Four out of five people who download screen content illegally feel nervous or guilty about their behaviour and acknowledge they are doing the wrong thing.

Only 20% of pirates dismiss the legality or ethics of the practice and say they are determined to continue despite any attempted government interventions.

That’s according to a ground-breaking survey commissioned by ScreenFutures, a new association of producers, directors, distributors and researchers dedicated to researching and debating issues affecting the Australian screen industry.

Their report, Content You Love: reframing piracy for a sustainable creative industry, was launched at AFTRS on August 13.

Market researcher Screen Audience Research Australia (SARA) conducted the survey which found about 33% of people had illegally downloaded movies and TV shows.

SARA then interviewed more than 900 people across the age spectrum who acknowledged they had pirated content to gauge their attitudes and motivations.

The chief attraction was that ‘it’s free’ (20 per cent) while others said they didn’t want to wait for legal releases (18 per cent), the shows they wanted weren’t legally available in Australia (16 per cent) or because it was quick and easy (16 per cent). Just 10 per cent said legal shows were too expensive.

Of those surveyed 20 per cent were dubbed the Outraged Outlaws because they were not worried about the legality or ethics of pirating or its effects on content creators.

The so-called Conscious Cowboys (31 per cent) recognised the questionable ethics and illegality of their behaviour but felt they were forced into it by the problems of access and pricing. They would modify their behaviour, they said, if the content they wanted were more readily available.

The Anxious Addicts (24%) said they loved content and felt guilty about downloading it without paying, They worried about the prospect of fines and acknowledged the arguments of anti-piracy campaigners – especially the damage to industry.

Finally, there were the Nervous Newcomers (19 per cent) who were new to piracy, apprehensive and said they doing it mainly because other people were;  they too were sensitive to the arguments and open to changing their behaviour.

The report says, “The data shows that people who download without paying are often genuine fans who readily pay for content at other times.

“It may be a form of theft but it is also a form of backhanded customer feedback. What audiences are telling creators through their actions is that content delivery is too slow, too expensive, too complicated.

“We as leaders within the content industries believe it is up to us to seek a solution – to win back the hearts and minds. We see this report and the launch of ScreenFutures as the time to begin a conversation with audiences about the problems.”

SARA CEO Peter Drinkwater said, “This is the first ever attitudinal segmentation of pirates in Australia. The intervention required is not ‘one size fits all,’ and ScreenFutures has recognised that different segments need different strategies to change their behaviour.”

The founding members include Chloe Rickard, Imogen Banks, Bridget Callow-Wright, Ester Harding, Peter Drinkwater, Duncan Imberger, Paul Wiegard, Annie Parnell, John L Simpson, Abigail Tabone and Galvin Scott Davis.

Harding tells IF the group plans to liaise with government, Screen Australia, distributors, producers and other bodies on a range of issues affecting the screen industry, including potential threats to local content quotas. 

"We are offering our services as communicators across the board," she says. "One of the things we want to do is engage directly  with government to try to make the conversation about copyright infringement less angry.

"As content creators we want to try to bring all sides together. We all share the same love of content." 

The report’s findings are broadly similar to research commissioned by the IP Awareness Foundation (IPAF) last year, which showed 29 per cent of adults admit to being active pirates, compared with 25 per cent in 2013.

Some 64 per cent of adults in that survey agreed that streaming or downloading pirated content is stealing.

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