Issue 25

Termination: Piracy? iiCaptain

Piracy? iiCaptain


15 May 2012

Text:/ Graeme Hague

This is a sad tale of digital piracy. It’s relevant since the recent court case against iiNet finally failed after more reversals than a Kardashian divorce settlement and no one’s quite sure what the result really ended up being – so it’s obvious the only real way we can stamp out piracy is to take responsibility for our own actions. Kind of like that Alcoholics Anonymous thing where everyone takes turns to stand up and declare they’ve had a few beers. We can stand up and say something like, “My name is John Citizen and yes – I have pirated software on my computer”. Then concerned colleagues can gather close and whisper uninstall procedures in our ear, while we shake our heads with furious denial.

Not me. I don’t have a skerrick of pirated software on my PC – honest. I could tell you it’s all about the ethics and morals of being a writer in this industry, but bugger that. Truth is, I’ve suffered more than my fair share of viruses and the resultant weeks of rebuilding an operating system, so any software that’s not 100%, caste-iron legal scares the hell out of me.

However, recently I was dragged down the dark path of illegal content. I was tempted by Beelzewarezbub himself and I failed the test. It was in one of those CD/DVD shops in Bali.


I feel a need to explain. You see, I work from an office in our home while my wife runs her own hairdressing salon in town (stick with me here). Somehow that arrangement translates into the concept that I don’t have a ‘real’ job, and she does. Hence I inherited the role of house-bitch and I’m expected to cook, clean, look after the four-legged kids, do the shopping… I can relate to that Mad Men TV show from the wrong side of the fence, if you know what I mean. Anyway, a part of my cleaning ritual on Saturday mornings is to put on a concert DVD loud to drown out the vacuum cleaner and my pathetic sobbing at my appalling lot in life. Trouble is, I’m pretty fussy about my concert DVDs. They have to be good – and that’s not easy to find.

So these DVD shops in Bali loomed as a potential solution to satisfying my concert DVD habit. The stores are amazing–in a bad way. They are choc-o-block with not just music CDs and DVDs, but every film and television show imaginable, plus there is software galore. If it’s ever been released digitally or downloaded, it’ll be there. Of course, all of it’s different and looks odd and the artwork is littered with suspect spelling, but that doesn’t stop most tourists from buying discs in bucketloads, emerging from the store looking like they’ve bought a crazy pack of playing cards rather than a collection of CDs. Because it doesn’t matter what it is – CD, DVD or software – every disc costs the equivalent of one Australian dollar. So, why not?

I bought two – really, just two. And one of those was a concert I’d already recorded on Foxtel, so I figured I’d already paid for it properly anyway… I think (iiNet will know the technical legalities). The other was a Doobie Brothers concert from a few years back. I’m not a huge Doobies fan, but I figured it might be interesting. I decided to savour the moment until I got home. Besides, on our luxury hotel room’s stereo system if you pressed the Rewind button the toilet flushed and the mute button drained the swimming pool. Okay, I’m exaggerating – but let’s say Balinese AV technicians need some serious training.


A few days later when the Big Moment arrived, things started getting disappointing. You can imagine what happened and I shouldn’t have been surprised, but let me point out that the artwork on the DVD was superb. ‘Doobie’ was spelled even correctly. Even the opening DVD menu was damned impressive – this was the real deal.

But the first minute of the concert footage was wobbly, out of focus and looked suspiciously like someone hastily setting up a Handicam in the auditorium after the houselights had gone down. I didn’t panic yet. Some very famous movie directors use this lo-fi look as an intro effect. Any second now the DVD might blossom into full HD with 5.1 surround sound.

It didn’t. The vision didn’t get any better and the audio sounded like I’d dropped a transistor radio behind the couch. I think you could hear someone eating a packet of chips near the camera. I’d been had, not only by the utterly unprincipled dude running the DVD shop, but the filthy cad who illegally filmed the concert (in Standard Definition, I might add – useless sod). I had half a mind to go back to Bali and demand my dollar back. It’s just lucky for them I had vacuuming to do.


The moral of the story is, of course, that you get what you pay for and anything pirated is ultimately going to be disappointing at some level. I succumbed to the Dark Side, bought a dodgy Doobie Brothers DVD and paid the price for my sins.

All right, it was only a dollar, but you get the point, right? The iiNet court reportedly cost $9 million and no one quite knows what was the point of it all. So it’s best to stay away from pirated stuff altogether.

I could explain more, but I have to do the dishes.


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Issue 25