“It is pleasing to see Australians increasingly turn to legitimately-sourced content,” Mr Fletcher said in a statement. “It is widely accessible and reasonably priced, which supports the continued growth and success of our creative industries.”
Marc C-Scott, a senior lecturer in media at Victoria University, said he did not believe the NBN played a significant role as it lets users to pirate content at the same speed as streaming legitimate material.
“The key reason why people have been pirating in Australia, it’s all about content. It’s not about the NBN,” Dr C-Scott said. “I can’t see the NBN being the golden bullet in this scenario.”
YouTube, Spotify and iTunes were the top music services while Australians preferred Netflix, YouTube and Stan for movies, the survey found. This was the same as in 2018.
There has been a surge in streaming services in Australia with Disney+ launching in November and relatively recent launches of Foxtel’s sports option Kayo Sports, Network Ten’s 10 All Access and improved free broadcast-on-demand options from Nine, Ten and Seven West Media.
Quality, ease of use and a desire to avoid piracy were the leading reasons people picked legitimate content over illegal options, the survey found.
There was a slight downturn in the number of people saying they streamed TV shows, which Dr C-Scott said might be a result of users being unsure of whether watching Netflix or clips on YouTube counted as TV.
There was also a slight increase in those streaming movies unlawfully from 21 per cent to 25 per cent. Cost, ease of use and speed were the primary factors pushing Australians to piracy.
While streaming services were the main reason for the downturn in illegal downloading, more than half of survey respondents said they would give up attempting to pirate if they were confronted with a blocked site.
There have been laws in place since 2015 allowing copyright holders to seek court orders requiring telecommunications companies to block these sites and rules introduced in 2018 allowed the content owners to go a step further and get injunctions against businesses like Google if necessary.
Blocked websites can lead to a significant reduction in piracy, however sites often pop up under new names quickly afterwards.
In May, Google agreed to voluntarily remove websites from search results that had been blocked by internet service providers for hosting pirated content rather than go through the courts.
The changes came after severe criticism against the tech giant by Village Roadshow chief executive Graham Burke, who has repeatedly warned the cinema, theme park and film production business had lost “millions of dollars” due to privacy.
Mr Burke, who is retiring as chief executive at the end of 2019, has also lashed out at the government for failing to accept recommendations made by the competition watchdog over copyright takedowns after an 18-month inquiry into the digital platforms and their impact on local media companies.
Mr Burke said in a short statement there was still a “massive need” for more to be done on piracy and he would continue campaigning on the problem in 2020.
Stan is owned by Nine Entertainment Co, owner of this masthead.
Jennifer Duke is a media and telecommunications journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
Nick is a journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald.