It has only been legal to record TV in Australia since late 2006. Of course, for nearly 30 years most of us have had video recorders, then DVD and hard disk recorders that don’t really have any other purpose but to record TV shows.
Video recorders have been freely available to buy the whole time, despite the fact that it was technically illegal to record TV with them (which is what we all did). So in 2006 the law changed to allow “time-shifting”.
What that means is that:
- You can record a program to watch later by yourself or with members of your household
- You can also record the program from the internet, but only if it’s a live broadcast (simultaneous with the TV airing).
That’s it. That’s all you can do legally.
A commenter on an article about Internet TV over on IT wire – which quoted a Cisco study that shows that 59% of Australians watch TV on the Internet now – asked the question, “Is it illegal to download shows that have already aired in Aus?”.
The author of the article Alex Zaharov-Reutt pointed to the thin pickings of legal, downloadable TV content in Australia. Most popular shows are not downloadable, and few of the downloads that are available are even full episodes. So the commenter reasoned, if the show has been aired on free TV, surely I can download it legally?
What you still can’t do legally:
- Record a program and watch it at the same time
- Record a program to watch again and again
- Download a program from the internet after it has aired on free TV
Check out the Australian Copyright Council’s information sheet about recording TV here:
It seems that we have been spoiled by free to air TV for too long. Now that Australians are leaving the TV and spending more time on the internet, we seem to expect that everything is free over there too!
What we forget is that free to air TV is supported by advertising. It’s easy to forget that advertisers pay high prices for TV ads and some of that money buys the copyright to actually broadcast the TV show.
But this model doesn’t work on the internet. The reason it doesn’t work lies in the following comparison:
|Free to Air||Internet TV|
|Time slots||Limited||Unlimited / Whenever you want it|
|Number of shows||Limited by channels and time slots||Infinitely more shows|
|Advertising Revenue||Prime time big $$$||Advertising revenue is very limited|
|Cost of show||Big $$$||Small $$$|
|Quality of show||High quality, what you’d expect for the money||Varies wildly|
|Employs||Producers, Actors, Writers, Directors,
Executives, Production teams
|Small teams, no gravy train|
|Audience||Limited local audience||Potential global audience|
It’s just painful. I can’t bear the thought of paying to watch a TV show. Connecting the thrill of watching The IT Crowd or Desperate Housewives with a dollar departing from my wallet just destroys any pleasure that’s in it for me. Especially when it has been free to watch TV ever since the box was invented.
But the reality is, if we want people to spend their lives creating great TV shows, then someone has to pay them to do it… And if we want content on demand, on the ‘net and downloadable at any time, then we’re going to have to pay for the privilege.
Hmmm. Maybe it’s time to stop watching TV and go for a walk outside instead.