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Australia: Online copyright infringement rates decrease

Australia’s Department of Communications and the Arts has released the results of the 2016 online copyright infringement survey, which show an overall decrease in the level of infringement in the past year largely because of the increase in the availability of online streaming.

A fall in the proportion of Australian Internet users accessing unlawful content online and a rise in the uptake of streaming services are the key findings of the 2016 online copyright infringement survey.

The results of Australia’s second survey of online copyright infringement, showed that 23 per cent of Australian Internet users were accessing unlawful online content. This is down from 26 per cent in 2015, when the survey was first conducted. The results determine that the pricing and availability of online copyright content, such as streaming services, has led to a reduction in infringement.

TNS Australia conducted the survey on behalf of the Department of Communications and the Arts between January and March 2016, with over 2,400 people taking part.

The survey is designed to understand the types of copyright material that is being infringed across four key types of online content: music, movies, video games and TV programs. It also seeks to understand attitudes that drive copyright infringement behaviour.

The key findings were as follows:

Consumption of digital content

  • In 2016, 6 in 10 Australian Internet users aged 12+ (62 per cent) had consumed at least one item of digital content from across the four core content types in the past 3 months, which was consistent with digital consumption in 2015 (60 per cent).
  • There was a shift from 2015 to 2016 in digital behaviour from downloading content (the prevalence of which dropped from 43 per cent to 39 per cent) to streaming content (which increased from 54 per cent to 57 per cent).
  • The increase between 2015 and 2016 in rates of streaming was to TV programmes and movies: The proportion of Internet users who streamed TV programmes increased from 34 per cent to 38 per cent (making TV the most commonly accessed content type via online streaming) and the proportion of Internet users who streamed movies increased from 25 per cent to 29 per cent. The decrease between 2015 and 2016 in rates of downloading was largest for music, where it dropped from 29 per cent to 26 per cent (although music remained the most commonly downloaded content type).
  • For all four content types, the proportion of consumers streaming the content types on a weekly basis increased significantly from 2015 to 2016 to reach 71 per cent for music and video games, 55 per cent for TV programmes and 51 per cent for movies.
  • In 2016, the most consumed digital content type of the four was TV programmes (41 per cent, up from 38 per cent in 2015), overtaking music (39 per cent, down from 42 per cent in 2015). This was followed by movies (33 per cent), and lastly video games (15 per cent).
  • Amongst consumers of digital content, the median number of files downloaded across the four content types in 2016 was 12, which matched the 2015 result. However, the median number of files streamed across the four content types increased from 14 in 2015 to 20 in 2016.

Sharing of digital content

  • There was a significant increase from 8 per cent in 2015 to 11 per cent in 2016 in the proportion of Australian Internet users aged 12+ who had shared at least one item of digital content from across the four core content types in the past 3 months.
  • The median level of sharing of any of the four content types slightly increased from 5 files in 2015 to 6 files in 2016.

Payment for digital content

  • 2016 saw a move towards paid content, with a significant decline from 86 per cent in 2015 to 83 per cent in 2016 in the proportion of digital content consumers from across the four content types who consumed at least some of it for free, and a parallel decline (from 47 per cent to 41 per cent) in the proportion consuming all their content for free.
  • There was a significant decline from 2015 to 2016 in the proportion of TV programme consumers who had consumed any free content (down from 87 per cent to 75 per cent) and 100 per cent free content (down from 76 per cent to 61 per cent), although TV continued to be the content type with the highest proportion of 100 per cent free consumption.
  • There was also a significant decline from 2015 to 2016 in the proportion of movie consumers who had consumed any free content (down from 79 per cent to 64 per cent) and 100 per cent free content (down from 58 per cent to 39 per cent).
  • The changes from 2015 to 2016 amongst consumers were reflected in an increase in the proportion of all Internet users who had paid to consume content, up from 32 per cent to 36 per cent, driven by increases in the proportion paying to consume movies (up from 12 per cent to 20 per cent) and to consume TV programmes (up from 9 per cent to 16 per cent).

Levels of infringement

  • TNS estimates that, over the first 3 months of 2016, 23 per cent of Australian Internet users aged 12+ consumed at least one item of online content unlawfully, which equates to approximately 4.6 million people. This was a significant drop from the 26 per cent who had consumed unlawful content in 2015.
  • As in 2015, around a quarter of these infringers (in 2016, 6 per cent of Internet users) exclusively consumed unlawful content.
  • If instead of looking at ‘all Internet users aged 12+’ TNS uses as its base ‘all Internet users who consumed content online over the 3 month period’, TNS finds that 37 per cent of content consumers had consumed at least some unlawful files in the past 3 months, a significant drop from 43 per cent in 2015, and that there was also a significant decline in the proportion of content consumers who consumed all their files unlawfully, down from 12 per cent in 2015 to 9 per cent in 2016.
  • Although movies continued to have the highest rate of unlawful consumption amongst consumers in 2016 (39 per cent), this had declined significantly from 48 per cent in 2015, driven by a significant decline in the proportion consuming ‘100 per cent unlawful’ content from 32 per cent in 2015 down to 23 per cent in 2016. There were similar declines for music (in any unlawful consumption from 37 per cent to 32 per cent; in 100 per cent unlawful consumption from 20 per cent to 15 per cent) and for TV programmes (in any unlawful consumption from 33 per cent to 26 per cent; in 100 per cent unlawful consumption from 21 per cent to 15 per cent). The rate of unlawful consumption for video games remained the same as in 2015, but was the lowest of the four content types.
  • TNS estimates that in the first quarter of 2016 279 million music tracks, 56 million TV programmes, 34 million movies and 5 million video games were unlawfully consumed online. This represented a drop in volumes for video games and TV programmes but an increase for music and movies.
  • Across all consumers of unlawful content, the median number of files downloaded or streamed unlawfully in the first three months of 2016 was 16, which matched the result from 2015. The median number of files downloaded or streamed unlawfully was highest for music (20 tracks – equivalent to two albums), followed by TV programmes (7), movies (5) and video games (3), which were all broadly consistent with findings from 2015.
  • Movies consumed digitally remained the most likely content type to have been consumed unlawfully: 37 per cent of consumed digital movies were consumed unlawfully (consistent with 36 per cent in 2015) compared with a quarter of music tracks (23 per cent) and TV programmes (24 per cent), with a smaller proportion of TV programmes consumed unlawfully than in 2015 (32 per cent). Video games had the smallest proportion consumed unlawfully, following a drop from 29 per cent in 2015 to 14 per cent in 2016.

Services used for consuming or sharing digital content

  • YouTube remained the most commonly used service for consuming or sharing content, both overall and for music, but there was a drop in overall usage of the site, from 55 per cent in 2015 to 48 per cent in 2016, driven by decreasing proportions using it for movies and TV programmes. iTunes/Apple remained the second most used site or service, both overall and for music, but also experienced a significant decline from 37 per cent in 2015 to 32 per cent in 2016, with lower proportions using it for movies.
  • In 2016, 27 per cent of consumers or sharers had used Netflix, up from 9 per cent in 2015, and making it the third most popular service overall. The proportion using Netflix for movies increased from 16 per cent in 2015 to 41 per cent in 2016, and the proportion using Netflix for TV programmes increased from 12 per cent in 2015 to 31 per cent in 2016, meaning it was the most popular service for both movies and TV programmes.
  • Three other movie and TV streaming services, namely Foxtel/Presto, Stan and SBS On Demand, also had significantly higher levels of usage for consuming and sharing movies and TV programmes in 2016 than in 2015.
  • Use of Spotify as a music streaming service increased significantly from 19 per cent in 2015 to 30 per cent in 2016; and use of Pandora as a music streaming service also increased significantly from 9 per cent in 2015 to 13 per cent in 2016.
  • As in 2015, Steam was the most used service for video games, with EB Games moving above iTunes/Apple in 2016 to become the second most used service.
  • As in 2015, infringers were far more likely than non-infringers to use sites, protocols or applications enabling peer-to-peer sharing, in the form of uTorrent (24 per cent), BitTorrent (22 per cent) and Pirate Bay (16 per cent), whereas 4 per cent or less of non-infringers said they had used these. Peer-to-peer sharing remained most prominent for movies, with uTorrent and BitTorrent in the top ten most used sites or services for accessing movie content. However, usage of both these methods for movies declined significantly from 2015 to 2016 (from 19 per cent to 13 per cent for uTorrent and from 16 per cent to 12 per cent for BitTorrent).

Spend

  • The proportion of 12+ individuals who spent money on at least one of the spend categories analysed ranged from 23 per cent for video games and 29 per cent for TV programmes to 54 per cent for music and 71 per cent for movies. Except for video games, the proportion of individuals who spent money on each category had increased significantly compared with 2015.
  • Average quarterly spend ranged from $20.90 for TV programmes to $91.10 for music, and had increased for all content types compared with 2015.
  • For both music and movies, the majority of the average spend was not from purchases of either digital or physical copies. In the case of music this primarily consisted of concerts and gigs and in the case of movies, of going to the cinema. For all content types, the average amount of money spent on physical purchases was substantially larger than the amount spent on digital purchases. This was all comparable to 2015.
  • There was a significant increase in the proportion of people spending money on online subscriptions for movies (up from 4 per cent in 2015 to 14 per cent in 2016), and in the average amount they spent (up from $1.10 to $5.10). The proportion of people spending money on TV programme subscriptions (16 per cent), and the average amount they spent ($5.90), closely mirrors movie subscriptions (this was not asked about in the 2015 survey). There has also been a significant, although more modest, increase in the proportion of people spending money on online subscriptions for music (up from 7 per cent in 2015 to 10 per cent in 2016), and in the average amount they spent (up from $6.50 to $11.20).
  • For each content type, those who consumed a mix of lawful and unlawful content spent more money over a 3-month period than those who consumed 100 per cent of their content lawfully, but those who consumed 100 per cent of their content unlawfully spent the least money. This is comparable to the figures from 2015, and suggests that those who consume 100 per cent of their content lawfully tend to consume less content (and hence spend less money) than those who consume a mix of lawful and unlawful content. Since the majority of spend on music and movies was not from content purchases but from concerts and gigs and the cinema, those who consumed 100 per cent of their content unlawfully still spent a substantial amount of money on music and movies. In contrast, they did not spend very much money on either video games or TV programmes.

Price sensitivity

  • To convince a majority of digital music consumers to pay for digital music, a single music track download would need to be priced at $1.19 and a music subscription service would need to be priced at $5 a month (although nearly half would pay $10 a month). This was the same as in 2015, although music consumers were generally a little more likely to pay each price in 2016 than they were in 2015.
  • To convince a majority of digital movie consumers to pay for digital movies, a single movie download would need to be priced at $5 and a movie subscription service would need to be priced at $10 a month. Again, this mirrored findings from 2015, although movie consumers were generally a little more likely to pay each price in 2016 than they were in 2015.

Reasons for using paid services and for infringing

  • The most commonly cited reason for using paid services remained convenience (50 per cent), followed by speed (39 per cent), wanting to support creators/industry (37 per cent), and preferring not to use sites providing unlawful content (37 per cent). The top reasons were the same as in 2015, although the proportion of those paying for content who cited wanting to support creators/industry had fallen from 43 per cent.
  • As in 2015, the most commonly cited reasons for infringing were because it is free (52 per cent), convenient (44 per cent) and quick (41 per cent). Infringers were less likely than in 2015 to cite convenience (down from 51 per cent to 44 per cent) and trying before they can buy (down from 35 per cent to 24 per cent) as a motivation.

What would make infringers stop?

  • A reduction in the cost of lawful content was, as in 2015, the most commonly cited factor that would encourage people to stop infringing (43 per cent of infringers), closely followed by lawful content being available as soon as it is released elsewhere (35 per cent) and lawful content being available (31 per cent). The proportion citing lawful content being available fell significantly from 38 per cent in 2015 to 31 per cent in 2016.
  • Other common motivating factors to stop unlawful consumption related to lawful services being convenient/flexible (30 per cent) or being better (27 per cent). In both cases, the proportion of infringers selecting this factor increased compared with 2015 (from 26 per cent and 22 per cent respectively).
  • Only 1 in 20 infringers (6 per cent) said that nothing would make them stop, rising to 1 in 10 (10 per cent) of those consuming 100 per cent of their content unlawfully. This is consistent with the 2015 findings.

Levels of consumer awareness in lawful services and confidence about what is and is not lawful online

  • Overall, a high proportion of Internet users aged 12+ (42 per cent) stated they were either “not particularly” or “not at all confident” in their knowledge regarding what is and what is not lawful online, which broadly matched the 2015 figure of 43 per cent.
  • There were lower levels of confidence among females (45 per cent not confident) than males (38 per cent), although the proportion of females who were not confident fell significantly from 50 per cent in 2015 to 45 per cent in 2016.
  • There was a trend towards lower levels of confidence with an increase in age, with 35 per cent of 12-15 year olds and 32 per cent of 16-24 year olds rating themselves as not confident compared with 42 per cent of 45-54 year olds and 54 per cent of those aged 55+. However, levels of confidence have been increasing amongst those aged 45+: In 2015 49 per cent of 45-54 year olds and 59 per cent of those aged 55+ were not confident.
  • Awareness levels for licensed online services Netflix (73 per cent compared with 51 per cent), Stan (49 per cent compared with 30 per cent) and Spotify (48 per cent compared with 38 per cent) were all far higher in 2016 than in 2015. YouTube and Foxtel/Presto remained the two best known licenced services, with Netflix overtaking iTunes/Apple to become the third best known licenced service.

The most commonly cited indicator of an online service providing access to licensed content was the presence of a trusted brand (15 per cent), followed by a well-known brand (11 per cent), a legal statement (12 per cent) and having to pay (10 per cent). This was broadly in line with findings from 2015.

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