Forget the word piracy, illicit downloading is theft and we must back new laws to stop it
We are in vulnerable times as we are in an environment governed increasingly by technology romance on the one hand and technology determinism on the other. These views abound around the internet from selfish ill-informed users, to many of the commercial proponents of carriage and search. Too often these groups' notions of so called rights assume a 'licence to steal' and myriad other mangled notions of law and its application.
Regrettably, precious little reasoned response has been in evidence from our national parliament until relatively recently.
The welcome passing of this legislation is a response to obscene levels of online theft which has gone unhindered for way, way too long. It is nothing more or less than a social cancer ripping at the vitals of intellectual property and the creativity at its core.
Digital change processes command our attention and provide the central themes to the experience of what I would term "the new normal" in society today - one which demands reimagined responses.
As is pointed out by numerous contemporary commentators the notion of periods of stability and static movement followed by modest incremental change or bursts of invention have gone. The evidence of this political, business and consumer revolution is everywhere.
We see it in the changing consumption and interaction habits, driven by digital technology, around us. Think of how you graze the world and buy things now compared with your parents. Imagine what will happen with cars, real estate, retail, health, finance or insurance before we even enter into discussions of entertainment, culture, education or politics. Each will, in 15 years' time, have little resemblance with today.
And so the challenge to intellectual property has never been more pronounced and its vulnerability to hostile action from a variety of consumer, commercial and yes, political forces, has never been more acute.
Oddly, part of the challenge in copyright is to get decision makers to ask the right questions, and at the Copyright Agency we would suggest that questions such as "How do you reduce the business costs of great successful enterprises like Google, Apple, Microsoft, Yahoo or Amazon?" is not the right question.
While it is easy for us to feel outrage and to be in many ways justifiably distressed, rights holders carry a responsibility for not having managed the necessary defences persuasively to adapt to the digital world, adopting new methods of delivery with appropriate changes in law, access, behaviour and enforcement so as to ensure sustainable outcomes.
Piracy is a word I detest and believe should be expunged from the copyright vocabulary. It is way too rich with all its imagery associated with political persecution, the Jolly Roger, parrots on shoulders and hook hand devices and phrases like "C'mon me hearties " we should call it out over and over as theft. And, in the unique instance of intellectual property, theft is rarely, if ever, properly punished.
I'm not talking about punishing some parent for putting a video of their child singing a pop song on YouTube. This is about serious theft, such as the well-publicised global downloads of one of the most popular shows in history, Game of Thrones.
Why do the websites facilitating this behaviour get to make money from it but the creators lose money? Why are so many people comfortable justifying their theft and blaming others for their poor behaviour.
Copyright vests in the creator inalienable rights to manage and control their own work – something many of us take for granted but which we know is all too susceptible to bad behaviours and processes in today's increasingly narcissistic world where self-defence on the altar of personal indignant assertion all too often runs riot throughout society.
As the book Copyfight explores so comprehensively, we must ensure that copyright law is constantly refreshed and amended so as to protect the work of our creators, securing the rights to protect, promote and derive revenue from the hard effort that goes into their original work so central to society and its health.