Criminal Enterprises and Your Chinatown DVD Collection - monday 2009-03-02 2253 last modified 2009-03-02 2253
Categories: Film, Current Events
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RAND just published a report on the correlation between global organized crime, including known terrorist groups, and the vertical industry of selling illegally copied films - generally speaking, on DVD. From those laughably blatant stores operating in the open in Greater Toronto suburban malls to your local Chinatown's shady blanket-based salesmen to the well-known population of disc dealers in piracy central Asia - apparently some notable fraction of the market is in the hands of organized groups that also engage in more violent criminal activities. As the study asserts, it's far, far cheaper to engage in selling illicit DVDs than it is just about any other industry we normally associate with violent crime, particularly narcotics and probably trash and sex too.

The study was commissioned by the Motion Picture Association and weighs in at almost two hundred pages. On cursory reading of the summary and the proposed ways forward, the viewpoints expressed are rather surprising. From an organization that considers the U.S. federal war on drugs a complete failure, to advocate an approach based on globally consolidating intellectual property protections and educating the public about avoiding illicit films merely toes the line on band aids on an irreversibly deteriorating market. People turn to illegal means for any number of reasons, not least of which is that the legal means are broken.

Given their figures are accurate and my scan wasn't inaccurate (I'll read through the thing some time this week), I'd advocate smacking the IP holders with a big enough stick to drop their prices to levels matching the black market. Much as the CD market's prices never dropped due to price fixing, it's still unheard of to purchase a new DVD at levels much lower than a couple years after their original introduction. Is somebody still playing at price controls? Surely it makes far more sense for the IP holders to rightfully control the revenue stream at lower margins instead of losing a substantial portion of it to organizations that have no problems with murder in their business model. They can only do that by conceding the pricing battle is losing them ground.

Meanwhile, this study suggests you're personally funding the terrorists if you buy illegal DVDs. So cut it out. I think we can now safely say BitTorrent both runs on and runs off pirates.

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