Over the past few years Australia has been labeled one of the world’s hotspots when it comes to online piracy, with movie and TV show companies criticizing the public for obtaining content without paying for it.
Countering, Australians have complained fiercely about being treated as second-class consumers, with products often appearing months after their debut in other territories. There are signs that entertainment companies are beginning to listen, but piracy will probably be a difficult habit to break in the short term.
A new study published today claims that not only are the numbers of pirates increasing, but they’re also pirating more frequently.
Commissioned by the IP Awareness Foundation which counts the MPA, Foxtel and other key industry players among its members, the study found that 29% of Aussie adults aged between 18-64 are regular or occasional pirates, up from 25% last year.
The anonymous study also reveals some interesting trends as teens progress towards adulthood. In the 12 to 13 year-old group active pirates made up 14% of respondents but just a year later this doubles. Among 14 to 15 year-olds, active pirates increased to 29%.
By the ages of 16 and 17 this figure had grown even further to 36%.
It’s clear that the industry would like to have the older generation influence its children to download less or not at all and the study suggests that parental influence carries the most weight with teens.
Overall, 67% of respondents said it is their parents who provide the most guidance on how to behave online, with 19% citing schools and teachers. Interestingly, just 7% mentioned peers as an influence with 1% or less mentioning the government.
However, while parents appear to carry the most influence, the perils of illegal downloading aren’t at the top of their concerns. Not releasing personal details online was the most discussed topic, followed by virus and malware, unsuitable (18+) websites and care over financial details.
Although the topic of illegal downloading was last on the list overall, those who don’t pirate said their parents discussed the subject more than those who pirate regularly.
Whether the parental discussions over malware paid off isn’t clear, but 63% of teen pirates said they were aware that ads on pirate sites could contain malicious software. But while aware of the risks, most had experienced no problems, with just 13% claiming an infection when downloading movies or TV shows or clicking ads on a pirate site.
Perhaps of most interest is the finding that teen pirates engage in legal media consumption habits at similar or improved levels to their illegal ones. Furthermore, teens who don’t pirate appear to consume less content legally than their pirating counterparts.
For instance, while around 35% of active downloaders obtain a movie from the Internet at least once each month without paying, 38% also rent a movie or TV show legally. Among non-pirates, this figure is just 27%.
Equally, while 37% of pirates admit to illegally streaming content at least once a month, 69% pay to see movies at the cinema. Among the non-pirates, the figure is just 49%.
The findings also show that pirates are more engaged when it comes to consuming legal media online digitally. Some 46% of teen pirates said they download movies and TV shows from services such as iTunes each month while among non-pirates the figure is just 29%.
In respect of finding illegal content, just two main methods are cited by the teen respondents. A total of 59% said they go directly to their favorite sites to find movies and TV shows, while 22% said they used a search engine such as Google or Bing.
The study concludes by suggesting that anti-piracy education should be focused on the younger generation, to educate children before they reach 13 years-old when peer pressure kicks in and parents have less involvement.
A good balance might also be to work out how to get non-pirating teens as involved in buying legal content as their pirating counterparts.