What’s so bad about Piracy?

Online piracy is one of the most challenging issues facing the creative industries today. Piracy inhibits the development of new creative content by increasing the risk to recoupment and compounding the uncertainty of the business models.

To justify illegal streaming and downloading, the piracy debate has become riddled with misinformation and myths.

So here are the facts:

Piracy is theft, plain and simple. 81% of Australians agree that downloading or streaming pirated content is stealing/theft. The notion that somehow entertainment is not valuable because it’s not as tangible as a car or a piece of clothing is both inaccurate and damaging. Even digital products contain “manufacturing” costs and, in the case of movies and TV shows, it’s the many years, the massive amount of high-tech equipment and the hundreds of skilled professionals it takes to make the content. The exchange of money for works, goods and services is an essential mechanism in market based economies and thus, if people access content via illegal sites, they are plainly and simply stealing.

Piracy affects the local industry. 1.5 million people watched the Academy Award-winning Australian film Mad Max: Fury Road in Australian cinemas. However, the film was illegally downloaded 1.2 million times in its’ year of release in Australia alone. This lost revenue leads to an inevitable decline in the number of investors to finance new content. Less money means fewer films which in turn means less work for the thousands of Australians employed by the screen industries. Having a sustainable career in the creative industry is not possible if the business model is undermined by piracy.

There is more content available than ever before. In recent years there has been substantial growth in the number and type of online content services around the world and in Australia. There are currently twenty-eight film/TV content services in Australia (March 2021). These platforms offer Australians a huge array of screen content at accessible price points – several of which are free. It’s ironic that the most pirated titles are always the easiest to access through legal channels and that piracy spikes when a digital version of a film/TV show becomes available.

Pirate sites generate huge profits for criminals. Piracy supports a vast criminal economy, generating millions of dollars. Sadly, it’s just not the people who made the content who benefit. International crime syndicates run illegal content sites for profit through online advertising for the gambling and pornography industries and the sale of user data to criminal enterprises. Many of these organised crime groups are also involved in other criminal activities, including, in some cases, terrorism.

Piracy has serious personal consequences for users. A growing body of credible Australian and international research studies increasingly confirm the cyber security risks associated with sites providing illegal content. Illicit sites, apps and devices provide hackers the ability to exploit consumers by exposing users personal data to criminals – such as credit card and bank details, passwords and photos. Unfortunately for victims, as pirate sites operate in jurisdictions beyond the reach of national courts, police can offer little assistance in bringing criminals to justice.

For more information, visit https://thepriceofpiracy.org.au/

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