Can pirates lead a pricing revolution?

Who else? The number of multi-media “pirates” seem to be growing in number so fast that within the next five years a vast majority of media consumers will have joined their “revolution”. Is this really what it means to be a pirate? Yes, although I doubt the title matters, actually, other than to describe the phenomenon of the public resisting price-fixing and over-charging by giant media companies.

The big problem was that everyone, except the media companies themselves, seemed to know that manufacturing and distributing music and video was far below the graft-full $15 to $50 that the moguls want to charge. But for some reason the guys making all the money weren’t about to let the market function rationally (similar to petroleum companies?) since they knew that they had crafted “exclusive distribution rights” to the source material — a giant stick called digital rights and copyright law that they could beat consumers over the head with. Imagine a king saying to the peasants “what do you mean I don’t deserve to own all this land by virtue of birth?” Well, the essential problem is that the labels, even with their giant lobby groups and lawyers, are essentially working against human nature. Remember when American politicians used to say that the USSR could never survive because it was an artificial construct that could never overcome human nature? Yeah, well, when everyone in the world thinks your model is ready to be torn apart, I guess the king had better start thinking about letting the castle walls down before the crowds become unruly — find a way to form their own system of self-rule.

From that perspective I give you news that Warner Brothers has decided to sell DVDs for $1.50:

Warner Home Video has begun trial sales in China of a movie DVD priced at just Rmb12 ($1.50), a move likely to anger consumers in developed markets such as Europe and the US, who typically pay $20-$30 for a recently released film on DVD.[…] “This is a first step to see if the consumer can accept this product at this price,” Ms Hu said, adding that it was too early to judge the results of the experiment.

The article blames “loose enforcement of intellectual property laws” in China, but that’s just another way of saying that the life of pirates has become more popular than a life of the indentured servant. My guess is that the surveys say 10 out of 10 people do not want to have to pay an excessive use-tax without representation for everything they do and enjoy, whether that money goes to a king or a company.

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