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Australian piracy rates fall

October 13, 2015

By Colin Mann

Research released at the Australian International Movie Convention shows piracy rates have fallen – in incidence and frequency – with evidence that recent environmental changes are showing effect. The independent study was commissioned by the IP Awareness Foundation  – a broad membership of film and television organisations in Australia committed to educating people about the value of screen content.

According to IP Awareness Executive Director Lori Flekser, the combination of new legislation passed in June (Copyright Amendment Bill 2015), the high-profile Dallas Buyers Club legal case, the proposed notification scheme and the launch of new streaming services have all contributed to the downward movement of piracy rates.

“We applaud the leadership shown by Government in passing critical legislation, and the public discourse from Ministers Turnbull and Brandis, which has shone a light on this issue and given the creative industry the opportunity to have its say amidst the very vocal blogosphere and wide media coverage of a well-intentioned but not always well-informed consumer advocacy campaign,” said Flekser.

Key findings of the new IP Awareness Foundation research include:

  • 25 per cent of Australian adults aged 18-64 pirate – a decrease from 29 per cent in the previous year.
  • Persistent pirates continue to maintain high levels of frequency with 40 per cent claiming to be pirating more than they did 12 months ago.
  • Those who have pirated are far more likely than those who have never pirated to be aware of anti-piracy initiatives such as the Copyright Amendment Bill 2015 (43 per cent vs 24 per cent), Dallas Buyers Club litigation (51 per cent vs 42 per cent) and proposed notification scheme (48 per cent vs 32 per cent).
  • Streaming services show growth – from 26 per cent in 2014 to 32 per cent in 2015, with high levels of awareness of new services. 33 per cent of respondents accessing a subscription service are taking advantage of a free trial, with 66 per cent of those indicating their intention to take up a paid service in future.
  • Of those who claim to be pirating less frequently, 33 per cent identify legal alternatives as the main reason for declining piracy rates, while 63 per cent cite other reasons including moral considerations (21 per cent – feeling bad about pirating/acknowledging piracy is theft) or self-interest (16 per cent – worrying about being caught or getting a virus) or no longer having time (13 per cent).

Flekser said that whilst she welcomes this news with cautious optimism, there is no room for complacency as the figures demonstrate that persistent pirates maintain high levels of piracy, with many claiming to be pirating more than they did a year ago.

“Piracy has always needed a range of measures to tackle the problem as we all know there is no silver bullet. This fall in piracy rates is definitely largely attributable to the combination of the government’s new legislation, plus the ongoing efforts of the creative industries to continue delivering great content at accessible prices to Australian consumers and the work being done to educate consumers about the impact of copyright theft,” she suggested. “Strong copyright laws are needed to ensure the vibrancy and growth of the creative sector which in turn contributes to the economy, provides jobs and stimulates local culture. Copyright facilitates innovation rather than hinders it.”

According to Flekser, education also plays an important role in the fight against copyright theft. “IP Awareness focuses a lot of effort on creating consumer campaigns and free online resources to teach primary and secondary students about the value of content, the role of copyright and the impact of piracy.”

Categories: Articles, Consumer Behaviour, Content, Markets, Piracy, Policy, Regulation, Research, Rights