Memo To Kim Williams: No-One Needs To Pay For BitTorrent Software

News Limited CEO Kim Williams gave a speech to the Australian International Movie Convention this week discussing the rising prevalence of piracy online. I've got a lot of sympathy for the argument that blithely downloading content through BitTorrent is a hugely damaging activity for content creators, but there's a crucial element of Williams' speech that's deeply deceptive and fundamentally ignorant.

Picture by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images Williams' speech is reproduced in full over at Mumbrella, and it's an interesting read. He's pushing the barrow of saying ISPs should be responsible for what their users do, which hasn't got much legal traction in Australia yet. Williams (who used to head up FOXTEL) doesn't address the issue of shows appearing in Australia months after they come out overseas, which remains a challenge even when legal services are available. But there's one claim he makes about the ease of accessing pirated content which is simply wrong. Here it is:

There’s all the illegal downloading software you have to buy—and the fact that the only way to buy it is by giving your credit card details to someone called Ivan who lives in a quaint little village on the Russian steppe. Or to a criminal with a fake name living in New Zealand. And the cost of the new hard drive you’re going to need if the Russians crash your computer… and you lose all your family photographs and movies, including that footage of your youngest child’s very first steps that you forgot to copy to disk.

I don't doubt that you can find sites online that will sell you BitTorrent software. But I don't need to tell Lifehacker readers that there are free and open source alternatives that do a much better job, including uTorrent (on both Windows and Mac) and Deluge. Furthermore, there's no direct connection between accessing pirate content and losing data from your hard drive. No matter what you do with your computer, you should have an ongoing backup plan.

Doubtless Williams is hoping his comments will scare a few people away from downloading. But his frustration over the mismatch between copyright laws and current practices isn't really an excuse for inaccurate fear-mongering.

Scumbag theft [Mumbrella]


    Does the idea of *buying* software to *pirate* other software strike anybody else as, well, slightly inconsistent?

      Lol this was my thoughts when I was in Thailand last week. So many people selling pirate DVDs. It's also why I think Use net is crazy - paying to get something free. I understand why people use it, but I still find the concept odd.

    Same kind of scare-mongering happens within the government health agencies of the world. It's shameful and should be, in my opinion, illegal.. or at the very least have some kind of accountability behind it when such broad sweeping statements, which are clearly not based on evidence or any factual data, are made. The problem is that once these utterances have been made, they are spread around by the media, and the damage is done. Even if those statements were revoked and withdrawn, the damage is already done.. and they know this and it's why they use these, often, outright lies to scare people into submission.

    it strikes me as particularily odd, since most of the material i "pirate", i didn't pay to access, and it still hasn't been shown on australian TV yet. The US , Canadian & British TV show content i do pirate, just isn't available on foxtel or local broadcasters, and while it might arrive via russia, i don't pay for it,

    and i don't lose a lot of baby photos on hard drives crashed with the spurious might of master russian hackers and/or terrible programmers of paid piracy apps.

    still, i like the way Mr Williams has framed this.
    i'd like to have a go as well ...

    the content i do pay to download and pirate illegally, is "redistributed" on foxtel, a network run by pornographers and smut merchants, conniving to swindle money from pensioners and families, paying for television that's available for free. i believe millions of people are forced to pay $100+ every month , under duress, having being forced to give their bank account details to conmen and nefarious hackers who reside in North Ryde, NSW, Australia, under the assumed name of a corporation whose owners could not be found to question about these heinous allegations of theft and indecency.

    These Alleged fraudsters say the difference is they have a license to broadcast the content, which i've heard before, can you really trust someone who thinks Russians will crash your hard drive , with your bank account details., or the safety of your family ? think of the children, those poor, poor, poorer by ~$100/month children.

    lol, this guy has no idea. Running torrent software full-time will lower the life expectancy of your drives though... much like any application that constantly reads from different sectors

      I've had an old 500GB drive as a download folder for about 3 years now and before that it was my OS drive for about 3 years as well and hasnt missed a beat, i think I can risk it

    This guy is, simply put, a moron. SWIM is downloading 600 GB a month here and is on an Australian ISP plan through Internode (includes free access to Usenet by the way). Kim Williams, I'll send you a postcard and some TV show series which we get earlier here off the Internet! You should try it as it works awesome! ROFLMAO!

    I doubt it's actually deliberate scare mongering... look at the guy, he's old probably doesn't know how to use a computer. I'm a sys admin and have been for years, met many a senior manager who gets their PA to send emails for them :)

      That is hilarious!

    Well, really, why not give it a go? When Tony Abbott can gain credence by doing nothing other than this., there is every reason why you might try it on. Four legs good, two legs better! The assumption these people - and their 'advisors' make - is that you can not fool some people all of the time, but that you can fool most people all of the time.

    Don't knock the oldies, my grandmother is 80 and she taught herself to use computer, even fixes it when errors show. I read that Tony Windsor can't use a computer tho'.

    Wait, you can download movies on this internet thing? And it's FREE? Thanks Kim! I'm going to get started straight away, I just have to check Google News first to setup a block on ALL News Corp sources because one should never be exposed to this kind of drivel (haha just jokin', it's already setup).

    If Kim Schmitz renamed himself to Kim Dotcom, maybe Kim Williams needs to rename himself Kim CD-ROM?

      Well, it's not ALL free; you have to buy the download software first ;-)

    Has this guy any idea how much of what is available online is simply not for sale anywhere? Forget all the shows delayed from overseas, there are much more which are never shown. Or looking in the other direction, almost nothing from Australia is for sale elsewhere.

    Preaching to the choir, wasn't he?

    Old Kimmy needs to check out artists like Gramatik ( who have actually embraced digital freedom!
    Sorry mate, it's not the artists who are losing out... just the evil bastards like Foxtel and News Limited!

    while you were swiming around in your money like scrouge McDuck the internet happend. you should probably find out what it is and how it works because its important. now we can get media content from lots of places, most of those places are not you. we can even get content from overseas. unfortunatly some people steal their content, but im sure your newspapers get nicked every now and then too

    regards the world

    Has anyone who knows how this really works gone on the air to pull it apart, or are we relying on tech savvy people to do it from there own personal eco-systems? Someone in the tech reporting industry, preferably somebody with a bit of tech savvy 'ANGUS' needs to go on air and clear this nonsense up! :)

      No chance of that ever happening - the mainstream media are the ones trying to push this crap so they protect their outdated business models. They will never print/telecast an opposing view.

        Just ask Dick Smith if you need evidence of this. :)

    This guys is wow.

    I don't even know where to start - Can some one give him a copy of..
    "The Internet & You: What is this interwebs anyway?"

    News Ltd employee, fear-mongering. Just another day in the office! ^_^

    So either he's lying or he's incompetent. These are the only 2 conclusion from available from reading that statement. Either way he should not be leading a company that is trying to pull itself into the 21st century.

      That's exactly what I was thinking. I would lose my job for making such an erroneous statement. I find it incredibly frustrating watching businessmen and politicians making grand statements about technology that they clearly don't understand.

    It took a not-for-profit broadcaster to own this space.. BBC iPlayer Global is the first stream+download app that I have been happy and willing to pay for. I love it to bits. If only the other networks would do something similar.

    hahaha. he has a girls name!

    Williams is in LA LA LAND I live here in Asia the Philippines and the country is awash with pirated stuff from D.V.D.s to motor oil cloths phones power tools sex stimulates and anything else you can think of.
    And Williams wants to stop it my advice to this overpaid fool is first look at the supply chain and where from CHINA but then maybe this clown does not know that just running away with his mouth too much money too many people involved to ever stop it now....

    This from a company that regularly hacked people's telephones for commercial gain. And then denied denied denied and covered it up as far as they possibly could when they were caught red handed. As this article highlights, the company has no regard for facts, it seeks to further its commercial gain by any means possible.

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