Copyright infringement and high prices

Just a quick note to highlight the release of a new study, Media Piracy in Developing Countries. One of its main points seems to be that copyright infringement in these countries is largely driven by the high (monopoly) prices that companies charge for their wares in countries like Mexico, where almost half the population lives below the poverty line. I’ve only read the introduction and the Mexican case study (which has lots of good information on the Mexican informal sector in general and Tepito in particular), but seeing as just this morning I was hoping for more copyright scholarship focused on empirical issues, I can’t wait to read the rest of the report. I’ll even forgive their use of the word “piracy” in their title.

For the record, its case studies are South Africa, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, Bolivia and India. They also have a few chapters focused on more big-picture issues.

It also strikes me that the report, which was funded in part by Canada’s International Development Research Council, is focused on the big picture:

we see little connection between these enforcement discussions [around copyright] and the larger problem of how to foster rich, accessible, legal cultural markets in developing countries—the problem that motivates much of our work.

This is exactly what we need: a greater focus on spurring cultural production, an openness to different ways of doing so, and less of a focus on copyright as an end unto itself.

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