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Piracy Of Subscription

Piracy of subscription television services is a serious crime and costs the Subscription Television Industry millions of dollars in revenue and resources, which would otherwise be used to grow the Australian Television and Production Industries.

Piracy occurs when a viewer or end user gains access to a Subscription Television Service without payment to the relevant subscription television provider. This can be either by use of pirate smart cards and unauthorised use of set top boxes. Piracy is also the sale, manufacture and distribution of broadcast decoding devices.


Piracy is a crime that incurs both civil and criminal penalties.

The Copyright Act 1968 (the Act) was amended in 2000 by the Copyright Amendment (Digital Agenda) Act 2000 to combat piracy. The amendments came into effect on 4 March 2001. The relevant sections appear in the new Part VAA- Broadcast Decoding Devices.

The provisions of the Act impose prohibitions against commercial dealings in devices designed to facilitate the unauthorised reception of subscription television broadcasts. The types of dealings that are prohibited include the unauthorised manufacture, sale, distribution, importation, exhibition or use in connection with a business or trade of a broadcast decoding device.

The Act imposes civil and criminal remedies for the conduct. The relief that is available to the subscription television operator includes:


-an injunction

-damages or an account of profits

-possible additional damages for flagrancy

-destruction of any devices, which are the subject of the action.

The criminal penalties are a fine of up to $60,500.00 and/or up to five years imprisonment.
Piracy also constitutes an offence under State legislation dealing with fraud and obtaining benefits by deception.


Costs to the Industry

Since its inception in Australia in 1995, the Subscription Television industry has invested $8 billion in people, infrastructure, technology and programming and now directly employs over 3,500 people ranging from program makers and advanced IT professionals to call centre staff and sales people. Thousands of others are indirectly employed in related industries.

Piracy undermines this contribution, costing the subscription television industry millions of dollars in lost revenue each year.


A Cooperative Approach

Industry members are working co-operatively through ASTRA to address this problem.

The Subscription Television industry is also committed to actively assisting State and Federal police to combat piracy and theft of equipment.


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