Australia's golden age of piracy looks set to end, with Telstra, the country's biggest internet provider, declaring it will work with the Government to help stop entertainment "theft".
Speaking after the company released its financial results yesterday, Australia's biggest internet provider also made its first comments on the Federal Government's metadata-retention proposal.
"We've got to get some clarity around exactly what changes the Government is asking," chief executive David Thodey said. "But on the early discussions, we don't see it as a significant issue for Telstra going forward."
The Government last week revealed its proposal to force telecommunications companies to keep customers' metadata for two years.
With the most internet and mobile customers in Australia, Telstra would be the company most affected by the Government's proposal.
However, Mr Thodey's statement was in stark contrast to internet provider iiNet's comments on the issue.
The Perth company has criticised the move and predicted it could cost its internet customers as much as $130 per year in related infrastructure costs.
Telstra and the other major internet providers held discussions with the Government over the proposal last week.
Commenting on the online piracy debate, which came to a head this month after Attorney-General George Brandis' moves to force internet providers to potentially block sites engaging in piracy, Mr Thodey said Telstra had a role to play.
"Piracy of content is theft," Mr Thodey said.
"You can't justify it (downloading pirated content) because of the price of content. A whole industry exists to create great content."
Telstra yesterday revealed a cash bonanza for its 1.4 million shareholders, raising its dividend for the second time this year and launching a $1 billion share buyback.
Telstra will return $4.7 billion overall to investors next month as reward for a full-year profit that hit $4.3 billion.
The company's main driver of profit was its mobile division. Telstra consolidated its lead over Optus and Vodafone, increasing its mobile phone customer base by almost one million to 16 million.
Optus' numbers fell 126,000 to nine million during the past year. Vodafone has about five million customers.
'Piracy of content is theft. You can't justify it because of the price of content.'"
- David Thodey * Telstra chief executive