If you often find yourself about to pull your hair out in frustration when a certain rage-inducing image appears, blocking you from watching viral content online, the following may be music to your ears.
Yep, that's right, the colossal case of absolute bullshit that you see above may be on its way out.
The Productivity Commission has filed a draft report that recommends that Australians be given permissions to avoid geoblockers that stop them from watching content from abroad. The argument is that preventing people from accessing official videos, such as the US version of Netflix or restricted YouTube content from shows like Saturday Night Live, is really unfair. And I couldn't agree more — considering Netflix recently banished me from watching a whole load of shows via the use of VPN!
The Commission revealed its arguments for a "new, principles-based, fair use exception," saying:
The use of geoblocking technology is pervasive, and frequently results in Australian consumers being offered a lower level of digital service (such as a more limited music or TV streaming catalog) at a higher price than in overseas markets.
Additionally, the Commission said that the government should consider making the use of VPN fully legal so that Australians could access the high-quality content they wanted. The report read:
Studies show Australian consumers systematically pay higher prices for professional software, music, games, and e-books than consumers in comparable overseas markets.
Naturally, this leads to online copyright infringement due to "sheer frustration from poor access." Clearly, the argument is that:
The best antidote to copyright infringement is accessible and competitively-priced online content, not draconian penalties and big brother enforcement.
Rising anger from copyright holders
Naturally, statements like the above never come without some hefty opposition. In particular, the Australian Copyright Council had some tough words to say on the matter. Managing director, Fiona Phillips, put forward her concerns:
“It’s fair to say I’m more than a little concerned. I think there’s some fundamental misunderstandings about the copyright system. There are inconsistencies in the way [the report] treats some forms of intellectual property compared to others.”
However, this was swiftly combated by Karen Chester from the Productivity Commission, who said:
"We’re saying to rights holders, no big brother, no draconian penalties and enforcement (from government), because that’s going to be a huge regulatory burden and it isn’t going to work. We’re saying you lift your game and for the government to make it clear we’re going to let our folk get around geoblocking, otherwise it’s not fair to users.”
The final report will be put forward late this summer.
What's your take on all of this? Should we get rid of geoblocking?