You’ve probably heard the term ‘Australia Tax’ thrown around quite a bit in the media and it certainly deserves the attention it gets. We’ve always paid more for physical products in Australia due to our location and the cost of shipping goods here and distributing them. However is it fair that we also pay a great deal more than other countries for digital products? After all what extra costs are there to justify if the product is simply distributed over the internet?
Late last year the Federal Government put together an inquiry to investigate this issue and whether the extra cost imposed by companies for the sale of digital products in Australia could be justified.
The House of Representatives Committee has handed down its report and within its pages are recommendations for some significant changes to copyright and competition law in Australia to limit the difference in prices we pay for digital goods in comparison with people in other countries. The report titled ‘At What Cost? It Pricing and the Australia Tax’ investigated the cost of digital products, including music, ebooks, games and software.
The Committee found that in Australia we often pay more for a range of products than people in other countries, even when the product was wholly digital and exactly the same. They also found that many major online vendors and copyright holders have implemented regional pricing strategies that have prejudiced people in Australia.
As a result of these findings several recommendations were made in relation to copyright, including:
- Rolling back all parallel importation restrictions;
- Amending the Copyright Act to allow for people to legally circumvent any technological protection measures imposed by a company that control geographic market segmentation;
- Investigating the introduction of a ‘right of resale’ for digital content and clarifying that 'fair use rights' are available to consumers, business and educational institutions; and
- Investigating the implementation of a blanket ban on geoblocking.
The report was seen as a first step in addressing the ‘Australia Tax’ problem that we currently face, where it has be proven that it would be cheaper to buy a return plane ticket to America and physically buy the product, than it would be to download the product here at its Australian price.
Who else thinks it’s not right that we pay $1.29 for a song on iTunes, while in the US they only pay 99c?