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Oz Biz Encouraged To Bypass Geoblocks

Posted by Michael Bloch in online world (Monday July 29, 2013 )

We live in the lucky country – unless you’re buying certain types of software; downloading tunes or streaming movies.

A Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications has determined Australian businesses are paying up to 50 per cent more for IT products.

It’s such an issue that even our own government is advising Australian businesses to (legally) circumvent geo-blocking put in place by some companies – cough – Microsoft, Apple and Adobe – cough – to make us pay through the nose for software.

The companies can claim the increased cost of doing business in Australia for physical products perhaps, but not when it comes to software available as a download.

The problem was such that the parliamentary inquiry forced some of the world’s biggest IT companies to turn up in person to explain the price hikes. I remember reading the associated stories and the Committee was not impressed with the excuses reasons given by the execs.

Consumer group Choice put in a submission last year (PDF) on the topic – a couple of examples were Windows 7 costing 47% more and Microsoft Office costing 37% more at the time the data was gathered.

You can read more about the issue here – including some tips on circumventing geo-blocks; but use at your own risk.

Thankfully it seems the Standing Committee’s enquiry has seen some players pull their heads in and adjust pricing. The Committee has also recommended reforms to the Competition and Consumer Act and the Copyright Act to remove barriers to competition and to ensure consumer rights are not trodden on (more) in the transition to digital content.

It’s really counterproductive that these companies scream about piracy but price products to actually encourage it (btw – circumventing geoblocking is not piracy; but it may run afoul of a company’s terms of service/purchase).

That said, I’m by no means attempting to encourage the practice of piracy – and I sleep well (if somewhat poorer) in the knowledge that all my software is legal.

However, I guess that is what spurs on these companies to maintain unfair pricing points – people like me who will pay full price (or simply go without).


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