Australian digital users illegally download content regularly - survey

Cables at the back of a computer Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Many Australians are unsure about what material they can download for free

Nearly half of Australia's digital users illegally download movies, TV shows and music on a regular basis, a government survey has found.

Illegal downloads would lessen if content was cheaper and available at the same time as in other countries.

In comparison, the research found, a fifth of British digital users illegal downloaded at least one digital file.

The research comes amid an Australian government crackdown on digital copyright infringement.

It has amended the Copyright Act 1968 to block overseas websites that infringe copyright.

Movies popular

The survey by the Department of Communications was modelled on UK Government research that has been conducted since 2012.

Both countries conducted surveys between March and May this year to measure online copyright infringement across different content types.

At least 43% of online consumers had infringed online copyright, which represents 26% of all Australian internet users.

The survey of 2630 Australians found movies were the most illegally downloaded material, with 48% of those surveyed illegally downloading at least one movie during the three-month period.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Australians were quick to downloaded The Dallas Buyers' Club, starring Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto

The Department of Communications said in a statement the best way to combat online infringements was for content creators to make their material easy to access, timely and affordable to consumers.

The body for the communications industry concurred with this.

"It is interesting that almost three quarters of those internet users who consumed content illegally were also accessing content legally," said Communications Alliance Chief Executive Officer John Stanton.

In April, an Australian court ordered internet service providers to hand over details of customers accused of illegally downloading US movie The Dallas Buyers Club .

Australians are among the world's most regular illegal downloaders of digital content.

The delay in release dates for new films and TV shows, and higher prices in Australia for digital content, have prompted many Australians to find surreptitious ways to watch new shows.

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