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Federal government research undermines its own piracy plan

Piracy notice scheme one of the least effective options for preventing piracy

22 July 2015

The Federal Government has today published research into online copyright infringement that raises questions about the effectiveness of its key initiative for reducing online piracy. 

The survey, prepared for the Department of Communications, reveals those factors most likely to change people's behaviour by encouraging them to stop pirating TV, movies, music and video games.

According to the research, one of the least effective options for stopping people from pirating would be receiving a letter from their Internet Service Provider saying their account would be suspended, with only 2 in 10 pirates saying this would change their behaviour. 

However, CHOICE says this option looks a lot like the industry-run 'education notice' scheme currently being pushed by the Federal Government.

"This flies in the face of the current industry plan to send 'education notices' to internet users who have allegedly pirated content," says Matt Levey, CHOICE Director of Campaigns and Communications[1]

"Based on the Government's own research, the education notice scheme that's been submitted for approval is one of the least effective options for stopping piracy," Mr Levey says.

"We have to ask why is the industry so keen to pursue this scheme when the research shows there are easier, better options available?" 

According to the survey, the most effective options for encouraging people to stop accessing content unlawfully are market-based. The research found that:
  • 39% of digital content consumers would stop pirating if legal content was cheaper 
  • 38% would stop if legal content was more readily available; and 
  • 36% would stop pirating if overseas content was released at the same time in Australia.
"We've long known that price, availability and release delays are key factors that underpin rates of personal online copyright infringement in Australia," says Mr Levey.

"We're not at all surprised that the research shows a significant proportion of people say they would access content legally if it was available in a timely fashion and at a fair price.

"When we compare Australia to other jurisdictions, like the UK, it's clear that local consumers have paid too much for too little content for too long.

"This survey was commenced before the launch of new TV streaming service Netflix into the local market.

"Based on these findings, it will be interesting to see the impact on rates of infringement once Australians have more affordable, immediate and flexible access to content than they have historically enjoyed through an expensive pay TV monopoly," Mr Levey says.

The proposed industry 'education notice' code was submitted for approval to the Australian Communications and Media Authority on 8 April 2015. The code has yet to be approved. CHOICE's campaign against ineffective anti-piracy policies can be found at www.choice.good.do/nofilter.

[1] The system proposed by the industry purports to be an educational scheme, but has a focus on facilitating court actions. After a customer receives three notices, a rights holder will be able to compel their ISP to hand over the customer's personal details to make court action easier and faster. The Communications Minister has acknowledged that termination of an account would be an extreme measure. See Malcolm Turnbull MP, Online Copyright Infringement FAQs, http://www.malcolmturnbull.com.au/policy-faqs/online-copyright-infringement-faqs#industry code


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