Choice encourages bypassing geo-blocks, Quickflix hits back

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CNET Editor

Seamus Byrne is the Editor of CNET Australia. At other times he'll be found messing with apps, watching TV, building LEGO, and rolling dice. Usually at the same time.

Consumer lobby group Choice is encouraging Australians to avoid geo-blocks, but Quickflix has hit back at the basis for its arguments.

(Credit: Quickflix)

As reported by CNET's sister site ZDNet, earlier this week, Choice compared US streaming service Netflix with Australia's Foxtel and Quickflix, arguing that Australians are being ripped off. As part of its comparison, Choice went as far as to explicitly encourage Australians to circumvent geo-blocks to pay for access to overseas services.

ZDNet spoke with IT lawyer Matt Phipps, who suggested that while such streaming would not be in violation of Australian copyright law, it could be considered a crime in the US. A service could also opt to sue for breach of contract.

Quickflix hit back at Choice in a press release, arguing that it had been highly selective in its programming comparisons.

In its press statement, Quickflix took issue with Choice's description of Quickflix's service as "DVD mail-out, one at a time", and its apples-to-oranges comparison of streaming-only packages to streaming plus DVD mail-out services.

On one particularly obvious sore point, Choice used Netflix-exclusive series House of Cards and Arrested Development to show that Australian streaming options are lacking choice.

"Quickflix features award-winning HBO shows like Game of Thrones, True Blood, The Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire that are not available to Netflix," said the statement. "Had the article focused on these titles, then the opposite would be true."

The key point of contention, of course, is geo-blocking and its avoidance.

"Geo-blocking is required by the studios and TV distributors who license their content on a country-by-country basis," said Quickflix in its statement.

There is no question that international content owners feel like they continue to make far more money through country-by-country licensing than by opening up the borders to direct consumer access. But the big question must remain on how long that can last in a digital world where such borders seem more and more arbitrary.

Whether it is consumers driving studios to a tipping point where piracy wins over borders, or Quickflix building its agreements to a point where it gives local users everything they want, or Netflix launching its service internationally (with full access to its entire library), something must give at some stage in the coming years.

But with Foxtel landing new exclusive agreements with the BBC and HBO in 2014, it seems that things might still just get worse before they get better.

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This is all B.S. This is pushed by the industry against the origins of Copyright for financial gain - aka Financial extortion. Geo-blocking is used as a technological measure for force region restrictions / control in order to maximise profit, by drip-feeding the market, when they see fit. This goes against the origins of copyright for over 300 years, as listed below:-


This applies to Music / Movies

Excerpt "There is one group of people not shocked by the record industry's policy of suing randomly chosen file sharers: historians of copyright. They already know what everyone else is slowly finding out: that copyright was never primarily about paying artists for their work, and that far from being designed to support creators, copyright was designed by and for distributors — that is, publishers, which today includes record companies. But now that the Internet has given us a world without distribution costs, it no longer makes any sense to restrict sharing in order to pay for centralized distribution. Abandoning copyright is now not only possible, but desirable.

Both artists and audiences would benefit, financially and aesthetically. In place of corporate gatekeepers determining what can and can't be distributed, a much finer-grained filtering process would allow works to spread based on their merit alone. We would see a return to an older and richer cosmology of creativity, one in which copying and borrowing openly from others' works is simply a normal part of the creative process, a way of acknowledging one's sources and of improving on what has come before. And the old canard that artists need copyright to earn a living would be revealed as the pretense it has always been. None of this will happen, however, if the industry has its way. For three centuries, the publishing industry has been working very hard to obscure copyright's true origins, and to promote the myth that it was invented by writers and artists. Even today, they continue to campaign for ever stronger laws against sharing, for international treaties that compel all nations to conform to the copyright policies of the strictest, and most of all to make sure the public never asks exactly who this system is meant to help."

Excerpt 2 "To read the true history of copyright is to understand just how completely this reaction plays into the industry's hands. The record companies don't really care whether they win or lose these lawsuits. In the long run, they don't even expect to eliminate file sharing. What they're fighting for is much bigger. They're fighting to maintain a state of mind, an attitude toward creative work that says someone ought to own products of the mind, and control who can copy them.

And by positioning the issue as a contest between the Beleaguered Artist, who supposedly needs copyright to pay the rent, and The Unthinking Masses, who would rather copy a song or a story off the Internet than pay a fair price, the industry has been astonishingly successful. They have managed to substitute the loaded terms "piracy" and "theft" for the more accurate "copying" — as if there were no difference between stealing your bicycle (now you have no bicycle) and copying your song (now we both have it). Most importantly, industry propaganda has made it a commonplace belief that copyright is how most creators earn a living — that without copyright, the engines of intellectual production would grind to a halt, and artists would have neither means nor motivation to produce new works.

Excerpt 3 "Yet a close look at history shows that copyright has never been a major factor in allowing creativity to flourish. Copyright is an outgrowth of the privatization of government censorship in sixteenth-century England. There was no uprising of authors suddenly demanding the right to prevent other people from copying their works; far from viewing copying as theft, authors generally regarded it as flattery. The bulk of creative work has always depended, then and now, on a diversity of funding sources: commissions, teaching jobs, grants or stipends, patronage, etc. The introduction of copyright did not change this situation. What it did was allow a particular business model — mass pressings with centralized distribution — to make a few lucky works available to a wider audience, at considerable profit to the distributors."

As you can see this whole system is rigged to rip off everyone. Copyright was never designed to be controlled in this manner. They are terrified of losing distribution control / rights, and hence why the hate BitTorrent and The Pirate Bay. However, I will not be told when / where I can watch what I want, and where I want. I will decided, and I will bypass restrictions, no matter what.

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