Consumers Fear Higher Internet Bills if ISPs are forced to Monitor and Sanction Customers

Sydney, 12 November 2014 – Most Australians consumers fear they will face higher internet bills if internet service providers (ISPs) are forced to shoulder the responsibility for identifying, monitoring and punishing people who illegally download content from the internet, according to extensive new research released by Communications Alliance today.

The research shows that most Australians agree the illegal downloading of content from the internet is a national problem, but see early availability of affordable content as a key to combatting the so-called “piracy”.

Other findings include that:

  • More consumers favour market-based remedies to combat illegal downloading, as opposed to regulatory or legislative measures; and
  • Australians believe they are paying more than 200% more than the ‘optimal price’ for downloaded television episodes.

The report released by Communications Alliance today was undertaken by JWS Research and included a national online survey of 1,500 respondents, conducted between 22 and 27 October this year.

Communications Alliance CEO, John Stanton, said the report highlighted that 55% of Australian agree that illegal downloads are a problem in Australia, and a majority of Australians recognise that content creators – writers and creative artists of many descriptions – are the hardest hit by the illegal activity.

But when asked whether stronger legislation was needed to combat piracy, two- thirds of Australians (66%) believed that if content distributors offered cheaper, fairer pricing, people would not download illegally. Sixty per cent of respondents believed that if content was made available in the same time as it is available elsewhere, this would also act against the practice of illegal downloads.

“This research comes as the Government considers responses to its discussion paper on online copyright policy options. It paints a picture not of a nation of rampant pirates, but rather a majority of people who agree that action taken should include steps to reduce the market distortions that contribute to piracy”, Mr Stanton said.

He also acknowledged that some rights holders have made efforts during the past year to improve availability and pricing.

“There is a strong alignment in many of the viewpoints of those surveyed and the major internet service provider (ISP) members of Communications Alliance.

ISPs do not condone or authorise online copyright infringement, nor accept that concerns over pricing are a justification for improper behaviour. ISPs are committed to finding equitable and practical approaches to combat it – preferably in cooperation with Rights Holders”.

“In our submissions to Government on these issues we have stressed the need for a multi-faceted approach to online copyright infringement – a scenario in which all stakeholders have a constructive role to play. For our part this has included moving toward a cooperative ‘follow-the-money’ strategy designed to restrict the advertising revenues flowing to websites that promote or facilitate online copyright infringement.”

Mr Stanton noted that 30% of respondents to the survey felt that online copyright infringement in Australia was either “not much of a problem” or not a problem at all. The existence of this minority – most typically young, male, tech-savvy and familiar with downloading - further highlighted the need for public education to form part of any multi-faceted solution.

A pricing sensitivity model (see slide 8 in pack), derived from survey responses, indicated that in respondents’ minds the ideal price for a downloaded television episode is in the range of Aud$1.20 to $1.70. This compares with the current local HD download per-episode price of $3.49.

When asked in the latest research about alternative (i.e. non-regulatory) approaches to combat online copyright infringement:

  • 79% of respondents felt there needed to be continuous improvement in the availability and cost of online content to Australian consumers;
  • 62% supported the creation of an educational program, with ISPs sending up to three notices to alleged infringers; and
  • 60% agreed that Rights Holders should reimburse the reasonable costs of internet service providers (ISPs) that assist them in fighting piracy.

A summary of the research report is available at: 


Communications Alliance is the primary telecommunications industry body in Australia. Its membership is drawn from a wide cross-section of the communications industry, including carriers, carriage and internet service providers, content providers,search engines, equipment vendors, IT companies, consultants and business groups.

Its vision is to provide a unified voice for the telecommunications industry and to lead it into the next generation of converging networks, technologies and services. The prime mission of Communications Alliance is to promote the growth of the Australian communications industry and the protection of consumer interests by fostering the highest standards of business ethics and behaviour through industry self-governance. For more details about Communications Alliance, see

Media information contact:

Kreab Gavin Anderson

Lucy Chamberlain 
0402 106 613