Earlier this year, we wrote about
the absolutely wonderful, detailed and insightful SSRC Report
on "Media Piracy," which made it clear (through actual research and data) that "piracy" is almost never a legal or enforcement problem, as many industry folks insist, but rather a business model problem. To drive this point home, Joe Karaganis, who put the report together, has written up a short article for the Huffington Post, putting the economic realities into clear and easy to understand terms
This may seem like an obvious conclusion but it is strikingly absent from policy conversations about intellectual property, which focus almost exclusively on strengthening enforcement. Nowhere in the industry literature or in major policy statements like the US Trade Representative's annual Special 301 reports will you find an acknowledgement of piracy's underlying causes: the fact that, in most parts of the world, digital media technologies have become much much cheaper without any corresponding increase in access to legal, affordable media goods. DVDs, CDs, and software in Brazil, Russia, Mexico, or South Africa, for example, are still priced at US and European levels, resulting in tiny legal markets accessible to only fractions of the population. Would you pay $136 for a Tron Legacy DVD (the relative price in Mexico, adjusted for local incomes)? How about a $7300 copy of Adobe's Creative Suite? I didn't think so.
Karaganis explains why these firms may have incentive to do this, but notes that this completely goes against the official policy positions of those pushing for laws like PROTECT IP. What becomes clear is that PROTECT IP isn't at all about protecting content. It's about protecting and propping up the legacy business models of a few companies who don't want to adapt.