Internet advocacy group, Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA), has rejected a damning report from The Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) on movie theft’s impact on the economy saying it will do little to discourage film piracy online.
The report titled Economic consequences of movie piracy claimed movie piracy cost the Australian economy $1.37 billion in lost revenue and 6100 jobs from July 2009 to July 2010.
Of that direct losses through digital piracy amounted to $465 million.
The report also states tax losses to movie piracy amounted to $193 million while the movie industry lost $575 million from the consumer spending downturn caused by piracy.
Conducted by IPSOS and Oxford Economics on behalf of AFACT, it also claimed one-third of Australia’s adult population has engaged in some form of movie theft.
AFACT executive director, Neil Gane, said in a statement the research highlights the “destructive impact” illegal movie downloads have on the film industry and demanded “urgency in addressing this problem”.
EFA is currently dissecting the published study to analyse the methodologies used to produce the results. But the group’s preliminarily judgement on the report is that it’s flawed and the large figure attributed to piracy is hard to justify.
“[The study] didn’t consider how people rated piracy; whether their attitudes would change if they had a convenience and legitimate method to buy content,” EFA chair, Colin Jacobs, said. “I don’t think that methodology is likely to capture just how many people would have gone and bought something legitimately if it was readily available.”
He said the record profits generated by the movie studios and the success of Apple’s legal content distribution platform, iTunes, showed that piracy is not strangling the film industry.
“If this report is part of a new campaign to scare and shame Internet users away from digital downloads then it will not be very productive,” Jacobs said. “AFACT should be focusing its efforts on improving on digital offerings rather than trying to scare people away and treating [downloaders] automatically as thieves.”
The EFA has long argued if film studios offered effective and cheap content distribution platforms, it would encourage people to obtain films legitimately rather than through illegal means such as BitTorrent.
AFACT has taken a stance of holding ISPs responsible should their subscriber-base engage in copyright infringement through their networks.
AFACT and iiNet have been embroiled in a copyright case since late 2008. The anti-piracy group sued iiNet for infringing copyright by not acting on the “rampant” film piracy conducted by the ISP’s users.
iiNet won the case but AFACT appealed the judgement last year. The Federal Court has yet to announce the verdict on the appeal.