Survey: 1 in 4 Australians watch pirate content
February 10, 2023
By Colin Mann
Research conducted for the Attorney-General’s Department has revealed the rate of Australians accessing online content unlawfully remains extremely high.
In November 2022, the country’s government announced a review of copyright enforcement mechanisms to ensure Australia’s copyright laws remain fit-for-purpose and better able to adapt to evolving technologies and behaviours.
The 2022 Consumer Survey on Online Copyright Infringement report reveals 61 per cent of survey respondents consumed content lawfully, while 39 per cent consumed at least some content in ways that were likely to be unlawful. Overall 72 per cent of respondents are accessing entertainment online, including television, films, music, games and sports.
Other significant findings:
- While there are variations reported year-on-year, and some trends and changes apparent in consumption patterns, overall, there is considerable consistency in what has been reported by respondents over the past three years since the survey was substantially updated in 2020.
- A substantial proportion of the Australian community continue to report consuming at least some online content in the last three months. 72 per cent reported consuming at least one of music, movies / films, tv programmes, video games or live sport online in the three months prior to the survey (April-June 2022). This was similar to 71 per cent in 2021 and 75 per cent in 2020.
- 39 per cent of respondents who had consumed online content in the 2022 survey had done so in at least one way likely to be unlawful (‘infringers’), up from 30 per cent in 2021 and 34 per cent in 2020. Some 4 per cent were classified as infringers only because they had used the newly included paid credential sharing consumption method.
- Streaming is the dominant method of consuming content across all major content types. Of the respondents who consume online content, almost all consume at least some by streaming – 70 per cent of all respondents in 2022 (compared to 68 per cent in 2021 and 71 per cent in 2020). 33 per cent reported downloading any content in the last three months, similar to the 32 per cent reported in 2020, but higher than the 25 per cent reported in 2021 (mostly reflecting a higher proportion of video game consumers reporting at least some downloading). In 2022, a higher proportion of streaming was classified as likely to be unlawful.
- In 2022, respondents reported accessing online content in the same or slightly fewer ways – but reported accessing online content across a somewhat wider range of content types. Lawfulness of consumption for each content type did not vary greatly in 2022, but through the increased breadth of content areas respondents reported consuming, somewhat more of them did at least something that was classified as likely to be unlawful.
- Since 2020, the survey has included an expanded section on attitudes and motivators for consumers. These results have provided considerable information about the level of knowledge / uncertainty about lawful consumption amongst consumers, and their levels of concern. These results have shown clear patterns in the community, and variations between infringers and non-infringers. After three years of tracking these results, the patterns indicate that knowledge and attitudes are reasonably stable, suggesting any changes are likely to be incremental rather than seen in significant annual fluctuations or changes. Noteworthy patterns seen in 2022 include:
- If anything, the confidence of respondents to identify what is lawful or unlawful content may be declining very slightly over the past three years.
- Concern about accessing unlawful content is lower in 2022.
- There remains considerable ambiguity about the likelihood for online consumption activities to be lawful; and younger respondents are the most likely to think that all types of consumption activities are likely to be lawful.
The Albanese Government is committed to copyright laws that protect Australian artists and enable them to earn a living from their creative works, while ensuring more people can continue to easily enjoy entertainment.
This year’s survey captures emerging trends in how Australians are unlawfully accessing content. This data will help the Government’s copyright enforcement review understand this problem.
The public consultation process for the copyright enforcement review will close on March 7th.