Accumulation, control and contingency: A critical review of intellectual property rights’ ‘piracy’, by Yiannis Mylonas. First Monday, Volume 16, Number 12 - 5 December 2011

Abstract: This article problematizes piracy a) as a hegemonic discourse and technology of control, aiming to securitize late capitalist accumulation; b) as a practice developed by the multitudes that is compatible to post–Fordist mode of production and to neoliberal norms; and, c) as resistance to dominant mode of late capitalist production, distribution and consumption of immaterial goods. The article addresses and criticizes capitalism’s ‘organic’ and strategic colonization of fundamental social commons, such as culture, intellectual goods, as well as human creativity and communication, by looking at the ideological, institutional and material processes that reproduce the capitalist ‘machine’. This paper concludes by considering the possibility of overcoming the capitalist approach to commons, through the politicization of IPR as well as through the connection of the problem they pose to broader social perspectives, confronting capitalism — in its post political disguises — politically.

Kalika N. Doloswala and Ann Dadich (2011). The accidental criminal: Using policy to curb illegal downloading. First Monday, Volume 16, Number 6 - 6

ABSTRACT: Illegal downloading is a multifaceted social issue. In addition to the loss of intellectual property and revenue for copyright holders, it can implicate perpetrators into the criminal justice system. Despite legislative attempts to curb illegal downloading, lessons to date suggest these do little to reduce the activity. Drawing on psychological literature, this paper offers an innovative approach to address illegal downloading. Attribution theory aims to aid understanding of the causes of human behaviour and highlights the important role of perception. It suggests that illegal downloading might be moderated by increasing opportunities for engagement between the owners and users of intellectual property. Rather than using policy and legislation to restrain access to intellectual property, this theory suggests that policy that closes proximal distances and creates psychological contracts might be effective in curbing these practices. Examples from the music industry are discussed as evidence that this approach can be successful in changing downloader behaviour. To date, public policy informed by attribution theory has not been tested as a way to prevent illegal downloading. The paper concludes that there is a need to examine and critically evaluate non–punitive approaches to curbing illegal downloading from a policy perspective.

A major new independent report to the UK Prime Minister on his country’s intellectual property laws is out. Digital Opportunity: A Review of Intellectual Property and Growth could hardly make its position clearer: the UK has lost its way when it comes to copyright policy.

We urge Government to ensure that in future, policy on Intellectual Property issues is constructed on the basis of evidence, rather than weight of lobbying…

On copyright issues, lobbying on behalf of rights owners has been more persuasive to Ministers than economic impact assessments…

Much of the data needed to develop empirical evidence on copyright and designs is privately held. It enters the public domain chiefly in the form of 'evidence' supporting the arguments of lobbyists (‘lobbynomics’) rather than as independently verified research conclusions…

Estimates of the scale of illegal digital downloads in the UK ranges between 13 per cent and 65 per cent in two studies published last year. A detailed survey of UK and international data finds that very little of it is supported by transparent research criteria. Meanwhile sales and profitability levels in most creative business sectors appear to be holding up reasonably well. We conclude that many creative businesses are experiencing turbulence from digital copyright infringement, but that at the level of the whole economy, measurable impacts are not as stark as is sometimes suggested.

… Un reconocido músico se ha lanzado con todo a defender la ley Sinde, bajo el argumento de que las descargas son el cáncer de la industria. Por el contrario, Gómez Jurado respondió con un texto en el que insta a las industrias a reinventarse bajo este nuevo ecosistema digital. Provocativo y pendenciero, el cantante reviró desafiando a Gómez Jurado a que liberara sin costo su novela. “Si tienes huevos”, le retó el intérprete.

Y Gómez Jurado lo hizo. El fin de semana anunció en Twitter que su novela Espía de Dios —bestseller en 42 países— podría ser descargada sin ningún compromiso. Lo único que el autor pidió a cambio es que la gente donara un euro (o más) a Save the Children. “Dios mío, cuánto proxeneta, narcotraficante y ladrón del todo gratis que anda hoy donando a Save The Children”, respondió Gómez Jurado al ver el tremendo éxito de su iniciativa…

Media Piracy in Emerging Economies

About the Report | Media Piracy in Emerging Economies | A Report by the Social Science Research Council

Media Piracy in Emerging Economies is the first independent, large-scale study of music, film and software piracy in emerging economies, with a focus on Brazil, India, Russia, South Africa, Mexico and Bolivia.

Based on three years of work by some thirty-five researchers, Media Piracy in Emerging Economies tells two overarching stories: one tracing the explosive growth of piracy as digital technologies became cheap and ubiquitous around the world, and another following the growth of industry lobbies that have reshaped laws and law enforcement around copyright protection. The report argues that these efforts have largely failed, and that the problem of piracy is better conceived as a failure of affordable access to media in legal markets.

“The choice,” said Joe Karaganis, director of the project, “isn’t between high piracy and low piracy in most media markets. The choice, rather, is between high-piracy, high-price markets and high-piracy, low price markets. Our work shows that media businesses can survive in both environments, and that developing countries have a strong interest in promoting the latter. This problem has little to do with enforcement and a lot to do with fostering competition.”

Major Findings

  • Prices are too high. High prices for media goods, low incomes, and cheap digital technologies are the main ingredients of global media piracy. 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. Legal media markets are correspondingly tiny and underdeveloped.
  • Competition is good. The chief predictor of low prices in legal media markets is the presence of strong domestic companies that compete for local audiences and consumers. In the developing world, where global film, music, and software companies dominate the market, such conditions are largely absent.
  • Antipiracy education has failed.The authors find no significant stigma attached to piracy in any of the countries examined. Rather, piracy is part of the daily media practices of large and growing portions of the population.
  • Changing the law is easy. Changing the practice is hard. Industry lobbies have been very successful at changing laws to criminalize these practices, but largely unsuccessful at getting governments to apply them. There is, the authors argue, no realistic way to reconcile mass enforcement and due process, especially in countries with severely overburdened legal systems.
  • Criminals can’t compete with free. The study finds no systematic links between media piracy and organized crime or terrorism in any of the countries examined. Today, commercial pirates and transnational smugglers face the same dilemma as the legal industry: how to compete with free.
  • Enforcement hasn’t worked. After a decade of ramped up enforcement, the authors can find no impact on the overall supply of pirated goods.