updated 12:45 am EDT, Wed March 16, 2011
Solution said to be regional pricing strategies
A group of researchers has released a report, labeled the Media Piracy Project, that describes the prevalence of content piracy in emerging economies as a problem of inflexible pricing rather than enforcement. The researchers have focused on the cost of software, movies and albums relative to the average wages in various countries.
As an example of the pricing disparity, the group points to legally distributed copies of the movie The Dark Night. The film sells legally in the US and Russia for approximately $15; when the price is adjusted to reflect the average wages in Russia, however, it actually equates to the US equivalent of $75.
The researchers suggest the widespread popularity of pirated content in developing countries is a simple result of the inflexible pricing models, as genuine copies of copyrighted works are simply too expensive for many average citizens.
"High prices for media goods, low incomes, and cheap digital technologies are the main ingredients of global media piracy," the group writes. "If piracy is ubiquitous in most parts of the world, it is because these conditions are ubiquitous."
The authors of the report claim that pricing reforms or other strategies will be the only effective tools to battle piracy, as tougher rules and expanded enforcement is viewed as unlikely to make any significant impact. The group admits, however, that it may be a while before "such accommodations to reality reach the international policy arena." [via Ars Technica]