When Australians go online to find the latest movies, TV shows and music, nearly half of them – 43 percent – use illegal sources, new research reveals.
Despite legal services like Spotify and Netflix moving into Australia, those surveyed who admitted being pirates said they'd end their buccaneering ways if content was cheaper (39 percent), more available (38 percent) and released on the same day as it was overseas (36 percent).
The figure is much higher than in the UK, where similar research found only a fifth of music and movie fans were still illegally downloading regularly.
In the UK piracy has dropped significantly since 2013, mirroring the growing popularity of legal streaming services. Netflix didn't launch in Australia until the end of March this year, in the middle of the survey period.
In the Australian study, researchers spoke to 2630 people aged 12 and over, and found 48 percent of those who'd gone online for entertainment had illegally downloaded a movie; 37 percent had nabbed some music; 33 percent a TV show; and 22 percent, a game.
That 48 percent makes up just over quarter of all internet users in Australia.
In comparison, in the UK only 25 percent had illegally downloaded a movie; 26 percent, music; 21 percent, TV; and 18 percent, games.
Australian Minister of Communications Malcolm Turnbull, whose office commissioned the research, said it highlighted the need to develop and enforce effective codes and regulations around internet piracy.
"However, rights holders' most powerful tool to combat online copyright infringement is making content accessible, timely and affordable to consumers," his office said in a statement.
Last month the Australian parliament passed a Bill which gives copyright owners the ability to apply for court orders that would require internet service providers to block foreign websites that provide or facilitate illegal filesharing.
Labor Party MP says high prices are largely to blame for the high rates of illegal downloading in Australia.
"Theoretically, the costs of physically getting a product to Australia, for example a DVD, have been eliminated – therefore the prices should drop considerably. But this hasn't happened because many rights holders won't pass these savings on to customers or free up the way consumers get content," he wrote in the party's newsletter Labor Herald on the weekend.
"As a result, some consumers turn to websites offering free, pirated material."
A survey conducted last year by Horizon Research found 21 percent of Kiwis have illegally downloaded material, with music the most popular, followed by movies, TV shows and books.