The most logical explanation for this finding is that “pirates” are more engaged than those who don’t share, and that they complement their legal purchases with unauthorized downloads.
However, new research from Australia suggests that there’s another factor that should be taken into account. Pirates simply have more money to spend.
An extensive survey commissioned by the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) and several other copyright groups shows that those who download illegally earn more money than those who don’t. The study asked 1,000 adults about their downloading habits, and 21 percent admitted to being a pirate.
Looking at the demographic trends the research found that 30 percent of the people who live in households that earn more than 100,000 Australian dollars per year are self-confessed pirates. This is well above the country average, and also a much higher percentage than lower incomes.
In general, the higher a person’s income the more likely it is that he or she engages in unauthorized file-sharing.
Related to the income trends, the survey also found that file-sharers are better educated. People who enjoyed higher education are over-represented and 25 percent of all pirates had a university education, again, well above the country average.
The survey further showed that pirates tend to live in metropolitan rather than rural areas, and that they are relatively young. Of all adult file-sharers 44 percent are under 30, while only 11 percent fall into the 50-69 age group.
Unexpectedly, TV-shows and series are among the content most downloaded down under. This confirms what we’ve shown before, that Australia can be considered the piracy capital of the world, especially for TV content.
While the results are interesting, especially with regard to income distribution, people can draw different conclusions from the data.
The entertainment industry will probably make the case that pirates are so rich because they’re not paying for a lot of their media. The pirates on the other hand, might argue that pirating makes people smarter. Whatever the case, there will be no consensus between the two camps.