A study has recently come out of Australia detailing how consumers behave regarding their media. The study looked at people who infringe constantly, people who do it some of the time, and people who don’t do it at all.
The Online Copyright Infringement Research Paper [PDF], commissioned by the Department of Communications and prepared by research company TNS, surveyed 2,630 media consumers in Australia over the age of 12 to gauge the rate of piracy across the country, comparing the figures to a similar study in the UK.
The study found that people who only “pirated” media some of the time actually spent more than either the group that pirates constantly and the group that doesn’t pirate at all.
Consumers who flirt with the morally ambiguous line of content consumption spend more money, according to a survey released by the Australian Department of Communications. Over a three-month period among respondents aged 12 and over, the survey found that those who consumed a mixture of copyright-infringing and non-infringing content spent on average AU$200 on music, AU$118 on video games, AU$92 on movies, and AU$33 on TV content. Consumers who only consumed non-infringing content spent only AU$126 on music, AU$110 on video games, AU$67 on movies, and AU$22 on TV; whereas pure copyright-infringing content consumers spent a mere AU$88 on music, AU$24 on video games, AU$53 on movies, and AU$8 on TV content.
These results aren’t exactly surprising. The study included people who did not trust or know how to use pirate websites, this is noted in the PDF, as well as older individuals who do not exactly know how to use newfangled things like streaming services. These are your non-infringers, your non-pirates. Now you would assume that because they do not pirate stuff they would pay MORE for media right? Nope. Because it’s about access to media. I highly doubt these older or uninformed people know just how much content is at their fingertips, that they can get what they want, that there’s more than whats in the DVD isle or on Amazon. So they pay for your more standard entertainment and not much more.
Next we have that middle group. The pirates that are the scourge of big studios! And yet, the reality completely counters the narratives that these big studios constantly spout. The big studios say that pirates are stealing the world from them, that they won’t be able to make movies, to live! Yet studios are making record profits on their film franchises AND this middle group? Yeah they pay more for the media they love. My bet is that this group pays for what it wants and since not everything they want is available at a reasonable price or on demand they resort to piracy to continue to engage with the content they enjoy.
The pirates are just pirates. I mean, it’s self explanatory isn’t it? They want what THEY want and don’t really care about the abstract implications of their actions. Naturally they don’t pay for anything.
Anyways, the point is that people absolutely do pay for media, for the tv shows and movies, for the comics and music that they enjoy. The big studio narrative of the world ending because of piracy is just wrong. They merely want the highest prices possible, at the lowest quality possible, while paying artists the lowest wages possible.