A new survey from the Intellectual Property Awareness Foundation (IPAF) has found that 10 per cent of Australians are ceasing their TV and movie copyright infringements.
The online survey was conducted by Newspoll for IPAF, a foundation made up of content owner organisations such as Foxtel and the Motion Pictures Association of America (MPAA). During April, it surveyed 1654 Australians on their views of online copyright infringement, and found that just 27 per cent of Australians are actively downloading infringing copies of TV shows or films.
Ten per cent of respondents indicated that they had once downloaded infringing copies of films and TV shows, but had now ceased to do so. The study showed that 67 per cent of these respondents had stopped because they were concerned about getting viruses on their computer, while 65 per cent said that there were now more legal options available. Sixty-one per cent indicated that they had stopped because piracy was the wrong thing to do.
For the 10 per cent who download a TV show more than once a week, 72 per cent said they do it because the show is not available legally online to do so, but the foundation also points out that 86 per cent of these frequent downloaders do so because it is free. The vast majority of frequent downloaders overwhelmingly download TV shows, rather than movies.
According to the foundation's survey, the most popular place to get content was The Pirate Bay, with 21 per cent of respondents citing the website as their choice for obtaining infringing content. Other websites mentioned include YouTube, Google, Limewire, Isohunt, iTunes, Megavideo, Eztv.com and Mediafire.com.
But a survey by Ericsson (PDF), conducted last year, showed that legal avenues are gaining popularity. The ABC's iView service was almost on par with file-sharing websites, as the most popular source of video content in Australia. In the US, file-sharing trailed behind other legal avenues such as iTunes, Netflix and Hulu.
The survey showed that more Australians were willing to buy or rent a DVD after watching a pirated version of that content, up to 26 per cent, from 25 per cent in 2011. More Australians were also willing to pay to download or stream a movie or TV show after getting an infringing copy, up to 13 per cent, from 10 per cent in 2011.
Fifty-four per cent of respondents said they would be willing to pay $2.99 for a TV show, instead of downloading an infringing copy of that show. But IPAF also noted that those who download once a week are much less likely to pay, with just 22 per cent opting to pay for the TV show. Forty-eight per cent would pay $5.99 for a movie, though only 19 per cent of frequent downloaders were willing to pay.
Fifty per cent of respondents believed that internet service providers (ISPs) should take more responsibility in preventing online copyright infringement, while 71 per cent said they would stop downloading if their ISP notified them that this was in breach of their terms and conditions.
This response comes just after the High Court of Australia ruled that iiNet did not authorise its customers' copyright infringement, by not passing on infringement notices to customers. IPAF director Lori Flekser told ZDNet Australia that, despite the court ruling, the survey showed that people's behaviours would change with ISP intervention.
"Quite a high percentage of people ... have said they would stop if they were warned by their ISP. So, regardless of the finding of the iiNet case, clearly this research gives a voice to Australians, and that is what they are saying."
The survey showed that the older the respondent, the more likely they were to stop downloading if warned by their ISP. Sixty-two per cent of 18 to 24 year olds said they would stop, while 81 per cent of 50 to 64 year olds would stop if warned by their ISP.
Adding the threat of having their internet access suspended did not have a much greater impact over a threatless warning, with just an extra 2 per cent (coming to 73 per cent) indicating that they would stop downloading infringing material. Forty per cent of all respondents suggested that ISPs stood to gain from online movie and TV piracy.
Communications Alliance CEO John Stanton rejected this suggestion.
"Bandwidth costs money," he told ZDNet Australia. "And to suggest peer-to-peer traffic is a profitable exercise for ISPs is absolutely wrong."
He said that in the US, where more content was made available legally online, peer-to-peer traffic was falling and we would see a similar trend in Australia, if services such as Netflix and Hulu were made available.
"In Australia, where we are still subject to staggered release windows and delays, the motivation is still there to look for the other ways of getting content when you want it."
Stanton pointed to the Alliance's own proposal to stop piracy, which includes notifying users who are believed to be infringing on copyright. He said that rights holders have it within their means to get behind this sort of proposal.
"In reality, if they were to spend a little less on research designed to sway public opinion and a little less on litigation, they'd probably have more than enough money to fund what is required to make a trial happen," he said.