Make A Change: Put An End To Online Piracy

Australia is the worst offender when it comes to online piracy whether it is illegally downloading television, film or music. George Brandis, Australia’s Attorney-General stated himself, “Australia, I’m sorry to say, is the worst offender of any country in the world when it comes to piracy, and I’m very concerned that the legitimate rights and interests of rightsholders and content creators are being compromised by that activity” (Brandis as cited in McCarthy, 2014). The concept of piracy is to rob or steal someone else’s property, in this case it is done virtually. In order for change to happen it must first happen on a local level and as it progresses throughout communities change will be inevitable.

In order to manufacture social change it is essential to publicly oppose online piracy. Manuel Castells (2012) put forth the theory of ‘counterpower’ which is “the capacity of social actors to challenge the power embedded in the institutions of society for the purpose of claiming representation for their own values and interests”. Castells’ (2012) theory directly correlates with the ideology of changing what has become the ‘social norm’ in Australia, online piracy. There is a need for counterpower in terms of standing up against the embedded institution of online piracy in Australia. It is unfair to the artists who make a living from their work and they are getting no money for the content they created because it is being stolen and it needs to be changed.

Picture: Maya Kavanagh (2014)

In order to make a change it is a necessity to understand the problem. According to the chart by Maya Kavanagh (2014), convenience is the predominant reason for pirating in Australia. This means there needs to be emphasis on why it isn’t convenient at all. Research by Sphere Analysis has showed that $190 million was lost in regards to the Commonwealth Government’s revenue and over 8,000 jobs were lost (Sphere Analysis, 2010). The issue is only projected to get worse without any change.

Picture: Sphere Analysis (2010)

As figure 4 (Sphere Analysis, 2010) shows, although piracy may seem like the convenient choice, it ultimately isn’t. It is impacting not only on the industry but the community as well. Facts like these can be used to show people varying impacts that online piracy has in order to try and change their actions.

Online piracy is theft. Piracy by its own definition means to rob or steal something and Lori Flesker, who is the executive director of the IP Awareness foundation commented on the enormity of online piracy in Australia, “I hope people don’t consider this like a great sporting achievement and see it for what it is. It’s theft” (Flesker as cited in Reynolds, 2014). Flesker comments are in context of how Australia is the worst offender in regards to online piracy. Online piracy is an epidemic and due to the accessibility and speed of the internet it makes it extremely difficult to police however it is illegal and the trend needs to be changed.

Changing the trend of piracy has been taken to a national level with numerous companies taking action against these brazen acts of theft. Some have been unsuccessful but more importantly some have been successful. The Australian Screen Association (formerly known as Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft) took iiNet to Federal Court in 2008, insisting that they hadn’t taken the appropriate steps to stop copyright infringement on their network (LeMay, 2010). They eventually lost their appeal in 2012 however it laid the platform for other organisations such as Dallas Buyers Club LLC to make a change.

Dallas Buyers Club LLC filed a lawsuit against iiNet with similar claims however pertaining to the film ‘Dallas Buyers Club’. The Federal Court sided with Dallas Buyers Club LLC in a landmark case and ordered iiNet to hand over the IP addresses of anyone using their service provider to share or download the film (Grubb, 2015). This case demonstrates the need for change when it comes to online piracy and this could be seen as the subsequent step needed to further generate change throughout the community. The findings of the court should be viewed as a warning to online piracy and can be the foundation to produce change throughout local communities in reference to online piracy by showing that the consequences will ultimately catch up to anyone illegally downloading content.

Advocacy campaigns are trying to generate momentum against piracy by utilising Castells’ ‘counterpower’ theory. Campaign organisations such as Music Rights Australia and the IP Awareness Foundation are trying to advocate for change in the attitudes of the community towards online piracy. They show how many teens believe piracy to be ‘harmless’ and don’t understand the amount of effort and work is put into what they are stealing (IP Awareness, 2014). These campaigns show how piracy is just as much of an attitude issue as a convenience issue. To change the tendency of online piracy it not only means gaining access to IP addresses but also changing the naivety of the community’s attitude toward online piracy.

Online piracy is an illegal epidemic which is detrimental to the industries that it steals from and for the community through national revenue loss. This is cause for change. A change needs to be made which prevents the illegal consumption of content that is another person’s living. The community needs to adopt the Castells’ (2012) theory of ‘counterpower’ and put an end to, what has seemingly become the normal way of obtaining content, illegal downloading whether it is by supporting the legal system, joining the campaign against piracy or reporting any activity of piracy you may come across. Online piracy needs to be changed from a growing trend to a dying trend.

Reference List

Castells, M. (2012). Networking minds, creating meaning, contesting power. In Networks of outrage and hope: Social movements in the Internet age (pp. 1–19). Cambridge, UK: Polity.

Grubb, B. (7/4/15). Dallas Buyers Club slays iiNet in landmark piracy case. Retrieved from:

IP Awareness. (2014). 2014 Research. Retrieved from:

Kavanagh, M. (2014). Why the Australian government won’t win the war on online piracy and copyright infringement. Retrieved from:

LeMay, R. (4/2/10). Judge: iiNet did not authorise infringement. Retrieved from:


Reynolds, M. (8/4/14). Piracy: Australians lead the world for illegal downloads of Game of Thrones. Retrieved from:

Sphere Analysis. (2010). The Impact of Internet Piracy on the Australian Economy. Retrieved from: