Thoughts on Dallas Buyers Club LLC persecution of those caught illegally downloading & sharing

Let me start off by saying that I do not agree with nor do I condone ANY FORM of piracy. Internet/digital piracy is becoming an increasingly larger issue, particularly since it’s so easy to do and Internet data limits are larger than ever.

This morning, my attention was caught by this article, in which the Australian Federal Court ordered several Australian internet service providers to give the identities of users who’d illegally downloaded the movie Dallas Buyers Club to Dallas Buyers Club LLC’s Australian lawyers. They will then threaten legal action.

While I am 100% against piracy, for a variety of reasons, I do not believe that Dallas Buyers Club LLC are making the best choice here. It’s going to be extremely difficult to actually extract any money from these people. See this.

The first step towards beating piracy involves getting on the side of the consumer - not going up against them. There are three steps to beating piracy and firstly they need to be practiced:

1) Making content affordable

2) Making it simple and easy to access media

3) Making all media available everywhere at the same time

The recent addition of services such as Netflix in Australia try to combat piracy, firstly by providing unlimited content at an affordable price & by being simple to use. One area which Netflix and other content streaming services fall down in Australia is their access/rights to content. Often content rights start weeks or months after they do in America and other countries, resulting in a fragmented rollout of digital media. With the advent of the Internet, this shouldn’t be the case, as distribution of digital media is simple and cost-effective.

I feel as though Dallas Buyers Club LLC are putting too much time and effort into a single case. I understand that they want to make examples, but it’s going to be rather difficult to do. Instead I’d recommend directing their influence and wealth towards working on better ways of distributing digital media. As outlined above, making digital content affordable, accessible and timely is the true way to beat piracy.

My other problem with going after those 4700 people who pirated Dallas Buyers Club is that, lets face it, they weren’t going to pay for it anyway. If they weren’t able to get themselves a pirated copy, they wouldn’t have found a way to watch it legally - all interest would’ve been lost. There’s a whole argument to be made here in favour of piracy that those who pirate weren’t going to pay anyway. I’m not saying I agree with that, nor will I comment on my views there. The only comment I will make is that piracy is wrong.

All that to say… Yes, piracy is wrong. But I feel as though Dallas Buyers Club LLC are going about this the wrong way. This time and effort can be better spent into educating people about piracy, and why it’s wrong. I don’t think that a lot of people who pirate realise what they’re doing. Education is key, and by educating people on this matter the message will get further than it ever could by making an “example” of just a few people.  

I look forward to a future in which no one pirates anything. Partly because they realise it’s wrong and partly because no one will feel as though piracy is necessary. Having digital media which is affordable, accessible and timely is something which is very achievable and it’s only a matter of time before content creators and distributors realise this. The ability to do this exists, now it’s just a matter of implementation.