Australians are illegally downloading or streaming film and TV content more frequently than ever, according to a new study.
In another worrying trend for content owners, piracy has become an entrenched habit for the majority of 18-to-24 year-olds.
Even more ominously, the percentage of adults who agree that downloading or streaming pirated content is theft has fallen for the third straight year.
Commissioned by the IP Awareness Foundation (IPAF), the national online quantitative study was conducted by Sycamore Research and Newspoll, surveying 1,800 Australians aged 12-64 from June to August 2014.
The survey showed 29% of adults admit to being active pirates, compared with 25% in 2013. Of the most active, 55% are downloading pirated movies weekly, an increase of 20% since last year.
Releasing the findings at the Australian International Movie Convention today, IPAF executive director Lori Flekser told IF, “The really frightening thing is that piracy is now the norm among 18-to-24 year- olds. Our qualitative research shows they pirate because it is free, they don’t want to pay and no one is stopping them. Young people are losing the ability to recognise the value of content.”
Flekser contends that a combination of legislation and education, the latter including parents refraining from piracy and discouraging their kids from so doing, is needed to change these habits.
Content owners have been lobbying the government to require ISPs to block piracy web sites and to issue three written warnings to users who flagrantly download content illegally, after which their broadband service would be slowed.
“Our research reinforces the urgency for a clear legislative framework that guides online behaviours and restricts access to unauthorised or unlicensed content,” she said.
Many distributors contend the 120-day holdback between theatrical launch and home entertainment is outdated, forcing consumers to wait far too long to legally rent or buy films online.
Flekser did not address that issue but pointed out that piracy of TV shows is rife despite the express-from-the US policy of Foxtel and, on occasions, the free-to-air broadcasters.
The study shows 14% of 12-13 year-olds pirate film and TV shows, rising to 36% of 16-17 year-olds and 54% of 18-24s.
Some 64% of adults agree that streaming or downloading pirated content is stealing, down from 67% in 2013 and 71% in 2012.
According to the survey 60% of Australian adults and 66% of Australians aged 12-17 say they have never downloaded or streamed pirated content.
Unsurprisingly, 73% of those who would choose piracy as their preferred option for watching a new release movie say that if the pirated version was not available, they would go the cinema (23%) or wait for the film to be available online or on DVD/Blu-ray (50%).
Parental influence is a key factor. In households where parents are pirating, the children appear likely to do so as, and 85% of kids who don’t pirate say their parents have spoken to them about piracy.
Flekser added: “IP Awareness supports the notion that we all share the responsibility. Industry, government, online businesses, parents, schools, individuals and communities all have a role to play to ensure that the creative industries remain viable and sustainable.”
More than 600 respondents aged 12-17 and almost 1200 respondents aged 18-64 participated nationally in the study. The research was conducted online with national coverage, anonymous participation and up-weighted to ABS data to be representative of the total population.