Media Piracy in Emerging Economies is a remarkable new study on so called “piracy” of media goods in the emerging economies of Brazil, India, Russia and South Africa.
The report is available under a Consumer’s Dilemma license; its free for those outside of high income countries. Developing world readers of this blog will be able to download it free.
The chapter on South Africa is particularly important, since it presents the first independent, in depth investigation into the nature, scale and response to alleged copyright “piracy” in South Africa.
The report points out that lack of access to the channels for media goods; Internet access, cinemas, satellite tv, music and book shops has its origins in the ways in which apartheid structured the economy. In contemporary South Africa lack of access reveals the uneven nature of globalisation: “millions of South Africans have been integrated into a globalized media culture without a
corresponding expansion of access.”
One interesting finding is that while South African musicians condemn infringement of music copyright many musicians use unlicensed production software.
Apparently in response to public sector (police, SARS and prosecution0 enforcement practises trade in infringing goods appears to have become largely deformalised taking place primarily through neighborhood networks. Despite this the authors were not able to conclude whether the level of infringment has decreased or simply re-located.
The reports sketches the silhouette of copyright infringement of media goods in South Africa. Filling in the details will require more research, especially broad, rigorous, quantitative research. Important as such research is rightsholders, government and consumers will agree with the report that “the central question should be how to create vibrant,accessible media markets and how, in particular, to move South Africa out of the high-price,small-market equilibrium it shares with many other developing countries.”
Full disclose: I was afforded an opportunity to comment on the chapter on South Africa.