AFACT: Australia Lost Over $1.3 Billion to Film Piracy in 2010

More than 6,000 jobs were lost in the movie industry because of illegal film distribution, the report says.

SYDNEY -- Film piracy cost the Australian economy around AUS$1.37 billion ($1.34 billion) last year according to a new report, The Economic Consequences of Movie Piracy, Australia, commissioned and released Thursday by the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft. 

The research, conducted by U.K. firms Ipsos and Oxford Economics, determined that direct consumer losses to the movie industry were $575 million, while in total 6,100 jobs were foregone across the Australian economy. 

Further it was estimated that 92 million pirated movies were viewed or obtained within the 12-month period, while a third of the Australian adult population has openly admitted to participating in movie theft by downloading, streaming, buying counterfeit, borrowing unauthorised copies or burning DVDs.  

By comparison the value of feature film production in Australia last year was $265 million, while the national box office figures last year were just over $1 billion. 

Australian actor Roy Billing branded the figures “staggering” and said they underscored that “piracy remains the biggest threat to the sustainability of the industry worldwide."

He said that piracy is now a bigger revenue generator for organized crime than the drug trade and that Oscar contender The King's Speech is currently in the top 10 pirated films of all time with BitTorrent.

However  he said that changes to behavior would be slow, and likened the task to that of drunk-driving campaigns that taken years to change people's behavior. 

AFACT executive director Neil Gane said the “losses are significant” and the reports highlighted the “the need for urgency in addressing this problem."

”The report provides the Australian public with the knowledge of the destructive impact of movie theft, the consequences of their actions and allows those involved in online piracy to ‘think before they click,'" he said. 

AFACT, would continue with its multifaceted approach, which includes awareness campaigns, education and enforcement, and noted the industry needed to work more closely with Internet services providers to curb online piracy.  

On approach there he said was to get ISPs to issue education notices to customers that can be identified as illegally downloading, a strategy that has had some success in the U.K. and France according to Gain.  

“Seven out of 10 household members or account holders who receive a warning will change their behavior when notified by their service provider – it’s a gradual process of education,” Gane said. 

The figures, gleaned from telephone interviews with 3,500 Australian adults, are conservative as the research showed that not every pirated viewing of a film equated to a lost sale. 

The report only quantified piracy losses for the film sector and did not include television.