Saturday, October 27, 2007

Pirate Busters

A Bangkok Post story today "Fighting the pirates" says there was a US-led anti-piracy conference in Bangkok this week. The was 60 police, customs officials and prosecutors from 13 countries attending. I think the key words from this is "US-led", as the US are very keen to pressure countries such as Thailand to clamp down on counterfeit products.

In the article, A US Cyber spook said "counterfeit products not only hurt the economy, but are also a serious threat to the health and safety of everyone". For Thailand, I can see the safety aspect from what he is saying in relation to fake aircraft parts and pharmaceuticals. As far as the economy side goes I think a broad crackdown on every thing pirated would only be beneficial to the US. I do not think Thailand would be to keen to crack down on it's clothing industry as this would seriously harm the local economy and put many people out of work.

The current strategy against piracy using IP law enforcement, I feel is currently flawed. It is aimed at keeping retail prices high to possibly maximize profits. The discrepancy here is the difference in price between the real product and the pirated copy. The difference only encourages crime as the customers are looking for value for money. Parts of the software industry has been forced through Open Source to change to charging for services rather the software itself. Companies like Sun actually give their software away. At first this may sound like a dumb idea, how does Sun make money by making something free? There is a method to the madness. Charging $0 for Solaris encourages many more people to deploy it. This gives Sun a great opportunity to sell more hardware and services based around Solaris. Will this work for other industries? In short it depends on product. I feel that companies need to look for new approaches to getting profit from their product to make piracy less attractive. The law enforcement approach is not working. It just changes your customers into criminals.

Post Note: My favorite gem from the article - "the mass production and distribution of counterfeit goods such as optical discs". I think the counterfeit goods here is actually the content on the disc rather then the actual disc itself :)

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