New study blames capitalism for piracy in developing nations


A Canadian study suggests that piracy is often a matter of necessity.

A new study appearing in the book Media Piracy in Emerging Economies suggests that piracy is often a matter of necessity. The three year study was conducted by the Social Science Research Council with funding from Canada’s International Development Research Center and looked at six developing nations – South Africa, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, Bolivia and India – and found that piracy is so prevalent those areas because the price of media is far too high and the people simply don’t have the means to purchase entertainment legally.

“Relative to local incomes in Brazil, Russia, or South Africa, the retail price of a CD, DVD, or copy of [Microsoft] Office is five to ten times higher than in the US or Europe,” says the study website.

That means that consoles and $60 games are often beyond the budget of average citizens, and gamers are more than willing to play pirated material in order to get their fix. The legal systems in these places are also undeveloped (at least when it comes to things like piracy), and violent crime is usually a more pressing concern.

“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.”

The authors conclude by suggesting that corporate greed – or at least capitalism – is ultimately to blame for rampant piracy in developing nations. In treating the market in, say Brazil, exactly the same as the market in North America, companies create an environment in which piracy is a necessity.

Of course, the pricing for video games has always been a bit odd, and not every game feels like a $60 game, even in North America. It’s no surprise that people with less means aren’t willing to shell out for a new AAA title every couple of months. There’s no easy solution to piracy, but it’s nice to know that there are smart people trying to understand the nature of the problem.

Sources: Escapist, SSRC

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