30 Nov 2017

Piracy on the decline despite Sky TV fears, say internet providers

9:07 am on 30 November 2017

Sky Television is being accused of being out-of-touch after launching legal action to force internet service providers to block pirate websites.

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Photo: 123RF

The pay TV service is seeking a High Court injunction that would force providers to block websites which illegally stream content.

Sky says illegal streaming and piracy is a big threat to entertainment and sporting industries in New Zealand.

But Vocus Communications - one of the providers targeted in the legal proceedings - said that was not the case.

Spokesperson Taryn Hamilton said Sky was missing the point.

"They see piracy as a threat to their business but generally, world-wide piracy is absolutely on the decline primarily because there is an alternative way to access content."

Mr Hamilton said an example in New Zealand was Netflix, which had become a dominant player in the market, and a real threat to Sky's business model, rather than pirates.

Mr Hamilton said the internet should be free and accessible.

InternetNZ chair Jordan Carter said it was not the job of internet providers to block websites, and even if they did people would get around it.

He also said piracy was declining.

Mr Carter said the long-term challenge for Sky was to have content that could compete.

Technology commentator Ben Gracewood said Sky needed to learn from the music industry, which fought the same battle against pirates for years.

"When really what people were asking for was a reasonably priced all-you-can-eat access to music ... people are happy to pay $15 a month for everything they can get, and what Sky is coming up against is people aren't happy to pay $100 a month for broadcast television.

"They want an a la carte Netflix style offering, especially around sport, for a cheaper amount per month."

Mr Gracewood said Sky offered a cheap online sports subscription for a short time, but found it was eating into its traditional customer base.

In a statement Sky TV said many countries around the world had laws blocking pirate websites.

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