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.