Citizens think piracy as commonplace as the internet

The Social Science Research Council (SSRC) has released its 436-page study “Media Piracy in Emerging Economies”.

35 researchers spent three years compiling data and working on the report, which is set to become the new, definite benchmark for all future studies and, hopefully, for laws and policies related to media piracy and consumer rights.

“Media Piracy in Emerging Economies” focuses on how “piracy” has grown many-fold since the advent of digital technology, and how the industry started to lobby for tougher laws and law enforcement. According to the SSRC, “piracy”, or sharing of copies, is seen by citizens to be as commonplace as the internet.

Industry lobbyists and education efforts have failed miserably in telling consumers they shouldn’t be doing the nasty things they have been doing since cassette recorders appeared.

Nonetheless, lobbyists have been succesful in persuading hapless and clueless politicians and lawmakers to conjur up bills to shove through parliament and down the throats of voters, despite the latter not asking for them.

According to the study, high prices are in part to blame for piracy of media goods – “relative to local incomes in Brazil, Russia, or South Africa, the retail price of a CD, DVD, or copy of MS Office is five to ten times higher than in the US or Europe,” claims the study.

This is due to the absence of domestic companies distributing goods for a price designed to be competitive in a local markets. Instead, large corporations set prices no one can afford, thus piracy thrives. Or, put simply, people will download if there aren’t outlets selling DVDs, CDs etc. for five quid or less, such as HMV or Amazon.

On the enforcement side of the matter, the judicial systems in every country can certainly do without the extra burden of having to follow-up petty downloading cases, especially considering “piracy” is seen as a matter of course by citizens. “Enforcement hasn’t worked. After a decade of ramped up enforcement, the authors can find no impact on the overall supply of pirated goods,” bluntly states the SSRC.

Another myth is also done away with, namely that there is some sort of link between media piracy and organised crime, or even terrorism. “Today, commercial pirates and transnational smugglers face the same dilemma as the legal industry: how to compete with free.”