October 2011 Archives

Market Failure and Piracy

The historical popularity of file sharing owes as much to access as to price. Back around the turn of the century when musical lovers were clamoring for the ability to buy legal downloads, but didn't have a way to do that easier than piracy until Apple opened the iTunes store?

Dan Messer, Not All Bits, Warner Bros. Locking Down Harry Potter and Screwing Themselves "Hey, they tried to give someone, anyone, some money for this product and they were denied a legal avenue to do so at every turn. So, right or wrong, ethical or not, they acted upon the wantingness, the desire, created by Disney, and then removed Disney from the equation. Then they went out and gave that money to someone who would sell them some popcorn to snack on while watching the movie."

All else equal, music, TV and film buyers don't mind spending money on media when they know that it will be convenient and high quality. The hassles and risks of file sharing make sense when the paid alternative is both more difficult and more expensive or simply does not exist at all.