On a recent flight back from Africa, I was delighted to find the flight had the entire latest series of one of my favourite TV shows. I watched 22 episodes end to end and the flight passed painlessly.
The reason I was so excited is that this series had not yet aired in New Zealand. We are close to a year behind the US with it.
When I got back home, I noted that some further infringement notices for alleged file-sharing of copyrighted works had been issued, under the revised S92A of the Copyright Act.
Tech Liberty have pointed out that the notices are seriously deficient, and could well be thrown out if the case gets a third strike and goes to the Copyright Tribunal. The first case to go there will have huge media interest in it.
But that got me thinking about how there would be much less file-sharing of TV shows if New Zealanders could legally view or purchase them at the same time as the rest of the world, or specifically the US.
We hate reading on the internet about what has been happening in a TV series, but unable to view it for ourselves.
The world is now one global market, yet producers still try to segment it by country and region.
I'd happily pay $1/week to get the latest Big Bang Theory delivered to my inbox to view, the day it shows in the US.
Now the Government is currently negotiating a Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement with the US and several other countries. This may result in some great gains in trade access for New Zealand, but has some risks also.
The US is demanding further changes to our intellectual property laws, to benefit their entertainment industry.
Whether or not these form part of any agreement, we will not know until the negotiations are complete.
But this gave me an idea. Why not use the negotiations to make own demands in this arena.
New Zealand should ask for the US to commit to a law change that any copyrighted material released in the US for sale, can also be immediately sold (or re-sold) to New Zealand consumers.
So if a US studio releases an episode on iTunes for 99c the day after it is broadcast in the US, then no more blocking New Zealanders from being able to buy it.
Such a law change would probably do more to reduce infringing file-sharing of TV shows, than any amount of punitive measures.
It would be hugely popular in New Zealand, and would in fact allow US studios to develop a direct market in New Zealand, without needing the middle-men of NZ broadcasters. Or they could possibly do a deal with Sky to on-sell content on their behalf?
Most New Zealanders want to watch their favourite TV shows as soon as they are available.
If they are made legally available in a timely fashion, people will pay to get them early. It is when there is no legal way to acquire such a TV show, that so many people turn to torrents on the internet.
So do you think it would be a good idea for the NZ Government to push for the US to stop US businesses from blocking New Zealanders buying their online content? Would you pay $1/episode for your favourite TV show the day it shows in the US?
David Farrar is a centre-right blogger affiliated to the National Party. His disclosure statement is here.
» Follow NZStuffBlogs on Twitter and get fast updates on all Stuff's blogs.
Post a comment