Digital Content Guide won't fix the piracy problem

DigitalGuide
A conglomerate of video and music rights holders has launched a web site that assembles most (but by no means all) of the legal video and music services available to Australia. There’s a big problem with it, however. Actually, there are several.

The Digital Content Guide is, as per its press release, “is a joint effort by APRA AMCOS, The Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA), The Australian Screen Association (ASA), Copyright Agency Ltd., News Corp Limited, Foxtel and Village Roadshow Limited”, which means that the content on display leans heavily towards the services that they’re particularly invested in. Foxtel, for example, appears in multiple categories, presumably because both News and Foxtel are represented in the stakeholder group.

There’s noting particularly wrong with having a handy resource for legitimate content sources, although it’s by no means a one-stop shop depending on your tastes.

As an example, I checked it for each of the sources that Katie put together in our Anime in Australia: Legal streaming options feature… and they’re not there. If your tastes aren’t mainstream, it seems, you’ll need to look elsewhere. For now, there isn’t even a simple search option on the site.

There’s a interesting but not unexpected play towards people’s fears with other services in the Digital Content Guide’s tagline (“Your guide to finding safe and licensed digital content”). I get the “licensed” bit, though I doubt that many consumers care that deeply. But the “safe” one is an interesting ploy given the usual plays from those established copyright groups towards a more personal guilt trip — “You wouldn’t steal a car” and so on — and one that ignores that there’s little risk in using, say, a VPN and Netflix. Once again, I’m using Netflix as an example here; it’s not quite the eternal pot of gold that some people think it is either. Also undeniably there are illegitimate sources for content that also come with bonus malware for no added cost.

The issue here is that while an index — and that’s really what this is — is no bad thing, I doubt it’s going to have any impact on the local piracy arguments and issues whatsoever. It does nothing to address any pricing iniquities, real or imagined that Australians deal with on a day to day basis. We address some of these details in the latest episode of Vertical Hold

There’s also an excellent piece over at ABC’s The Drum written by Mark Pesce that looks into the actual economics of the anti-piracy arguments, and where they so frequently fall down that you should read.

A slightly fancier EPG that makes content easier to find is no bad thing, although it could clearly use some expanding. It’s only part of the puzzle, however, and in a world where the entertainment industry takes serious advantage of globalisation, there’s little reason why consumers couldn’t and shouldn’t do the same thing. Ignoring that and focusing on shiny web pages won’t change much for the industry power brokers.

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