Pirates pay for content, Choice survey finds

Survey by consumer group comes as government prepares to reveal copyright enforcement proposals

People who engage in regular unauthorised downloading of copyright material are also more likely to pay for online and offline content than Australians who don't engage in piracy, according to a new survey by consumer advocacy group Choice.

People who tend to download copyright material every month are more likely to pay for content through iTunes or an Apple TV subscription compared to non-pirates, the survey revealed.

"People who illegally download content are more likely to have a Quickflix account than the average Australian, and they are significantly more likely to pay to see a movie at the cinema," Choice campaigns director Matt Levey said in a statement.

"The report sheds new light on the reasons why Australians pirate film and TV. A substantial proportion of people are pirating because of the high cost of content in Australia, and the time differences between releases here and overseas," Levey said.

One third of Australians have pirated content, and 23 per cent engage in unauthorised downloading or streaming on at least a monthly basis, the survey found.

Price was the most common reason people pirated, according to the survey. Half of those who indicated they had conducted unauthorised downloading or streaming cited price as a reason; 41 per cent cited the timeliness of content being available in Australia as a reason and 28 per cent cited convenience. Not wanting to pay for content was cited by 17 per cent of pirates.

Source: Choice Digital Consumers – paying for content behaviour & attitudes November 2014

Fifty five per cent of all people surveyed said they would first attempt to use legal sources, such as iTunes, when looking for content. Among the survey sample who confessed to regularly pirating, this dropped to 43 per cent.

The survey was conducted in late October and early November by polling firm iView on behalf of Choice.

A survey commissioned by telco industry group Communications Alliance, the results of which were released last month, found that most Australians believe any crackdown on piracy will fail and that making content available more easily through legal channels is key to reducing online copyright violations.

The report from Choice comes as Attorney-General George Brandis and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull reportedly prepare to present proposals for copyright enforcement reform to the Coalition cabinet.

Fairfax Media reported that a joint cabinet submission by the ministers pushes for a website-blocking scheme along the lines of the one previously mooted in the government's copyright enforcement discussion paper.

The report also said that the ministers would push for content industries and ISPs to work on a code that will be registered Australian Communications and Media Authority. Under the code, alleged pirates would be sent warning notices.

Who would pay for implementing and maintaining such a scheme has previously been a source of conflicts between rights holders and ISPs.

A proposal included in the discussion paper to extend authorisation liability for ISPs will be dropped.

Follow Rohan on Twitter: @rohan_p

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