Joe Karaganis of the Social Science Research Council on 2 February 2010 gave a presentation entitled Media Piracy in Emerging Economies, at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. Here is the abstract:
Joe Karaganis will discuss findings from a forthcoming six-country study of media piracy, including work on Russia, India, Brazil, Mexico, and South Africa. The study provides a rare empirical look at the organization of piracy and enforcement in developing countries, and explores the transformation of both as the optical disk economy give way to digital distribution.
Some findings of the research that may be of particular interest to legal informatics and legal communication scholars include:
- Factors contributing to piracy differ markedly among different types of intellectual property;
- Pricing appears to be a key factor contributing to piracy of music, films, and software distributed on tangible media (such as DVDs);
- Prices of pirated media distributed on disc have plummeted in recent years, due to growth of the number of production facilities, reduction in the cost of raw materials and of distribution, and competition from online media;
- Most empirical research on media piracy is conducted by the media industries;
- The “Special 301” process administered by the U.S. Trade Representative, through which the U.S. Government encourages its trading partners to improve intellectual property enforcement, is a key context for, and influence on, media industry piracy research and the U.S. and international policy debate about media piracy;
- The quality of media industry research respecting the costs of media piracy is questionable but improving;
- Media industry piracy research methodologies are insufficiently disclosed, such that results of that research generally cannot be replicated;
- To the extent that questionable media industry piracy research serves as a basis for U.S. trade policy respecting international intellectual property enforcement, that policy process lacks transparency and the empirical foundation for the policy appears to lack credibility;
- Outside of the U.S., media piracy enforcement has so far been focused on distributors and retailers, not on consumers; but this may change in the coming years, as online distribution in emerging economies supersedes distribution on disc;
- Consumers in emerging economies who purchase pirated media goods are generally aware of the pirated nature of the goods, because of price signalling, but consumers purchase the pirated goods anyway; this suggests that social and moral norms respecting consumption of pirated media are not aligned with legal norms;
- In many emerging economies, enforcement has substantially disrupted formal retail distribution of pirated media, but this has generally not resulted in reduced consumption of pirated media; rather, enforcement has caused the retail market to shift to more informal and mobile venues, such as street vendors.