Monday, March 30, 2009

The ultimate in fuzzy math

Just read this article on the scurge of software pirates besetting the iPhone App Store.  Whenever I see these articles that talk about software piracy, or music piracy or any intellectual property piracy I can't help but laugh at the fuzzy math used in any such discussion.  According to the Business Software Alliance "the economic impact of software piracy is tens of billions of dollars." 

The problem with this bullshit is that it assumes that every single person with a pirated iPhone application would have purchased that application if not for the piracy, when in fact, most people with pirated applications get the pirated apps because they have no intention or capability to purchase the applications legitimately.  

The same is true the music world where the RIAA makes bold claims about the loss in revenue due to piracy when, once again, there's a lot of shit music out there that people only own because they got it for free and would never...EVER...EVER in a million years buy those crappy albums/songs.  And of course, movie piracy is no exception either.  

If anything, intellectual property piracy is one of the few examples I've ever pointed out that shows Adam Smith's invisible hand of the market doing its job correctly.  Clearly those products that are being pirated are worth much less to the people who get pirated versions, then the distributers of those products would like.  If they lowered the cost of their crappy products, maybe people would be willing to buy them.  But so long as people are willing to risk infecting their computers with viruses to avoid paying for content, the content must be priced too high.

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