Everybody knew it. Now the government does to. Yes, research has shown that Australia has high levels of online copyright infringement and this reinforces the need for international and industry cooperation to address piracy.
A release from Minister for Communications Malcolm Turnbull's office focuses on new research conducted conducted by the Australian and United Kingdom Governments between March and May this year to measure online copyright infringement across different content types.
The Australian research closely modelled on the UK approach, which has been running since 2012. The Australian survey carried out 2630 interviews and found nearly half (43 per cent) of Australians who had consumed digital content in the period surveyed had consumed at least one of those files illegally, compared to only a fifth in the UK.
The UK survey identified an increase in the take up of legal services since 2013.
According to the survey, 48 per cent of survey respondents consumed movies illegally (their wording) at least once in the last three months; 37 per cent consumed music illegally, another 33 per cent consumed TV programs illegally, while video games came in at 22 per cent.
The Minister said in the statement that the results highlight the importance of international collaboration to help understand the reasons for online copyright infringement, establish benchmarks, and share solutions.
The results also underscore the importance of governments working with industry to address infringement issues, and that a range of measures are needed to properly tackle the problem.
The Australian survey found people would likely stop infringing if legal content was: cheaper (39 per cent), more available (38 per cent), and had the same release date as other countries (36 per cent). 43 per cent of internet users stated that they were not confident of what is legal online content.
Recent amendments to the Copyright Act 1968, which enable the blocking of infringing overseas websites, and complement the Copyright Notice Scheme Industry Code that is currently being developed by both rights holders and internet service providers, are part of the solution.
However, the statement noted that rights holders' most powerful tool to combat online copyright infringement is making content accessible, timely and affordable to consumers.
Improvements in the affordability and ready availability of online content in Australia are crucial ingredients to reduce online copyright infringement, according to industry body, Communications Alliance, in a response to the new research..
Welcoming the research initiative, Communications Alliance CEO, John Stanton, said it pointed to the need for heightened efforts by rights holders to make legal online content available to Australian internet users in a timely and affordable way, as part of an integrated strategy to minimise online infringement.
Stanton noted that only 21 per cent of infringers said they would be encouraged to stop infringing if they received a letter from their ISP saying their account would be suspended.
"These results suggest that while there is a role for a copyright notice scheme Code in Australia to assist in fighting infringement, more work needs to be done to make legal content more affordable and more available, to combat the root causes of infringing activity." he said.
"It is interesting that almost three-quarters of those Internet users who consumed content illegally were also accessing content legally -- they were apparently not just looking exclusively for a 'free ride', but also were chasing the convenience that comes with ready availability of content."
The Australian survey was commissioned by the Department of Communications and was undertaken by Taylor Nelson Sofries (TNS) Australia.
It was conducted between March 25 and April 13, 2015, with Australian consumers of digital content aged 12 and over, through a mix of online and phone interviews. The Australian survey was tailored to measure online copyright infringement across four core content types: movies, music, television programmes and video games. The UK surveyed six content types, which also included PC software and e-books.