Piracy remains static but calls for Google to act
Early site blocking measures are stemming the tide, but Google is under pressure to hide proxy sites too.
Piracy of screen content has been arrested and remains static, according to new data, with 21% of adults 18–64 admitting some form of piracy.
But Anti-piracy organisation Creative Content Australia still wants Google to take further action surrounding proxy sites.
CCA Executive Director Lori Flekser told delegates at the Screen Forever conference in Melbourne this morning a combination of factors contributed to no increase in piracy levels since 2016: an increase in subscriptions to streaming services, the presence of site blocks and the prevalence of malware.
“Our research was conducted between September 14 to 19 so it is too early to measure the response to the latest site blocks as the Federal Court ruling, ordering 59 site blocks, did not commence until mid-September. The CCA data only provides a preliminary snapshot of the impact of the blocks. Prior to this only five sites had been blocked. We know from other research that site blocking is effective, and our research confirms that most pirates have encountered a site block,” said Flekser.
She said the Australian Incopro study (May 2017) – based on the five sites blocked in December-February – shows combined usage of the blocked sites and associated proxies decreased by 59.6% since blocking began in September 2016.
But the research showed that search engines, such as Google, are most mentioned by adults as the means to find illegal content online. After reaching a blocked site, whilst half of Australians are turning to a legal source to access the same content, 77% of adults and 74% of teens are searching for an alternative infringing site for the same content.
CCA Chairman Graham Burke said, “Site blocking works and we have shut the front door of the department store by removing the big sign ‘Free Stolen Goods’. But as the processes to remove ‘mirror’ sites are slow, search engines are blatantly thumbing their noses at Australian law and courts by leading people to the back door.
“All you have to do is Google ‘PIR’ and Google auto complete comes up with ‘Pirate Bay proxies’. Google can address this as they have done in other areas and if they don’t they are demonstrating only an interest in luring traffic to their advertising model business.”
Creative Content Australia’s recent ‘Price of Piracy’ consumer campaign drew attention to the link between malware and piracy. Numerous international studies have confirmed that link, showing how infringing video streaming has become the number one method to propagate malware on the Internet.
The new research from CCA confirms that amongst persistent pirates, 47% of teens and 59% of adults have contracted a virus or malware by clicking on an ad or pop-up, or from streaming or downloading movies or TV from a pirate site.
Lori Flekser also told the Screen Forever delegates that this wave of research had investigated the use of set top boxes and infringing apps for the first time and found they are ‘piracy’s new frontier’.
Set top boxes and their software are not illegal. They allow viewers to watch online services on their TV sets including legal services like Netflix. However, apps can be downloaded that allow ‘add-ons’ to seek out unlicensed content and deliver pirated movies and TV shows with ease.
Of the 31% of Australians aged 12-64 who watch movies or TV shows through a set top box, CCA research shows one in four teens uses infringing content apps to access pirated content. Amongst adults, that figure is one in five. Use of set top boxes has been shown to compromise subscriptions to legitimate services.
Lori Flekser said that in terms of attitudes to piracy, the latest study recorded the highest number ever of Australians to agree piracy is stealing/theft (74% of adults and teens) with the majority (68% of teens and 65% of adults) acknowledging that piracy damages the livelihoods and jobs of those working in the film and television industries.
About the research methodology:
CCA’s research was conducted by independent research company Sycamore in conjunction with OmniPoll. The adult study comprises online quantitative research conducted between 14-19 September 2017, with 1021 respondents nationally aged 18-64, up-weighted to ABS data on age, highest level of schooling, sex and area to be representative of total population. The teen study comprises online quantitative research conducted between 4-13 September 2017, with 648 respondents nationally aged 12-17 (recruited via parents / guardians), up-weighted to ABS data on age, sex and area to be representative of total population.