Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Inappropriate pricing, root of piracy – Report

Inappropriate pricing has been described the root of piracy globally of media products like Compact Disc, Digital Video Display (DVD) among others, according to the report made public recently by a United States’ led Social Science Research Council (SSRC).

Just as adequate pricing is said to be the best solution for the rise in piracy, especially developing economies like in Africa.

The editor of the report tagged ‘Media Piracy in Emerging Economies,’ Mr. Joe Karaganis, noted that price comparisons between pirated and licit goods in different countries offer a simple but powerful insights on the organization of national media markets.

To illustrate these differences, he said, they had compared the most common legal prices of a range of media goods to the most common pirate prices and then translated those numbers into a “comparative purchasing power” (CPP) price that reflected how expensive the item would be for Americans, for instance, if priced at an equivalent percentage of US per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The report also found that prices of goods vary according to a range of factors, including the location of sale, perceptions of demand, and—in the pirate market—differences in quality, packaging, and degree of bundling of goods on a single disc.

“Currency fluctuations also have a large impact on price comparisons. To facilitate comparison, we focused on single-title, high-quality Compact Disc (CD) and Digital Video Display (DVD) equivalents of licit goods,” the report observed.

The report conducted in partnership with several organizations including the Overmundo Institute of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Center for Technology and Society of Getulio Vargas Foundation, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil ; Sarai, the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies of India; The Alternative Law Forum also of India; South African based Association for Progressive Communications, the Russian Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology; the Program on Information Justice  and Intellectual Property as well as the Washington College of Law, American University, Washington, DC, USA.

As said by him, the project was funded by the duo of the International Development Research Centre based in Ottawa, Canada and The Ford Foundation of United States.

Further, the report decried that fact that piracy has been on the rise and with broadband internet this may astronomically increase globally, especially with some cable landing on the continent in the coming months.

They cited an instance with South Africa, which as at summer of 2009 was linked to the wider global Internet by a single undersea cable, with a very modest total capacity of .8 gigabytes per second. Broadband services, they said, have been correspondingly expensive and low speed and with more cables coming into and across the continent with potential to reduce the cost, this may spur piracy.

“The vast majority of consumer services come with bandwidth caps in the vicinity of 3 gigabytes per month—a level easily surpassed by streaming a single high-definition movie,” they noted, adding that the quality of South African broadband services also ranks near the bottom of international surveys as at two years ago, just as most Internet Service Providers (ISPs) were unable to guarantee consistent performance for even common video services, such as YouTube.

In this context, the report pointed out that the uptake of bandwidth-intensive Peer-to-Peer (P2P) services in South Africa has been very limited.

The report said, the bandwidth shortage, however, is expected to ease as new undersea cables come into service.

Total bandwidth in and out of South Africa should improve to 2.58 gigabytes per second in 2010 and according to plans SA is expecting 10.5 terabytes per second by the year 2013 quoting World Wide Worx of 2009 to buttress their point.

“Internet stakeholders on all sides expect that this increase will bring cheaper, better broadband services. As computers, storage, and playback technologies also become more widely available, South African participation in both the licit and the illicit global digital media economies is likely to expand dramatically,” the report submitted.

Remmy Nweke
ITREALMS Online ... delivering news for ICT4D

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