and to date there is no clear strategy in how this should be dealt with once and for all. It is a heavy burden for all the pay media industry in Australia as it requires a collective effort for all parties to work together.
Content owners have to walk a fine line between enabling swift and easy legal distribution of their properties versus enabling easy acquisition and dissemination of those signals illegally, according to Brendan Murray, market analyst at Avascent.
Murray told Via Satellite that pay-TV operators have long relied on Digital Rights Management (DRM) and Conditional Access systems, but said it is not practical to rely exclusively on a technical solution to securing this content. He said similarly that industry realizes it will require collaboration and teamwork to address piracy and content theft.
“Whether it be formalized groups such as the Middle East and North Africa’s (MENA’s) Broadcast Satellite Anti-Piracy Coalition, or specific tactical pairings (America’s Dish TV and TVB with China’s CCTV suing h.TV and their retransmission service), all players in the value chain — broadcasters, pay-TV service providers, satellite operators, teleports, government agencies — recognize the need to band together to identify, remove, and prosecute those who pirate material,” he said.
Murray noted progress on the policy front, mentioning Australia’s recently approved new anti-piracy legislation with the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill of 2015 which gives content owners the right to have Australia’s Federal Court block foreign websites sites that enable illegal distribution pirated material. He said also that a 2015 survey from by Australia’s IP Awareness Foundation found that online piracy has been reduced, at least in part, by the increased availability inexpensive and legal alternatives.
For WMI, combating piracy will continue to be a major focus point. Ishak said that though the company is not seeking to acquire new satellite capacity at this point in time, future decisions will be directly influenced by efforts to curtail access to stolen content today.
“I don’t expect that there is a requirement for more capacity, however, in saying that it depends on what happens in the marketplace with other platforms legal or otherwise and whether they are still operating in 12 months time,” he said.