Study Says We Download Because It's Free

Sure, "duh", but people who regularly download movies, music and TV shows do often have other excuses to hand. A survey by the Intellectual Property Awareness Foundation (IPAF) found that 78 per cent of people prefer downloading because it's cost-free. I don't entirely disagree, but there is one crucial aspect the survey didn't even address.

IPAF commissioned a survey from Scamore Research of 1,654 Australians aged 18-64 (weighted to population distribution) to examine attitudes to illegal downloading. One point to note up front: 63 per cent of those surveyed say they don't download torrents or watch unlicensed or region-blocked streaming content. Of course, they could be lying about that. Amongst those who did participate in that illegal behaviour, key findings were:

  • 78 per cent said the lack of a cost was the main reason for downloading
  • Downloading torrents was twice as popular as watching non-legitimate streaming content.
  • 46 per cent of people think they are personally most responsible for their downloading behaviour. Just 16 per cent think ISPs should be most responsible for preventing illegal behaviour.
  • 55 per cent of downloaders say they have done so more often in the last 12 months. 28 per cent are about the same, and 39 per cent say their downloads have reduced
  • .

What's entirely missing from the research, though, is the acknowledgement of an important related fact: we're still stuck with idiotic regional restrictions. If you're itching for a new episode of Game Of Thrones, it doesn't help when it becomes legally available in the US but is blocked in Australia. People who would (at least in theory) happily pay for a legal movie or TV download or watch an ad-supported stream still don't have the option. And that's before we address different pricing models for different markets.

Offering more legal options is a great start, but it's only when those become global options that we're likely to see a reduction in downloading. And we'll never see zero: plenty of people will keep downloading purely because it's cheap. The survey itself highlights the "it's not my concern" attitude: 71 per cent agree that piracy is theft, but 76 per cent don't think they contribute to the problem. I think it's going to take more than skewed awareness surveys and annoying pre-movie trailers to change that.



    Exactly, for me its all about convenience, i like to be able to watch the shows when i have the time, not when some idiot tells me i have to watch it.
    But that being said its a double edged sword, so many of the show's i watch religiously get cancelled before they even reach australian shores due to low ratings (Largley due to downloads via non legit sources) but dumb shit like master chef and dancing with the stars manages to go on forever.
    I'd happily pay for TV instead of downloading if it was made available to me when aired, or when i have time to watch it, things like foxtel are getting better but at the same time they still are hamstrung by region restrictions.

    I love Piracy!

    It's not just that it's cheap - it's also easy.

    Compare it to other situations. Lifehacker is often all about doing things cheaply, but at significantly more personal effort. So people aren't flocking to every single cheap solution. With bittorrent downloads, it's not JUST cheap - it's also easy (you can watch it later, no buffering, no ads, you can put it on any device you like, etc).

    If legitimate methods want to be popular, they don't just have to be cheap - they have to be easy. Maybe if they're easy enough, they wouldn't even need to be all that cheap...

    I think free is being a bit generous. As much as iiNet won their recent case, ISP's must love downloading, because it pushes people to pay more for higher usage plans.

    1. This research was driven by a vested interest ("IPAF is an initiative of the Australian film and television community aimed at promoting the benefits of screen copyright and the legal accessing of film and television content. ")

    2. The so called 'research' is by online newspoll. That is not research, not reliable and not controlled. Not to mention, there is no mention of methodology to get an accurate set of results.

    3. The questions or statements don't appear to be well worded or controlled in any way. They seem to be written with a particular bias to elicit

    This is an organisation with a vested interest, and are essentially a lobby group.

    Note this quote: "IPAF shares the results of this research with the wider community to better inform the debate, dispel myths and motivate changes in behaviour."

    Reading into that - IPAF is motivated to dispel the 'myth' that people will pay for content if it is actually reasonably priced which is untrue. What IPAF appear to be trying to achieve, is to lobby the government to employ draconian legislation to give them and the AFACT more power. That is the real story in this research, not the above flawed data. Basically the AFACT are trying to promote legislation which allows them to sell content in anticompetitive manners, and limit the content distributional to what is a rather questionable model.

    Basically these groups want to charge ridiculous prices for content via internet delivery when there is no delivery or manufacturing costs. They are paying for some servers. They are not paying for a satellite or cable network (pay tv for example). They are not paying for media. Yet the likes of itunes still wants to charge on a per episode basis ($4 for HD) and completely resist any move to a workable model. If you had a service that was $20-40 a month, had access to ALL content in HD and was free of DRM or restrictions in the use of the content - then you would more than likely get a different answer AND have a successful business model. As it stands,the media companies are trying to charge non market rates for content acting no different to a monopoly.

    This is all part of a resistance by the media distribution companies to work towards an online model, where content prices drop, to match the drop in delivery and manufacturing costs which is making these companies a killing right now. Not only that, they are setting up these propaganda sites to lobby the government into creating legislation which backs their business model.

    The irony is that torrents and usenet (ignoring the cost side) still has less content restrictions, more content than any single online paid provider, often better quality and support for automated downloading and content management to match a user's storage preferences (sick beard anyone?).

    Want to see their real agenda - look at their online campaigns:

    Please note the incredible academic dishonesty at labelling online survey's as research - basically confusing their propaganda with properly controlled, respectable research.

      Just found under contact details - they support the AFACT.

        Sickbeard/Couch Potato/Headphones -> SABnzbd+ -> Plex Media Server -> All my devices = WIN!

        (Might seem like a heap of work but its no more than a couple of hours setting up the backend and installing clients, then it is sooooooo easy!)

    Just look at who their CEO is...

    Gail Grant - the very same person who has been marketing director at 20th Century Fox and Sony Pictures Entertainment.

    Angus - there is the real story for you and how these organisations are trying to hamper the online distribution model which SHOULD benefit users, and make our lives easier online. Maybe they could be called the anti-lifehackers?

    We're nearing two whole generations that have grown up with completely free ad-supported TV. The presence of ads is something that annoys most people - I don't know many people who realise ads are the reason they can watch for free in the first place. Rather, they are whined about constantly. Give something away for long enough and your market gets the message it is worthless. Personally, I love the convenience. Rather than having to stuff around with a cupboard full of tapes/ dvds like I used to i just open the browser on my htpc and within 2 mins most times I'm watching what I want without needing to get off my butt.

    The question (at least the one in the image) is designed to illicit a specific response. Pirating video or audio has nothing to do with the price of your internet connection... The ISP doesn't provide movies or TV shows.
    The question should be more along the lines of "Should I pay for movies and TV shows that are available for free on normal TV?" or "If there was a better, quicker, more efficient online distribution method, would you pay for it?"

      Correct - you only need to look at the popularity of file download sites before megaupload was taken down and usenet to see that people will pay for a quality delivery service

    despite higher quota, theres no point if the internet speed doesn't increase. You can offer unlimited to a guy that only has 800kbps and he'll never get close to using it up. Whats with these regional restrictions?

    Here's the deal.
    I go to JB-HIFI and buy the latest BluRay movie $40 + time and petrol.
    I bring it home and rip it to my hard disk and convert it to an MKV $0 + time
    I then put it on my NAS box for easy retrieval. I now have to store the damn case/bluray somewhere.
    ... OR I can use iTunes and get a copy that looks like crap on my 3.5m wide screen (what's 1080p??) and only plays on an Apple box and is overpriced. I'd rather the real media thanks...
    ... OR I can continue to lobby the film industry to release decently priced movies (you know, like MegaUpload was going to provide - just as it was shut down by ... hmmm)
    ... OR I can just pirate it because noone wants to provide me with what I can ge t elsewhere.
    MOST people are happy to pay - but most companies only want to provide goods on THEIR draconian, outdated terms. "Go somewhere else" is the business catch cry.... So I did. Now they don't make ANY money from me.

    This isn't about piracy, it's about an outdated business model from a backward thinking industry whose sole aim is to screw and sue as many people as they can so they don't need to innovate. Note to the Industry -> please, hurry up and die ... just like the buggy whips industry did.

    James 2nd

    I've just signed up for FetchTV, not a huge amountof channels yet, but it's grown steadily from when it first started. Other than that, region bullsh!t is the main reason I download shows. If it's just aired in the States, then I want to see it closer to now, not in six months time and at a time that is chosen by some marketing nonce because it maximises some ad revenue, but is inconvenient for me.

    I have no qualms paying for content, I spend at least 50 bucks on iTunes content a week. What I cant abide is content creators distributors forbidding me from buying something. I take what the 'man' says I cant buy...

    Riduiculous pricing + ridiculous restrictions means downloading for free wins every time. Take for example Google's movie offerings on the Play store. They're asking me to hand over $7 just to rent a HD movie, which then comes with this ridiculous time restriction whereby I must finish watching it 48 hours after starting. WHY???? I have young children and my wife and I sometimes only get half an hour in an evening to watch part of a movie. We may take some days, or even over multiple weekends, to get through it. This would simply not be possible on Google's (and Apple's) stupid terms. Lower the price to $2 and allow me to watch it whenever I want over the 30 day period and I'll give it a go. Until then, sod off.

    I'd say convience is a much bigger reason for downloading.

    I just spent a good week trying to rip seaons 5 & 6 of Doctor Who off my Blu-Ray disks. Would have taken less time and effort to download it.

    I'm still waiting for ITunes OZ to start providing Eureka season 5, but in the mean time, I've added to my queue and am happly watching it.

    On demand, on time, no shit or politics.

    My wife is Thai. She likes Thai TV shows, and Thai movies.
    Some TV she can get from Youtube. I have yet to see a single Thai movie DVD [legitimate] for sale in Australia.

    Why not profit, like iTunes? You know - downloading your own data through the "cloud". Paying to transfer data, instead of syncing for free at home. Egad, the ISP's must LOVE iTunes Match! I'm surprised the music companies aren't buying ISP's to collect the revenue.

    I spend a lot of time living outside Australia. Practical availability of Australian TV shows and music? Effectively nil. We're even worse with regional restrictions than the northern hemisphere folks.

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