By now most of us own some sort of device that allows us to stream Netflix. And lo and behold, after a successful launch in Australia, research shows that this reasonably priced alternative has actually helped reduce piracy in Australia.
Maybe Australia isn't a nation of bloodthirsty, copyright breaching pirates after all?
According to data released by the IP Awareness Foundation, online piracy is on the decline.
It's not a massive decline. 25% of Australians aged 18-64 pirate, a decrease on 29% from the previous year. That in itself isn't that interesting a number, but the number of Australians using streaming services like Netflix increased by a similar amount: from 26% in 2014 to 32% in 2015. We have to be careful of claiming definitive links, but that can't be a coincidence, can it?
Well no, probably not. 33% of respondents who claimed they pirate less actually named reasonably priced alternatives like Netflix as the major reason why.
Regardless, the IP Awareness Foundation attributed the fall in online piracy to recent legislation.
“Piracy has always needed a range of measures to tackle the problem as we all know there is no silver bullet. This fall in piracy rates is definitely largely attributable to the combination of the government’s new legislation, plus the ongoing efforts of the creative industries to continue delivering great content at accessible prices to Australian consumers and the work being done to educate consumers about the impact of copyright theft”, says IP Awareness Executive Director Lori Flekser.
She also mentioned that, despite a positive sea change in terms of the amount of Australians pirating content, enthusiasm should be tapered: those who claim they are still pirating are apparently pirating more
What's interesting about this research is the group who conducted it. The IP Awareness Foundation defines itself as a group "committed to raising awareness about the value of screen content and the impact of piracy through research, consumer campaigns and education". Its stakeholders are cinemas, film distributors, producers, filmmakers, funding bodies, craft guilds, and broadcasters.
Previous research released by Choice suggested the same kind of correlation but it's actually in the IP Awareness Foundation's best interests to downplay a reduction in piracy. The fact that their research still shows a reduction in piracy as a result of services like Netflix is actually quite powerful.
At best it shows that if Australians are provided with a fairly priced alternative, they are less likely to pirate content. That's a positive start.