back to article One-third of Aussies 'are pirates'

One-third of adult Australians have practiced piracy in the last 12 months, a study has estimated. The study, released by the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft, claims that piracy sucks $A1.37bn out of the Australian economy. Direct effects claimed by AFACT amounted to $A575m, the study claims – including $A225m …


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  1. Mangled Haiku

    secondary piracy?

    $A225 million lost to "secondary piracy"... where an individual views or is lent material that is pirated...

    ok, there's no clear definition in the article and pdf of secondary piracy, (they define it as something but later include other things in it later on)... but...

    surely if I watch something at a friend's house (or borrow it from them) and then don't go on to purchase it, then regardless of whether the film was legal or not, no profit or loss was made...

    similarly if i purchase a legal copy as a result of that, in both cases an additional legal purchase took place...

    and if I were to pirate it, that would make me a "primary pirate" so It wouldn't count towards secondary piracy statistics...

    where does this huge loss come from? the only source left that matches that description of what could be "secondary piracy" is renting pirated copies of films from movie renting shops...

    the cost of secondary piracy is almost half of the total losses to piracy...

    now if 1/3 of aussies are pirates, then ~1/6 of all aussies are renting illegal dvds.

    this suggests that either there is a massive problem with dvd renting shops in australia, or there are some major calculation errors in AFACT's reasoning.

    Unless there's some major dvd lending scandal anounced in the next week, i'm gonig with the latter...

    1. James Henstridge

      New movies, perhaps?

      If the movie in question is currently in cinemas and not available to view in the home, then piracy is an alternative to buying a cinema ticket.

      Since each viewer would need to purchase a cinema ticket, there is a potential loss attributable to this definition of secondary piracy.

      1. irish donkey

        'potential loss' and loss

        I think that's the key phrase there.

        Is a potential loss a loss that a value can be attributed to?

        Just because I watch a film round my mate's house doesn't mean I would have paid £20 to go and see it in the cinema.

        What is more likely is I watch a film round my mate's house. Find out the hype means nothing and the film is $hit and tell everyone so.

        Could a value be attributed to that loss?

        If I decide not to go to the cinema because a friend told me a film was $hit is that a loss?

        Could a value be attributed to that loss?

        More likely I wouldn't go to the cinema because they charge £20. So you could call that a loss due to over charging.

        What you would like to attribute to a loss isn't the same thing as a loss.

        I lost a £Million at the weekend because I didn't win the lotto... who can I blame for that?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No sympathy for self inflicted harm

    Look at the pricing schemes used in Australia for cds, dvds, etc and it's no surprise people don't want to pay it. $30+ for a CD which would sell for £6-7 in the UK? Stop being so bloody greedy and you might find people more willing to shell out a buck or two.

    1. dave 81

      Greed justification.

      The really sick thing is that the games and entertainment industry's will use this "research" as an excuse to further inflate their overprice wares.

      So instead of lowering the price so that there is less excuse to pirate, the greed principle will just escalate with high prices, and pressure on the governments to come down harder on pirates.

    2. system11


      I think that's a balancing act - $30 is clearly insane of course, but there's a hard core of freetards who reject the notion that they aren't entitled to everything for free. Even at $1 they won't pay.

  3. John Hawkins

    Holdens, Tooheys and chips

    Presumably it would be a boost for the Australian economy if the money saved through downloading was spent on locally produced goods and services. It is 25 years since I studied macroeconomics, but I've a vague memory of the multiplier effect being stronger if the money remains in circulation rather than, for example, being siphoned off by multinational companies. Which is presumably what most of the members of AFACT are.

    Yeah, I know that Holden is part of GM, but the Holdens I've got in mind are unlikely to be bought new so the money stays in local circulation.

    1. foo_bar_baz


      As we all know, the two main past times in Australia are going to movies and burning money. It's one or the other.

      To make up for their lost spending, pirates should break a window for each downloaded movie. That would increase the spending on window repairs, which would employ more glaziers and have an equivalent multiplier effect!

      As we all know, money for window repairs in Australia comes from thin air (the burnt banknotes cause precipitation, however the money raining down is only accepted by glaziers).

  4. Jim_2

    The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

    I'd go out on a limb and say most people download stuff, yet most of those still buy stuff too. My spending has increased in the past decade on fluff like films and games, yet during that time broadband was made available.

    So on a survey of me, 'piracy' does fuck all. Equally as scientific as their study no doubt.

    1. Dog Faced Boy


      I have to agree but would also add that piracy increases sales. From my own personal viewpoint, I have discovered more music through piracy, but any group I am into, I always prefer to have the original, as you get the extras (better quality music, sleevenotes, etc.) before I had broadband my music budget was low as I didn't want to risk my money on unknown bands.

      Since downloading music, I have discovered more talented groups, and went out and bought their music. Piracy for me is a try before you buy. Some groups I have downloaded, and they are absolute tosh, so I'm glad I didn't waste the £10-£15 for their album, and their music doesn't stay long on my machine.

      Also being a bit of an oldie, I had a lot of groups on vinyl, then upgraded those groups to CD, so the music industry made double the money out of me, and they continue to make even more profit out of me, as I discover more bands through piracy that I like and then buy the original.

      Some pirates will never pay for what they download, but take away there ability to download and they still wouldn't pay anyway. Some studies have shown that most pirates spend more on DVDs and CDs than people whjo don't download. TorrentFreak is a good resource for a lot of info on the torrent scene and decent studies, not just studies backed by the MAFIAA

  5. Refugee from Windows

    Follow the money?

    Surely the money that hasn't found its way into the coffers of AFACT's sponsors has found its way elsewhere? Like the problem of overpriced software, if you had no pirates and nobody except the rich used it, you'd lose your market share to someone else with a different business model. They're being greedy.

    As for DVD's, if they're not less than a fiver in the bin at the local supermarket I wouldn't buy them anyway, and likewise I wouldn't download something to find out I've used a chunk of my broadband for it to be stopped watching after 5 minutes.

  6. Tom 260

    Secondary piracy?

    Surely the sale is nonexistent in this case (or lost as they call it) regardless of whether the media in question is legit or pirated. Unless they're planning on inventing and enforcing a charging scheme for lending a film to a mate or watching it together!

  7. AdamWill


    ...Australians should now show notably reduced household debt and increased savings, right? After all, they've saved all that money on digital media and apparently somehow also spent less on apparently utterly unrelated things.

    What's that? They don't? People will still find crap to spend all their disposable income, and more, on, whether or not they use it to buy movies? And hence the net impact of piracy on the overall economy (as opposed to that bit of it that makes movies) can best be described as 'negligible'? Ah.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Paris Hilton

      Living Proof

      actually my credit card statement isn't living but it proves your theory 100% correct Sir!

      - Paris because she knows how to spend money

  8. hitmouse

    Two-thirds of media vendors in Australia are pirates

    I don't know if they looked at what media companies - producers of books, music, movies, video games etc have been getting away with in Australia for years.

    Even with the AUD at parity with the USD, iTunes charges up to 65% more than it does its US customers, paperback books are the cost of hardback in the UK and US, a visit to any suburban cinema costs more than going to a central London theatre. Many alternate online purchase vendors (Amazon etc) do not sell to that part of the world, and I wouldn't say that the ones who do are well-stocked. That includes iTunes - plenty of UK and US material is not available there at all.

    The commercial TV networks have been making it impossible to watch or follow most overseas series because of the way they play with the timetables or in fact just discard a series altogether. Finally because Australia and NZ are region 4 for DVDs all sorts of pricing and release-date atrocities are inflicted on the local market, so everyone has a regionfree player and imports what they can afford postage-wise. When you see region-4 NTSC DVDs dumped in Australia you can see that the video vendors are hardly taking the market seriously.

    As a result I think most Aussies have leapt at the only consistent avenue of supply available given the contempt and greed of suppliers.

    I'm sure that if BBC iPlayer were made available for subscription in Oz that it would be popular. BBC may do that but they're only going after the US iPad-owner market now.

    1. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD

      Two Thirds?

      Come now, that's way too conservative an estimate, hey? :P

  9. cphi

    and the options are?

    if somebody knows a way to actually obtain video on demand legally in Australia, I'd love to hear it. I've tried Foxtel (fail because you need a PSTN connection - very high tech...), I've tried Apple (fail because you can't access a lot of material until after it's been broadcast on tv), I've tried Netflix (fail because I'm now outside the US). Just what the hell are the options?

    1. foo_bar_baz

      Subscribe to a US-based VPN

      Voila, you are now in the USA.

      1. The Indomitable Gall

        Re: Subscribe to a US-based VPN

        "Voila, you are now in the USA."

        The poster specifically referred to *legal* VOD options.

    2. peter 62

      no more pstn

      you don't need pstn anymore. but the price & selection leaves a lot to be desired, cf: NetFlix

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dodgy economics

    "the multipliers mean that piracy sucks $A1.37 billion out of the Australian economy"


    So every time someone pirates a movie, the retail value (plus a multiplier of some sort) in actual cash mysteriously vanishes out of the Australian economy?

    What a load of twaddle. The Australian economy remains the same, the money is merely redistributed differently to the hypothetical model based on a raft of assumptions connected to what the modelers believe would happen in a world without piracy. In reality, the money distribution would probably be exactly the same as it is today, as the values people assign to different things would probably remain the same as they are in the real world today.

  11. pith

    Not sucking at all!

    Surely its not actually sucking $A1.37 billion out of the Australian economy as I'm guessing that people would either not have spent that money or are just spending it on something else (such as replacing all there flood damaged electronics!).

    ie the same amount of money is going in to the economy, just not to the movie industry...

  12. paulll

    lol@ 'Secondary Piracy'

    Beware Environmental Copyright Theft.

    Then of course, there's 'Third-hand piracy,' where a person overhears the first two discuss the pirated movie they watched in so much detail that the need to purchase his own, legitimate, copy is obviated.


    1. hplasm

      Tertiary Piracy

      It's where you don't buy it or watch it at all; you must still pay! Yarr!!

    2. Semaj
      Thumb Up

      Good Point!

      You should be a consultant for them.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    I don't think so...

    "piracy sucks $A1.37 billion out of the Australian economy"

    Sorry, but I call twoddle on this one. A dollar not spent going to the movies is a dollar that is spent somewhere else in the economy, it doesn't magically vanish into the ether.

    These people have got a valid point that their business is in decline. As did horse and cart dealers when cars came along.

    If they expect any sympathy when they refuse to give their customers what they want (DRM free, timely, high quality downloads), and yet still expect them to front up and hand over their money, then "tell 'em they're dreaming"...

  14. Goat Jam

    What I can't figure out

    is whether these clowns are craven liars or just plain old stupid.

    The answer is probably both.

    "The multiplier effects, for those willing to get past the press release, include reduced spending on recreation, clothing, housing and household goods."

    I assume that statement means that record company execs have less money to spend on Beemers, hookers and nose candy or something.

    What it fails to take into account is that;

    a) These so called "pirates" would never have actually purchased even 10% of the shit that they download in the first place, meaning the alleged "losses" are nothing like what these retards claim.

    b) Even if there are real and actual losses it is not going to lead to "reduced spending on recreation, clothing and household goods" at all. The "lost" spending will merely be done by people other than the various recording industry leeches, primarily the "freetards" and their families. What these morons are espousing here is known as "The Broken Window Fallacy" and it is often wheeled out on occasions such as this in an effort to convince non critical thinkers (ie judges, politicians) that their ridiculous argument has some merit. It doesn't.

    And before anyone climbs up on their high horse and whines about "artists" being ripped off, then I would direct you straight to the horses mouth on that argument.

  15. Michael Xion

    Define pirate .....

    If I loan a friend my disc set of firefly that's ok. If I copy the disc set and loan him the copies, is that piracy? Either way the content creator gets no additional revenue.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Define pirate .....

      Easy - anyone who doesn't give all of their money to the music/film/software industries.

      This is based on the assumption that every published piece of music/film/software is the greatest thing ever produced and you would have to be stupid to not own it.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Define pirate

      Someone who hijacks or attacks ships or boats.

      All the other stuff being discussed in this thread has nothing to do with "piracy". Rather, it's about "copyright infringement", but that doesn't sound anywhere near as dangerous as "piracy", so let's just keep using the incorrect term in order to help cement big media's agenda into the public's mind.

      Or better still, we could call it "data kidnapping" or "bit rape".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Re: Define pirate

        You could look at the OED, it clearly defines Pirate as both the thing at sea and the thing with taking copyright material.

        Words can have more than one meaning.

  16. Denarius Silver badge

    FAIL big time

    Send them to the colonies....

    oh drat, Earls Court is full of hippy relics or something already.

    Another example of getting the answer wanted by asking the questions appropriately.

    Now if the Oz Bureau of Stats had done the questionaire, I might take it with only a grain of salt, not the Dead Sea

  17. Anonymous Coward

    It's meaningless

    unless they publish the methodology/questions they used to arrive at these figures.

    I wonder why they won't? Probably because it would show that they have deliberately skewed the outcome of the survey to give the results they wanted to see.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    let me help them

    I'll just watch that telesync copy again, just to make their numbers look better.

  19. PerfectBlue

    It's hard to take you seriously when ....

    It'd be nice if people would stop dragging out the word "freetard" every 5 minutes. Let's just call it piracy and the people who do it pirates, OK.

    I know that this is a pretty informal forum, and it's not as if we're standing in front of Congress or anything, but if you are trying to get a serious message across about a serious issue name calling isn't the best way to get your argument across.

    No matter how much industry experience you have name calling makes you sound like a teenage throwing a tantrum because a big bad company is asking you to pay for something.

    On the other hand, these piracy claims are ridiculous. For a start, in in 3 Australians would include a lot of small children and senior citizens.

    Now, I conceed that some parents will show their nippers pirated Disney videos and so on, but 1 in 3?

    I remember a British report on piracy a while back where one of the big PC magazines looked deeper and found that they people who wrote the report had surveyed a tiny number of people, and had then "presumed" thata percentage of them were pirates, but weren't admiting to it, and they'd extrpolated from there. I think in the end the survey came up with some ridiciouls claim based on this extrapolation. They basically just took the number of people and kept on multiplying them, till they reached X million.

    If anybody wants to look up the exact numbers to see what I'm talking about it was in PC Pro Magazine a year or so back. The article should still be on their website somewhere.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Actually, it is very strange to use the word piracy. It was no doubt cooked up to sound horribly ... horrible.

      They would have used terrorists, as in IP terrorists, copyright terrorists, if they had thought about it, and if that word had been fashionable at the time the term pirate was coined (artist reaper or art obliterator would do too, but are a tad long) for napster users. But a pirate is nasty enough isn't it?

      Don't expect mercy from these guys, they'll kill you just for fun, after they've attacked you and taken all your belongings of course.

      I prefer freetard personally, even though it is lame and overused. It sounds more innocuous, which I am sure was not the point at all.

  20. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    Or, so they were Aussies!

    I in my naivity thought it was the Somalis who pirated all those ships...

    Because the term "piracy" means armed robbery on the high seas committed by a non-sovereign entity and is not applicable to copyright infringement.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      See the OED for clarification.

      1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov


        OED thinks "Grrrl" is an English word...

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And the other 2/3s are thieves

    Ah-ha-hahaha-haha-hahahaha-ha-ha-hahaha-ha <breathes>

    1. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD



      This is again based on another ground breaking landmark *cough* 'survey'

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Another pointless survey ...

    "The approach for measuring direct consumer spending losses to the movie industry is based on the analysis of results from a nationally representative telephone survey of 3,500 adults."

    Population of Australia: 21,874,900

    Percentage of population surveyed: approx 0.016%.

    "The survey results show that a third of the adult population of Australia has participated in movie piracy in the 12 months up to Q3 2010 – with an estimated volume of pirated movies viewed or obtained at 92m in this period."

    Invalid conclusion. The survey results show that a third of the 3,500 people surveyed (i.e. 1,166 people) claimed they had obtained and/or viewed an 'unauthorised' movie in the previous 12 months.

    It only supports the conclusions if you multiply the findings of the survey by a factor of 6,250 (that's 100% / 0.016%).

    The approach for measuring direct consumer spending losses is, therefore, invalid.

    And because the approach is invalid the conclusions (even if they are valid) are not supported by the report.

    1. davenewman

      You can multiply but ...

      you need to give the 95% confidence limits on your numbers. It is possible that 3500 could be a representative sample - depending on the sampling technique. But there will be some uncertainty in the figures.

      The bigger problem is the wording of the question(s) asked: could it have encouraged positive answers from confused respondents?

  23. TeeCee Gold badge

    We need a Venn diagram of Oz.

    "Pirates", "Convicts" and "Bad losers", showing demographic %ages and the overlap.....

    1. Anonymous Coward

      We already have one

      The RAF put it on the sides of aircraft.

  24. JaitcH

    "the study estimated that one-third of adult Australians were active pirates"

    The operative word in all these stories is ESTIMATED - they do not really know and they cannot really know.

    As for the 6,000 jobs lost due to piracy, this is another load of hog wash. Most of the money would have ended up in Hollywood.

    The same happened when the BSE estimated the activity in Cambodia, Laos and VietNam - they didn't even visit these countries and in the rural areas there are very few computers. Laos is even more bereft of computers but there piracy continues unabated - maybe they count those CD/DVD blanks that adorn bicycles instead of lights.

    You would have thought that a high tech industry could at least have arrived at accurate figures.

    And next time I pick up a discarded newspaper I shall bare in mind that I am committing secondary copyright infringement! What other stupidty are they going to concoct?

  25. Tigra 07

    Fail because it's not AFACT

    I can't be the only one here who won't buy a dvd without already watching it somewhere, so if a mate lends me a pirate and i watch it and don't like it.

    Obviously i won't buy it.

  26. Tron Bronze badge

    Well obviously...

    ...the Aussie govt. need to take $1bn out of the education budget and give it to the music and movie industry, so that justice can be done.

    Statistics: The easy way to tell lies. If they punt a few thousand my way, I can cook up an even higher figure.

    I hummed a tune on a bus yesterday. Everybody heard. Passive piracy. Come at me, bro.

  27. Saucerhead Tharpe

    So FOSS folk are pirates in El Reg's eyes?

    If FOSS folk are "freetards" and priates are "freetards" then El Reg, which should know better, equates the two.

    Never mind that any ouse of "retard" or modiifcations of the same is puerile in the extreme, figures such as these are often dubious, and a journalist would actually attempt some fact checking.

    But why do the work when you can go for a lazy slur?

    1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      Sense of humour wanted now?

      "So, freetards, hang your heads in shame: not only were more than 6,000 jobs lost due to piracy, but the victims of your crime are now homeless, naked, hungry and bored."

      Don't see any lazy slurs here but irony abound. Unless you indeed believe that the media companies executives in Australia are now homeless and naked (wow, what a disgusting thought!) and so on...

  28. Anonymous Coward


    Many of them are descended from criminals anyway right?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      One up for the geneticists

      As that implies nature over nurture

    2. peter 62

      ob. princess bride

      "...and australia is entirely peopled by criminals..." - vizzini

      oops - did i just contribute to the problem? well call be roberts!

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Am I the only one...

    who thinks people who download a lot of illegal content are happy to pay subscriptions to dubious suppliers for the privilege. The more they watch the more 'wired in to the hollywood sausage machine' they are and are usually the first in line at the local multi-plex to see any movie actually worth paying for.

    If 'they' are worried about losing money then they can go and buy a share of Western Digital's hard drive business and Telstra BigPond.

    - Paris because she knows a thing or two about pirate DVDs

  30. mstargard

    Only a third?

    And the other two thirds aren't admitting it.

    Look, if you're going to make stuff up, as this study does, then at least make it "truthy".

    How much benefit did this piracy create for the Australian economy?

    Where was that freed household income spent?

    How much benefit did this create for emerging artists in terms of better exposure?

    How much benefit is this piracy to Australian society in general? After all, your culture is now backed-up and publicly available, not only to Australians, but to the rest of the world. And Australians are sampling other country's "back-ups" as well. There's a social benefit there - how much is that worth?

    While I'm not advocating throwing the entertainment industry under the bus, I also don't want to see the rest of us pay to artificially sustain what is a very (very) tiny industry in the grand scheme of things.

    What we see time and again, in lots of different countries, is heavy handed regulatory interference that hurts more than it helps.

  31. TelePom


    "participated in movie piracy". That could mean anybody who's ever watched a pirated movie, whether or not they downloaded it themselves. That includes my mother and just about everybody I know. By that measure, I'm surprised it's not an even higher percentage.

  32. Anonymous Coward


    There, I said it!!

    Mine's the bullet and dingo-proof one on the hook over there....

  33. FozzyBear


    Another pointless survey that will be used by the powers that be to push their own agenda and get reforms that benefit them.

    With the crap they peddle as entertainment on the TV and at the movies I make no apologies for simply not watching it, period.

  34. Rattus Rattus

    AFACT can get stuffed

    The Australian dollar has been roughly at parity with the US dollar for quite a while now. The average new PC game in the US costs $50. In Australia, the same game costs $90 or more, even for digital delivery where you can ignore the cost of shipping. The same kind of pricing disparity is found in other forms of content - music, movies, even books!

    Piracy in Australia would mostly disappear if content providers would (a) stop charging us double the prices they charge in America; and (b) make more of their services available in Australia (I'm looking at YOU, Netflix, as well as your friends).

    If people cant legally obtain what they want at reasonable prices, they WILL turn to illegal means of obtaining it. It's not human nature to go without, or wait patiently for corporations to pull their collective finger out.

  35. bugalugs

    @We need a Venn diagram of Oz.

    " "Pirates", "Convicts" and "Bad losers", showing demographic %ages and the overlap "

    Weeeeell, like most Westerners, Aussies are Convicts till they're 18 or so, Bad Losers until retirement or there-abouts and Pirates thereafter. More-or-less. Hope this helps.

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