Friday, March 10, 2006

Avast ye! I be needing your warez!

China is setting up a piracy court.
Because, apparently, the country has a, "burgeoning market for fake goods."
Yeah.  Right.
China might have an ENORMOUS market for fake goods.  It's probably the biggest in the world.  But I don't know that it would be possible to call it, "burgeoning."
1 a : to send forth new growth (as buds or branches) : SPROUT b : BLOOM
2 : to grow and expand rapidly : FLOURISH
I'm going to have to call, "no way" on this one.
China's "fake goods market" is already SO big.  SO huge. SO 'endemic' that the idea that it would grow or expand significantly is just something I can't fathom.  Why is this?  Because the last time I was there--last June--the only "legal" CD or DVD's I saw were simply pirated copies of the material, sold at U.S. prices in Chinese-government run stores.  The rest of the goods were for sale at market prices (between 35 and 75 cents per disc) by entrepreneuring sole-proprietors. 
NEXT. The idea that American businesses lose $3.8 Bln a year to piracy in China is absurd.  Based on nothing but my own conjecture, I'm guessing Microsoft ALONE loses more money than that every year to China.  Or at least, that's one way to look at it.  On the other hand, Microsoft does make some money in China.  And the fact that it's product is so widely available--for next to nothing--gives it some room to maneuver.  Specifically, it discourages any competitor from setting up in China, and developing a better product that Microsoft for use in the Chinese market.  Music companies/MPAA?  I'm not going there.
Finally.  The concept that a "piracy court" is going to do anything to stem the trade in pirate goods in China?   Sure.  Just like prohibition stopped people from drinking, and just like the "war on drugs/terror" has stopped either of those enterprises in this country.  Until individuals have legal property rights, and until companies start targeting their prices to the countries their goods are for sale in (i.e. not trying to charge Chinese folks two month's salary for MS Office), people will continue to buy the warez at market prices.  The Chinese judicial and law-enforcement systems are in no place to curtail the Chinese market.  It doesn't matter how much U.S. business complains about it.

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