Australians still being ripped off on digital goods

Study finds 79 per cent of people unhappy with inflated costs
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01.Music, movies and TV shows can cost up to twice as much


The IT Pricing Inquiry wrapped up in July 2013, but Australians are still paying more for technology and digital media than their overseas counterparts. Now, an independent survey has found that 79 per cent of people are concerned about these extra costs.

After talking to nearly 1200 Australians, the study from Essential Media Communications also found that 58 per cent of people aren't happy about movies and TV shows being legally released online overseas, but not in Australia. The news comes just days after a federal discussion paper on copyright infringement and piracy, was leaked online.

The paper outlines two key proposals, which take a strong stance against illegal downloading. The first aims to put increased liability for piracy back on internet service providers (ISPs), while the second proposal wants to introduce an anti-piracy internet filter. Together, these would allow copyright holders to force ISPs to block access to certain websites via a court order.

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.



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