How Aussies Pay More For Digital Entertainment

August 25, 2015
The Australia Tax, digital content, digital entertainment, Australia

Congratulations, if you’re one of the millions of Aussies who have purchased digital content from iTunes, Microsoft or Adobe, you’ve paid the suckers tax – aka The Australia Tax – and have possibly been overcharged more than 400 per cent for your digital content than residents in places like the US and UK.

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Now, if you’ve never heard of The Australia Tax I’m not surprised. It’s not exactly something big corporations like to boast about or even admit to. If you’d like some proof that we are paying more checkout this video of Shantanu Narayen – he’s the CEO of Adobe.

Back in 2013 he did his absolute best to avoid answering questions relating to massively inflated prices, specifically for Australian residents. It was almost comical the way he tried to pay dumb, but it’s our cold hard cash at stake here, so it’s really no laughing matter.

So what is The Australia Tax?

So, what is this mysterious Australia Tax? Well, remember how Australia basically dodged that global financial crisis thing a few years back? Apparently because we didn’t crash and burn, global corporations who specialise in digital content came up with a plan for Australians to fill their coffers.

The rationale behind this idea was that Australian consumers could afford to pay more than citizens of the US and other countries. So since then, any digital purchases made from devices with an Australian IP address are charged at what’s become infamously known as The Australia Tax.

How much more are Australians paying?

So just how much more are we paying? Generally it’s around 50 per cent more than people in other countries for exactly the same music, software and other digital content. So if you have a Photoshop subscription with Adobe, you’ll pay AU$9.99 per month while US residents only pay US$4.99. Now that may only sound like a few bucks, but if you add it up over a year or so, it soon mounts up.

Then there’s content which cost Aussies considerably more. For example, Aussie artist Sia’s album went to number one in the US. Why not here in Australia? Well despite being home grown talent, the singer’s album cost us 82 per cent more because purchases were from the Australian iTunes store not the US counterpart.

Unfortunately, it gets a heck of a lot worse. Apparently, Google Play charged Aussies 219 per cent more than US Netflix subscribers to watch the second season of Orange is the New Black. At the time, Aussies couldn’t get access to Netflix so Foxtel charged their beloved Aussie customers a whopping 431 per cent more for exactly the same content!

What’s been the result of The Australia Tax?

Instead of Australian authorities standing up for residents and putting an end to this consumer madness, it’s basically created a nation of pirates. That’s right, piracy in Australia has been linked to The Australia Tax. So what’s happened is that many Aussies are sick and tired of paying inflated prices for digital content, so their way around it has been to download content for free.

This is why we’ve had a new wave of piracy laws – it makes perfect sense really. Now this hasn’t abolished the Australia Tax and according to Choice magazine authorities who have implemented the piracy laws haven’t even acknowledged why rates of this illegal activity have skyrocketed over recent years. Instead, the publication strongly believes that a better solution would have been to remove the Australia Tax, which I’m sure most Aussies would agree.

Can we get around paying The Australia Tax?

The bottom line of this conversation is; can we avoid this notorious tax? Abso-frigin-lutley! But, you’ve got to do a little bit of homework. It’s not rocket science, it is legal (for how long we need to wait and see) and it will save you money on music, movies and even essential software.

The way the tax works is that it’s added when a purchase comes from an Australian IP address. Geo-blocking systems recognise that they have an Aussie sucker on the other end wanting to download some digital content.  You can get around this by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or a DNS-based service.

If you aren’t tech savvy but are tired of paying more for your digital content, Choice have a great article called bypassing geo-blocked sites. It talks a bit more in detail about the Australia Tax and more importantly, how to by pass it.

So that’s The Australia Tax in a nutshell. How it’s legal for Australians to be charged more for the same content in the first place is a mystery. However, it’s time we fight back and bypass it whenever we can.

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