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IT pricing inquiry condemns Australia Tax

A House of Representatives inquiry into IT pricing has found that Australians pay a higher price for technology, including games software, which is not justified by import and other local costs.

In a press release, the House of Representatives Infrastructure and Communications Committee said that Australians pay higher prices for IT products than international customers do.

"The committee found that big IT companies and copyright holders charge Australians, on average, an extra 50 per cent, a practice consumers call the ‘Australia Tax’", committee chair Nick Champion MP said.

"While companies should remain free to set their own prices, the committee took the view that there are a number of ways in which Australia can act to increase competition in IT markets, which should reduce prices over time."

In its full report, the committee made several broad recommendations, chief amongst which are:

  • a consumer education campaign, to help consumers find cheaper goods online
  • reforms to the Competition and Consumer Act and the Copyright Act to remove barriers to competition, foster innovation, and ensure consumer rights are not lost in
    the transition to digital content
  • action to reduce the impact of high prices on Australia’s most vulnerable social groups – the disabled, students, and low-income Australians

However, there are a few specific recommendations which are of particular interest to gamers - the removal of a ban on parallel or "grey" importing, and the potential removal of legal enforcement of geoblocking; this last would allow Australians access to international pricing on digital distribution like Steam and GOG.com. The Committe said that should no other option be found, a blanket ban on geoblocking may be the only resort.

On top of that, the Committee recommended the Government consider a "right of resale" system on digital goods - something that has recently been gaining traction in Germany.

Thanks, MCV Pacific.

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