Illegal Downloading and its Cost to the Economy

We Australians bloody love a good download. So much so that 43% of us have consumed at least one downloaded file at some point, compared to only a fifth of the UK.

In terms of what we’re downloading, 48% were movies, 37% was music, 33% were TV shows and 22% were video games.

In 2014, there were 1.6 million pirated files available for download via the interwebs, estimated to be worth over $US800 billion to the global economy. That number is likely to have risen to over 1.96 million files by now.

But why are we so keen on getting this stuff for free? Well, it’s not so much the price tag as it is the availability, and the influx of streaming services like Netflix are doing little to stem the flow of illegal wares.

With Foxtel owning a lot of the rights to premium dramas like Game of Thrones (We’re the worst offenders of this one), consumers are forced to either subscribe to the service or find other ways of acquiring it. And now that we’ve become accustomed to seeing content at the same time as the US, few people are waiting around for it to become available on iTunes, because you know, spoilers.

You only have to look at the Australian Netflix library to see that we’re missing out on quite a lot.

And with Dallas Buyers Club LLC dropping their landmark case against iinet in December, it doesn’t look like our piracy problem is going anywhere.

After winning the right to the contact details of 4,726 Australian ISP customers who had pirated the movie, they would then aim to demand compensation for their losses. The Federal Court ruled that they would first need to pay a $600,000 bond and could only claim the cost of the movie and some other small expenses, something they decided was not worth the effort.

While illegal downloading comes at a huge cost to the global economy, not to mention a big blow to jobs in the entertainment industry, policy makers will need to come up with better deterrents or options for availability if they want pirates to start paying for content.