Australian Anti-Piracy Campaign Won’t Target Hardcore Pirates

The body responsible for deterring Australians from engaging in Internet piracy has rebranded with a some new blood at the top. The IP Awareness Foundation is now known as Creative Content Australia and has recruited Village Roadshow co-chief Graham Burke as Chairman. A new anti-piracy push is reportedly on the horizon, but hardcore pirates won't be targets.

ausThe IP Awareness Foundation (IPAF) is one of Australia’s key anti-piracy groups and has some serious heavyweight backing. Supporters include the Motion Picture Association, which counts all of the major Hollywood studios as members. That alone is enough to shape anti-piracy policy Down Under.

IPAF has produced a number of reports over the years, most recently one which concluded that piracy is actually decreasing in Australia.

But while progress is certainly being made, IPAF is already planning the next stages of its campaign and that begins today with a rebranding exercise and the placement of new management figures.

“The IP Awareness Foundation, the film and television industries’ peak body for the
promotion of copyright, creative rights, piracy research and education resources, has rebranded as ‘Creative Content Australia’,” the group announced.

In addition to adopting a softer and more consumer-friendly name, Creative Content has also made three new appointments, each of them heavyweights in their own field.

First up is Graham Burke, Co-Executive Chairman and Co-Chief Executive Officer of movie outfit Village Roadshow. Burke, who is perhaps the most outspoken individual in Australia on the issue of Internet piracy, will take on the position of Chairman.

Also jumping on board are Damian Keogh, CEO of Hoyts Group, a cinema giant operating 400 screens across Australia plus DVD and Blu-ray rental machines in 650 locations. He will be joined by Jo Bladen from Walt Disney Studios.

“The aim of our organization has always been to contribute to a more informed debate about legal access to film and television content,” says Creative Content Australia’s Executive Director Lori Flekser.

“Graham, Damian and Jo, along with our existing board members, are passionate about promoting the value of copyright. They are invaluable advocates of Creative Content Australia’s research, educational resources and consumer awareness campaigns. While we are starting to see a change in attitude towards piracy, there is still much work to be done.”

The adoption of the word ‘creative’ mirrors similar initiatives in both the United States and United Kingdom, where aggressive anti-piracy rhetoric targeting the consumer is slowly being replaced by softer tones which place more emphasis on supporting artists and other creators.

Incoming Chair Graham Burke says that changing the way the industry offers content will help that process to develop.

“[Our] research finds that Australians say they are now much more aware that the industry is increasingly making more movies and TV shows available in a timely and affordable way, and I’m looking forward to seeing Creative Content Australia produce new consumer campaigns to highlight the benefits of accessing content legally, as opposed to the great damage caused to our creative industry by piracy,” Burke says.

But despite the softer tones, it might prove difficult for Burke to completely abandon his previously aggressive stance. He has a core belief that pirates need to be held accountable and that pirating individuals are responsible for fueling crime. Indeed, comments to Forbes suggest that he still holds that belief, but that education rather than punishment might be the way forward.

“Some people have not considered that piracy is just plain wrong but when they understand it is not a victimless crime and other people will lose their jobs, they stop,” he said.

“Additionally these people are not aware they are part of a criminal underbelly with sites that carry advertising for gambling with no age limit, party drugs, hard core pornography and prostitution, as well as exposing themselves to nasty viruses.”

It seems the campaign to begin educating the masses could start as early as this summer but interestingly (and in common with campaigns in the US and UK) not much time will be spent on hardcore pirates.

“We are working out who to target: vulnerable people who are dipping in and out of piracy, those who are on the edge, or people who can’t resist the urge to get something for nothing,” says Creative Content Australia executive director Lori Flekser.

“We won’t target persistent pirates because only punishment or the threat of punishment will rein them in. This will be our most far reaching campaign. Graham has garnered enormous industry support to ensure the campaign plays out on the widest possible level.”

Only time will tell how the campaign will shape up but one thing is guaranteed. The entertainment industries – movies companies in particular – need to step up their game. The belief among Australians that they are being treated as second-class consumers on the world stage has not gone away and cracking down on their Netflix habits won’t help that perception.

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