We're paying how much?
On average, Australians pay up to 50 per cent more for software and digitally distributed products such as music and movies, according to the IT Pricing Inquiry report, which cited multiple examples where the local cost of products was significantly higher than in other countries.
Even now, the top five movies on Apple's iTunes service for example command a higher asking price in Australia even though they are distributed through the same channels. A copy of I, Frankenstein in HD will set you back $14.99 in the US (exchanges to $15.98 AUS) versus $24.99 here, while Pompeii, which also costs US $14.99, asks for almost twice as much in Australia at $29.99.
On Wednesday, software giant EA Games confirmed that video game streaming service EA Access will be coming to Australia. The subscription service lets you play games over the internet rather than buying a digital download or physical disk. While US gamers pay US $4.99 a month (exchanges to $5.32 AUS) or US$29.99 per year (exchanges to $31.96 AUS), Australians will need to fork out $6.99 a month or $39.99 per year.
Companies including Microsoft, Adobe and Apple argued that this price gap was due to local copyright expenses and the cost of doing business in Australia. The inquiry rejected their arguments, however – particularly in the case of digitally delivered content.
A question of access
In April, the season four finale of Game of Thrones was released exclusively on Foxtel two hours after airing in the US. Not wanting to pay a minimum $35 for access, many Australians turned to torrenting.
CHOICE believes that exclusive deals such as this fail to reflect the needs of consumers, who want to access content in a timely manner and at a fair price. We feel that this is the reason many Australians resort to piracy. Improved access, flexible content and competitive pricing are likely to provide a much more effective solution to piracy, than the methods proposed in the leaked government documents.
Australians have shown that they are happy to pay for content if it is released in a timely and accessible manner. A recent report from software management company Pocketbook found that Netflix is Australia's second-most popular entertainment service after Foxtel, despite not being officially available here.