SEASONED illegal downloaders continue to pirate despite the arrival of Netflix and other online streaming content, according to the entertainment industry’s peak copyright body.
While new research from the Intellectual Property Awareness Foundation shows piracy rates had fallen, those who have been carrying out the illegal activity for some time claim they are pirating more than they did 12 months ago.
The findings of the IPAF’s seventh report were released today at the Australian International Movie Convention being held on the Gold Coast.
The IPAF says new government legislation passed in June, the high-profile Dallas Buyers Club legal case, the proposed notification scheme and the launch of new streaming services has contributed to the downward movement of piracy.
The report found that overall the number of Australians aged 18-64 who illegally download dropped from 29 per cent last year to 25 per cent this year.
But it also acknowledges that these factors have not deterred everyone.
Of those who still frequently pirate material, 40 per cent claim they download more than they did 12 months ago.
IPAF executive director Lori Flesker said while overall numbers had dropped, the figures showed 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,” she said.
“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.
“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.”
The research also found subscriptions to streaming services had grown by six per cent from 26 per cent in 2014 to 32 per cent in 2015.
A third (33 per cent) of respondents said they took advantage of a free trial, with 66 per cent saying they intended to take up a paid service in future.
Netflix reportedly has around one million subscribers, while Fairfax and Nine Entertainment Co’s online streaming joint venture Stan has about 153,000 paying subscribers and Foxtel’s Presto service had about 80,000 subscribers, The Australian reported.
Of those who claimed to be pirating less frequently, a third (33 per cent) said legal alternatives such as streaming services like Netflix were the main reason, while 21 per cent said they felt bad.
16 per cent said they were worried about being caught or getting a virus and 13 per cent said they no longer had the time.
Ms Flekser said education played an important role in the fight against copyright theft.
The report found those who had pirated were far more likely than those who have never pirated to be aware of the Copyright Amendment Bill 2015 (43 per cent vs 24 per cent), the Dallas Buyers Club litigation (51 per cent vs 42 per cent) and the proposed notification scheme (48 per cent vs 32 per cent).
“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,” Ms Flesker said.