On Wednesday, the Australian government quietly made public the results of the online copyright infringement research it commissioned. The research was conducted by TNS Australia for the Department of Communications.
The research shows 65% of Australians had consumed digital content via the internet and 43% had consumed at least some content illegally.
The research indicates current methods of combating piracy, the proposed Copyright Notice Scheme Code, or the government’s recently passed website blocking legislation are unlikely to have a significant impact on consumers’ current attitudes and behaviour.
A mere 21% of those surveyed indicated they would be encouraged to stop infringing copyright by receiving a letter from their internet service provider threatening a suspension of their account. Of course in a real-world situation that number may increase once the threat of suspension becomes a reality.
On the other hand, 36% indicated they would be less likely to infringe if the content was made available as soon as it was released elsewhere, 38% if legal content was more readily available, and 39% if there was a reduction in price.
These are all familiar themes that have been raised time and time again by those arguing against the current, outdated, and arguably anti-competitive, model of distribution used by copyright owners, designed with the sole aim of maximising profits. Themes that are routinely ignored by copyright owners, who instead choose to make the fight against copyright infringement the new war on drugs.
In summary, consumers want it now and want it reasonably priced. Very consumer-like of them. Consumers also indicated that from their perspective a reasonable price-point for downloading online content was $1.19 per song and $5 per movie. For streaming services their monthly price-point was $5 for music and $10 for movies.
It remains to be seen whether the government and the industry will start listening to, and meet the reasonable demands of, consumers or whether they will choose to continue with their strategy of legal annihilation, despite its apparent lack of effectiveness.
These recent government activities relating to online copyright infringements follow the issue of the Online Copyright Infringement Discussion Paper in July 2014, which outlined the Government’s proposed approach to amending the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth), aimed at reducing online piracy by Australians.
The issues raised by the Discussion Paper were discussed at the Online Copyright Infringement Forum in September 2014.
Online Copyright Infringement Forum, Sydney, Australia (9 September 2014)