Government Report: Cease-And-Desist Letters Won’t Stop Piracy

Government Report: Cease-And-Desist Letters Won’t Stop Piracy

Would you freak out if you received a piracy warning letter? Apparently, most Aussies don’t seem to care. A new national survey released by the Federal Government has ranked infringement notices as the least effective method of preventing illegal downloads. Only 20 per cent of respondents said they would stop pirating if they received a cease-and-desist letter from their ISP; even if they were threatened with an account suspension.

Piracy picture from Shutterstock

The report, prepared for the Department of Communications by research firm TNS Global, reveals the attitudes and prevalence of piracy among Australian internet users aged over 12. Respondents answered a survey relating to their internet activity from the three months of January to March this year.

Interestingly, the report found that most Aussie internet pirates aren’t particularly worried about the prospect of receiving a letter in the post, which is one of the key initiatives of the government’s proposed piracy notice scheme. From the report:

Approximately 2 in 10 stated they would be impacted by the threat of receiving a letter from their ISP: 21% would be encouraged to stop infringing if they received a letter saying their account would be suspended, 17% if the letter indicated their account had been used to infringe and 17% if the letter said their internet speed would be restricted.

Meanwhile, a reduction in the cost of legal content was the most commonly cited factor that would encourage people to stop infringing (39%), followed by legal content being more available (38%) and being available as soon as it is released elsewhere (36%). No surprises there.

Consumer watchdog CHOICE has picked up on these findings as proof that the industry-run piracy notice scheme currently being pushed by the Federal Government is destined to fail.

“This flies in the face of the current industry plan to send “education notices” to internet users who have allegedly pirated content,” CHOICE said in a statement. “We have to ask why is the industry so keen to pursue this scheme when the research shows there are easier, better options available?”

We’d wager that the huge number of copyright infringements in this country probably has something to do with it. According to the report’s findings, more than a quarter of all Australian internet users knowingly pirated a movie, song, TV show or video game in the first quarter of this year. That’s a lot of pirates.

In short, copyright holders need to try something, and they’re naturally going to prefer a method that doesn’t require them to tear up existing business models or invest huge amounts of money.

In any event, we suspect that the results of the poll may have been skewed by respondent bravado. It’s all well and good to say an infringement notice wouldn’t stop you from pirating but we imagine the reality would be quite different when faced with an actual warning letter. What do you guys think? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Online Copyright Infringement Research: A Marketing Research Report [Department of Communications]


  • Next question which will be answered through Government action/inaction:

    Does Government commission reports and then act on the findings, or does Government commission reports to supply findings that are in line with their existing policies?

    I think we all know the answer to this, already.

  • “According to the report’s findings, almost 50% of Australian internet users have knowingly pirated…”

    Actually, the 47% figure refers to Australian internet users who access online digital content. The report states that only a quarter (26%) of Australian internet users have pirated content.

  • What I don’t see answered is why did the Government commission this report ?
    Maybe I’m too sceptical, but to me, this is the building block for introducing more heavy handed enforcement, because this report proves people will ignore polite threats.

    If nothing else, it’s great ammunition for the media groups, who can now lobby for bigger fines, convictions and jail time.

    EDIT: NVM, the reasons why are broadly outlined in 2.1 Background

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