CHOICE says that the leaked Federal Government’s Online Copyright Infringement discussion paper sidesteps the Australia tax issue and fails to deal with the real causes of piracy.
“If the Government is serious about addressing piracy, it needs to address the fundamental issues: that Australians often find it hard to gain access to content like movies and television, and when they do, they pay far too much compared to consumers in other countries,” says CHOICE Campaigns Manager Erin Turner.
“This issue was comprehensively examined by the IT Pricing Inquiry, which released its report – At what cost? IT pricing and the Australia tax – one year ago.”
“Australians commonly pay around 50% more for software and other digital products like games and music. The IT Pricing Inquiry provided a bipartisan blueprint for reforms to address this price discrimination.”
“If the leaks are correct, the Government’s leaked anti-piracy discussion paper has missed the opportunity to deal with this problem—in fact, the paper explicitly says the Government does not want to receive comment on Australia tax issues.”
The leaked paper acknowledges that “rights holders can ensure that content can be accessed easily and at a reasonable price by their customers” but offers no policy solutions to address the Australia tax. It also states that it is “not seeking comment” on issues raised in the IT Pricing Inquiry.
“The leaked paper appears to focus on expanding the liability of Internet Service Providers for copyright infringement, and introducing an anti-piracy internet filter.”
“These sorts of measures, when introduced overseas, have proven to be ineffective in reducing piracy, and costly for consumers.”
Meanwhile Australians are still paying more for identical digital products. For example, Adelaide-born artist Sia’s new album, which reached number one in the United States last month, is 82% more expensive in the Australian iTunes store than in the US iTunes store.
Similarly the new album of from Aussie artist Iggy Azalea, who has also made it big in the United States, costs Australian consumers 45% more. And it’s not just music – Australians pay 42% more to watch Australian Actor Hugh Jackman in The Wolverine.
CHOICE believes that online copyright infringement is a real issue that must be addressed. However it also believes that piracy in Australian is in part driven by poor access and high prices of content, which are out of sync with other markets.
“We are not suggesting that better access and more competitive prices are silver bullets that will solve this issue entirely. However they are important factors which deserve real consideration – not just a tokenistic mention in a preamble,” Ms Turner says.