Inquiry delivers blueprint for fairer digital prices

[box border=”full”]CHOICE says politicians must now act to terminate the ‘Australia tax’[/box]

CHOICE has welcomed the final report from the Federal Parliament’s inquiry into IT pricing, saying it delivers a clear blueprint to reduce the digital price discrimination faced by Australian consumers.

CHOICE provided a detailed submission to the inquiry, analysing over 200 separate software products, games and music downloads, which showed Australians pay around 50 per cent more for identical goods compared to US consumers.

“Our research shows Australians cop a raw deal on digital prices, and today’s report provides a much-needed trigger for government action to terminate the so-called ‘Australia tax’,” says CHOICE director of campaigns and communications, Matt Levey.

“In particular, we congratulate the Committee for taking aim at the practice of ‘geo-blocking’, the virtual walls put in place by global copyright owners and manufacturers to artificially carve up markets and sustain higher prices in regions like Australia.”

CHOICE says the inquiry’s key recommendations are:

  • Removing all parallel import restrictions under copyright law, giving Australians access to cheaper, genuine goods (Rec. 4);
  • Reforming copyright law to give greater protection to consumers getting around ‘geo-blocks’ (Rec. 5);
  • Educating consumers on their rights to get around geo-blocks, and the tools available to them (Rec. 6);
  • Considering amending the law to make terms of service which seek to enforce geo-blocking void (Rec. 10); and
  • Considering an outright ban on geo-blocking if other changes don’t work (Rec. 9).

“Taken together, these are strong recommendations based on a huge amount of evidence, including the Committee’s welcome step of compelling IT giants Apple, Adobe and Microsoft to front the inquiry in April this year,” Mr Levey says.

“We now need to see this bipartisan approach translate into action in the Parliament, giving Australians the confidence and tools to bypass virtual walls and access legitimate, cheaper digital goods.”

Read CHOICE’s submission to the IT pricing inquiry and our guide for consumers to get around geo-blocking.

CHOICE’s work on digital price discrimination