IP Awareness Foundation piracy report

The IP Awareness Foundation report on piracy demonstrates that an effective war against piracy is one fought on multiple fronts

Piracy rates decrease 4% overall

Some positive news on the piracy front from Australia in a report just released by the Intellectual Property Awareness Foundation.  The study finds that Australian piracy rates (among those 18 to 64)  have decreased 4% in the past year.

Following the report’s release some of the headlines focused on new streaming services like Netflix as the reason for the decrease, but IP Awareness Executive Director Lori Flekser says other factors like the high-profile Dallas Buyers Club lawsuit, and legislation allowing blocking of pirate sites and a soon-to-be-enforced requirement that ISPs send customers “copyright infringement” warnings if they download pirated content.

Flekser expressed the belief that to successfully fight online piracy, the battle needs to happen on multiple fronts:

Piracy has always needed a range of measures to tackle the problem as we all know there is no silver bullet. 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 of copyright theft…

…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.

Despite the positive trends found by the study, there’s also indications that so-called “persistent pirates” have dug in and are stealing at greater rates than in the past. Some key findings from the study include:

• 25% of Australian adults aged 18-64 pirate – a decrease from 29% in the previous year.

• Persistent pirates continue to maintain high levels of frequency with 40% claiming to be pirating more than they did 12 months ago.

• Those who have pirated are far more likely than those who have never pirated to be aware of anti-piracy initiatives such as the Copyright Amendment Bill 2015 (43% vs 24%), Dallas Buyers Club litigation (51% vs 42%) and proposed notification scheme (48% vs 32%).

• Streaming services show growth – from 26% in 2014 to 32% in 2015, with high levels of awareness of new services. 33% of respondents accessing a subscription service are taking advantage of a free trial, with 66% of those indicating their intention to take up a paid service in future.

• Of those who claim to be pirating less frequently, 33% identify legal alternatives as the main reason for declining piracy rates, while 63% cite other reasons including moral considerations (21% – feeling bad about pirating/acknowledging piracy is theft) or self-interest (16% – worrying about being caught or getting a virus) or no longer having time (13%)

Flekser also noted that education plays an important role in lowering piracy rates and she was quick to praise Australian government officials for their work in helping safeguard the rights of creators:

We applaud the leadership shown by Government in passing critical legislation, and the public discourse from Ministers Turnbull and Brandis, which has shone a light on this issue and given the creative industry the opportunity to have its say amidst the very vocal blogosphere and wide media coverage of a well intentioned but not always well-informed consumer advocacy campaign…

It’s always positive news to see piracy numbers decline anywhere in the world.  And while it’s too early to predict where all the chips may fall, one hopes that U.S. lawmakers will look to Australia’s approach as a potential blueprint for designing a successful attack on piracy here.

Our representatives in Congress need to understand that taking legislative action against online piracy profiteers won’t break the internet, but it will help protect the livelihoods of American workers who work in a wide swath of creative industries.

As Wade Tyree wrote in a recent piece for The Hill, “The magic depends on us all, creators and audiences alike.”