New research released today by the Communications Alliance has found Australians believe early availability of affordable content is a key to combating illegal downloading.The report additionally found that, should internet service providers (ISPs) be forced to shoulder the responsibility for identifying, monitoring and punishing people who illegally download content, most Australian consumers fear they will face higher internet bills.
More consumers favour market-based remedies to combat illegal downloading, as opposed to regulatory or legislative measures, the report found, while Australians believe they are paying 200 per cent more than the “optimal price” for downloaded television episodes.
“This research comes as the government considers responses to its discussion paper on online copyright policy options,” Communications Alliance CEO John Stanton stated.
“It paints a picture not of a nation of rampant pirates, but rather a majority of people who agree that action taken should include steps to reduce the market distortions that contribute to piracy.”
While 55 per cent of Australians agree that illegal downloads are a problem in Australia – with content creators the hardest hit – 66 per cent believe that if content distributors “offered cheaper, fairer pricing, people would not download illegally”.
Sixty per cent of respondents believe that if content was made available at the same time as it is elsewhere this would also help stem illegal downloads, with 79 per cent stating there needs to be continuous improvement in the availability and cost of online content for Australian consumers.
A pricing sensitivity model derived from survey responses has indicated that in respondents’ minds the ideal price for a downloaded television episode is in the range of $1.20 to $1.70, compared with the current local HD download per-episode price of $3.49, the report found.
Stanton stated there is “a strong alignment” in many of the viewpoints of those surveyed and the major ISP members of Communications Alliance.
“ISPs do not condone or authorise online copyright infringement, nor accept that concerns over pricing are a justification for improper behaviour,” he commented. “ISPs are committed to finding equitable and practical approaches to combat it, preferably in cooperation with rights holders.”
Stanton added the Communications Alliance has “stressed the need for a multifaceted approach to online copyright infringement – a scenario in which all stakeholders have a constructive role to play” in submissions to government on these issues.
“For our part, this has included moving toward a cooperative ‘follow-the-money’ strategy designed to restrict the advertising revenues flowing to websites that promote or facilitate online copyright infringement,” he commented.
The report additionally found 62 per cent of respondents support the creation of an educational program, with ISPs sending up to three notices to alleged infringers, while 60 per cent agree that rights holders should reimburse “reasonable costs” of ISPs that assist them in fighting piracy.
The report, undertaken by JWS Research, included a national online survey of 1,500 respondents, conducted between October 22 and 27 this year.