news Creative Content Australia (CCA) – a film and TV industry advocacy group – has aired concerns over a new draft report from the Productivity Commission that suggests making content more accessible will reduce online piracy.
CCA said that, on initial reading, the near 600-page draft report on Intellectual Property Arrangements throws up some “immediate concerns” about how these recommendations would affect consumers, content creators and the development of a sustainable digital economy in Australia.
Of particular issue is the suggestion that more accessible content is the key to reducing online copyright infringement, rather than increasing enforcement efforts or penalties.
“We know this to be untrue,” said Lori Flekser, Executive Director at CCA.
Flekser said that annual independent research commissioned by CCA since 2008 has “consistently and unequivocally reflected the key reason for piracy: because it’s free”.
She added that her organisation’s finding reflects international research, as well as an Australian Government study in 2015, where 55% of respondents confirmed that they downloaded or streamed infringing content because “it’s free”.
Flekser suggested that, despite the increase in legal content-providing services in Australia and a reduction in the cost of content, it is the awareness of legal initiatives such as the Copyright Infringement Bill 2015, rather than the availability of content, that is the main reason for people abstaining from copyright infringement.
CCA backed up that statement with the statistic that the awareness of legal initiatives was cited by 53% of “pirates” who have stopped or reduced their activity (GfK Retail Tracking and ConsumerScope study 2015).
The organisation also provided the example of the first episode of Game of Thrones Season 6, which premiered on April 25 in Australia, saying it was made available at a “reasonable cost” and at the same time as the rest of the world.
Despite that, illegal downloads of the show from Australian visitors topped the charts at the BitTorrent peer-to-peer file sharing site – reaching 12.5% of the total in the 12 hours after its official airing.
“I consider the cost – around the cost of two or three cups of coffee – a fair price to pay for an hour of this popular culture phenomenon, which costs in excess of US$6 million per episode to make,” said Flekser.
“Access and price are not viable arguments in this case, yet more than 100,000 Australians chose illegal websites to watch episode 1 of Game of Thrones Season 6,” she added.
Further, according to CCA, evidence shows that film piracy peaks when DVD, Blu-ray and SVOD versions are released and that it isn’t only the international industry that is affected – Australian film Mad Max: Fury Road was illegally downloaded 36.6 million times in 2015.
CCA argued that strong copyright laws “ensure the vibrancy and growth of the creative sector which in turn contributes to the economy, provides growth and stimulates local culture”.
“Copyright facilitates innovation rather than hindering it,” it concluded.
According to its mission statement, Creative Content Australia (previously the IP Awareness Foundation) is the film and television industries’ peak body for the promotion of copyright, creative rights, piracy research and education resources.