It’s Official: Australian Movie Piracy Is On The Wane

It’s Official: Australian Movie Piracy Is On The Wane

Put it down to the /”Netflix effect”. Or the Dallas Buyer’s Club decision. Or maybe Australia’s data retention laws (which has nothing to do with catching pirates — yet.) Whatever the reason, online piracy has dropped significantly in Australia for the first time in years. That rousing “yo ho-ho!” you just heard came from rights holders around the country.

Pirate skull image from Shutterstock

According to new data released by the IP Awareness Foundation, Australia’s love affair with online piracy is on the decline. Its most recent survey revealed that 25 percent of Australian adults aged 18-64 are active pirates, down from 29 percent in the previous year.

The fall occurred across both “casual” and “persistent” pirates, with the latter receiving the biggest drop overall. You can see the results in the below graph:

While a four per cent drop might not look massive on paper, it follows years of nothing but dramatic growth. In this context, even staying stagnant would have to be seen as a victory.

This is the second national survey in as many months to reveal a reduction in Australian piracy numbers. In September, a poll conducted by Choice found the number of people illegally downloading film and TV shows has dipped from 23 per cent to 17 per cent.

What is interesting about these two polls are the disparate organisations behind them. Choice is a consumer advocacy group that is very much against stricter piracy laws, whereas the IP Awareness Foundation’s stakeholders include cinemas, film distributors and broadcasters. In other words, despite being on opposite sides of the debate, their results are quite similar. Hmm.

So why the drop? The IP Awareness Foundation attributes this sudden reversal to a range of factors, including the government’s impending anti-piracy code and the launch of affordable streaming services such as Netflix. From the organisation’s director, Lori Flekse:

“This fall in piracy rates is definitely largely attributable to the combination of the government’s new legislation, plus the ongoing efforts of the creative industries to continue delivering great content at accessible prices to Australian consumers and the work being done to educate consumers about the impact of copyright theft.”

Naturally, Netflix has been quick to champion itself as a slayer of online piracy, but we need to be cautious of drawing definitive links here. As we’ve noted in the past, any survey relating to illegal activity (or activities deemed to be illegal) must be taken with a grain of salt. Simply put, when a stranger calls you out of the blue and asks about your piracy habits, the temptation to lie is rather high.

With that said, the timing of the piracy drop certainly seems to suggest that cause and effect might be at play here. Anecdotally, a large number of my friends and associates have weaned themselves off torrent sites after signing up to legal alternatives. For most of them, it’s not even about “doing the right thing” — it’s just easier to plonk down in front of the telly and fire up Netflix/Presto/Stan.

This seems to be supported by the IP Awareness Foundation’s survey. 33% of “reformed” pirates identified legal alternatives as the main reason for stopping, followed by moral considerations (21%), self interest (16%) and no longer having time (13%).

In an amusing parallel to real-life 18th century piracy, those who refuse to adapt to the changing tides are apparently pirating more than ever. According to the report, persistent pirates “continue to maintain high levels of frequency with 40% claiming to be pirating more than they did 12 months ago.”

Whether you believe these statistics are accurate or not, there can be little doubt that the growth of piracy is being sorely tested. With tough new anti-piracy laws on the horizon and legal alternatives becoming cheaper and more accessible, it seems that the Golden Age of online piracy could already be behind us. It was good while it lasted, mateys.

[Via Torrent Freak]


  • the way i see it the casual drop would be those who are now too scared to pirate because of the legislation and the drop in persistent pirates is because theres finally a decently priced legit option in the country, something pirates have been saying forever

    guaranteed that muppet running village will put out something soon saying its 100% the legislation and his stick method is a winner so movies will now cost $1 more so he can buy a bigger stick

  • Who would of thought that having easy access to cheap quality streaming would ever in a million years curb piracy. I mean come on, how much of an insane idea is it that offering people what they have been screaming for for years would actually work?

  • Persoinally for me it’s 100% the Netflix effect.
    Now I have Netflix, I have also this content available in seconds; it’s all labelled right (i.e. the movie is called ‘Movie’, not ‘Movie-2014-BDRip-TeamRIP’), even has nice pictures and plot synopsis, auto plays the next ep for tv shows.
    Now when I consider pirating something because it isn’t on Netflix I dread having to find a decent torrent with seeds, waiting for it to download, checking it’s actually decent, let alone the correct film, and then renaming and organising it into my movies folder, then playing it. If only it were on Netflix…

    \As for the Dallas Buyers Club, and the government legislation going through; that didn’t put me off pirating whatsoever, and honestly made me look at rights holders as just greedy and made me want to pirate their stuff just to stick it to them. I’m sure the DBC decision and government policies have encouraged others to not pirate, but for me it was the opposite effect.

    • One percenters get their own graph where everything is free.

      But yeah, the grey portion should be 75%.

  • Are there figures that show VPN usage during that time? I wouldn’t mind betting that the drop is because they just can’t see who’s pirating any more!

  • I saw something a day or so ago saying the exact opposite… so I dunno what to believe.

    In saying that; personally I have pretty well stopped any sort of pirating activity since I got Netflix. There is plenty to watch and if something is new I can wait for it. Its a real shift in attitude; but then again I have always said it was the ease of fairly priced access so I guess it makes sense.

    • Same here. From memory the story was isolated to a specific group, namely those indifferent to the penalties, and openly stating they’ll continue to pirate regardless.

      In other words, that portion of society thats always looking for a free ride. Same people that would copy borrowed VHS, or sneak into the cinema/drivein in eras past. Story was basically saying those numbers hadnt changed.

      Take them out of things, they will always be there, and the ones that will never pirate, and what you have left are those that can be influenced. THAT group is on its way down.

      • Right, that seems like an altogether useless survey then 😛

        You can’t eliminate this sort of thing but I think the majority are more than willing to pay for something if its fairly priced and easily available. So that should at least open some people’s eyes I hope.

    • I believe some Newscorp sites had a story on this exact same survey, claiming that it showed Netflix wasn’t having and effect as the number was so small.

  • Maybe because most movies are boring?
    I’ve only seen like 2 films in cinemas in the past 5 years as well

  • Maybe it’s not just Netflix’s huge range of show to watch but also free to air finally showing us almost as soon as they are released overseas especially those from the US and in some cases the UK. There are a number of fairly new shows on free to air now that are finally being broadcast here even before I’m able to access the torrents for the shows so why bother downloading them. Finally the networks are serving their customers like they should not holding on to the shows for months (or heaven forbid the old days when they’d even wait a year or two before screening them) and actually brodcasting them ASAP

  • I think you’ll find if you do some data analysis across multiple surveys there are peaks and troughs which correspond exactly to game of thrones seasons, these particular surveys represent a trough between seasons.

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