Australian piracy rates fall as Australians embrace Netflix

Australian piracy rates are falling due to legislation changes and the Dallas Buyers Club lawsuit, a new report by IP Awareness has found.

By Dan Barrett

A study by the IP Awareness Foundation has found that piracy rates have fallen, both in terms of frequency and the number of times Australians download content.

The survey, released at the Australian International Movie Convention, currently taking place on the Gold Coast,

The executive director of IP Awareness, Lori Flesker, believes the falling numbers are attributed to a combination of recent legislation changes, the proposed notification scheme, awareness of the Dallas Buyers Club legal case and the launch of new streaming services like Netflix.

“We applaud the leadership shown by Government in passing critical legislation, and the public discourse from Ministers [Malcolm] Turnbull and [George] 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.

Consumer lobby group CHOICE, who have been highly vocal on the matter have told media week agree that there has been a reduction in piracy rates, with head of media Tom Godfrey stating that: “CHOICE’s latest research shows that the arrival of streaming services is responsible for the decline in piracy rates, which fell by a quarter in the months following the launch of Netflix, Stan and others. On top of this, the number of people subscribing to paid services jumped up (from 46% to 59%)”.

Godfrey said that CHOICE disagree on the reason why piracy is declining, advising that “the government’s own research found that contacting people about alleged infringements in the way Dallas Buyers Club is proposing, is one of the least effective ways of reducing piracy. We know what works to reduce piracy and change behaviours – reduce the price, improve availability and eliminate release delays”.

The IP Awareness Foundation report that:

  • 25% of Australian adults aged 18-64 pirate – a decrease from 29% in the previous year.
  • Persistent pirates continue to maintain high levels of frequency with 40% 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% vs 24%), Dallas Buyers Club litigation (51% vs 42%) and proposed notification scheme (48% vs 32%).
  • Streaming services show growth – from 26% in 2014 to 32% in 2015, with high levels of awareness of new services. 33% of respondents accessing a subscription service are taking advantage of a free trial, with 66% of those indicating their intention to take up a paid service in future.
  • Of those who claim to be pirating less frequently, 33% identify legal alternatives as the main reason for declining piracy rates, while 63% cite other reasons including moral considerations (21% – feeling bad about pirating/acknowledging piracy is theft) or self-interest (16% – worrying about being caught or getting a virus) or no longer having time (13%).

Members of the IP Awareness Foundation include Foxtel, the Australian Home Entertainment Distributors Association (AHEDA), the Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia (MPDAA), National Association of Cinema Operators (NACO), and the Australian Screen Association (ASA). The Australian Screen Association, formerly known as the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT), achieved a high profile in 2012 when their lawsuit against iiNet for facilitating copyright breaches was overturned in the High Court.

While legislation changes and concern over the yet-to-be-implemented notification scheme may deter some would-be downloaders, VPN services have reported a dramatic increase in customers. One provider reported a 60% increase in Australian users in August, following revelations that ISP’s will be forced to collect the metadata of its users and keep it for two years. The use of such VPN services would also hide the traffic of pirate downloading.

Photo: Starz’s Black Sails


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