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Posts Tagged ‘piracy’

Pirates of the Caribbean

Hollywood is abuzz with reports that the tiny islands of Antigua and Barbuda may begin operating their own national versions of the Pirate Bay, where individuals can cheaply, or even freely, download the latest films and TV shows. The clincher: this will all be legal.

How is that possible? Because the World Trade Organization says so. Let us explain.

When the U.S. helped create the WTO back in the early 1990s, it had a few main goals. One was to create a serious world trade court. The WTO has a lot of complex rules on trade, and the idea was to build a legal system that could neutrally adjudicate allegations of rule breaking. And it would work by allowing the winning country to retaliate against the loser by “suspending obligations.”

In other words, if the U.S. takes Japan to trade court and wins, Japan has to stop doing whatever bad thing it was doing. And if it doesn’t, the U.S. gets to retaliate–by, for example, increasing tariffs on Japanese goods up to the amount of harm Japan was causing.

The Authors of The Knockoff Economy Answer Your Questions

We want to thank everyone for their questions — it’s great to see people responding to, critiquing and, in some cases, tweaking, the ideas we set out in The Knockoff Economy. We are fascinated by the complex relationship between copying and creativity — and we’re thankful that many of you are as well.  So, to the Q&A . . .

Q. The issue that concerns my industry most is internet sales of prescription skin products such as retin-A and hydroquinone. Some might be counterfeit, but many are probably diverted products. The manufacturer sells them to a physician, the unscrupulous physician sells them on the internet at a deep discount, the patient may be hurt by expired or dangerous medications or may not use them correctly even if they are real. This hurts legitimate physicians by drawing business away from them, but also hurts a manufacturer’s reputation. (Apparently, people who have qualms about buying Viagra online don’t think twice before buying skin medications from those same sources.)

Do you plan to do any research in this area? Will you be looking at diversion in addition to counterfeits?

Piracy's Next Frontier

While pirate attacks worldwide are down so far this year, Foreign Policy reports that Africa’s blackbeards seem to have shifted their attention to West Africa and Indonesia, where attacks have increased. From a new report from the International Maritime Bureau:

The decline in Somali piracy, however, has been offset by an increase of attacks in the Gulf of Guinea, where 32 incidents, including five hijackings, were reported in 2012, versus 25 in 2011. In Nigeria alone there were 17 reports, compared to six in 2011. Togo reported five incidents including a hijacking, compared to no incidents during the same time last year.

The IMB report emphasized that high levels of violence were also being used against crew members in the Gulf of Guinea. Guns were reported in at least 20 of the 32 incidents. At least one crew member was killed and another later died as a result of an attack.

Copying Is Not Theft

Last week, the New York Times ran an interesting and important op-ed by Stuart Green, a law professor, who argues that although illegal downloading of songs or videos from the Internet may be wrong, it’s not really “theft” in the sense that the term has been understood historically in the law. Nor is it theft according to the moral intuitions of ordinary people (as Green’s own research with psychologist Matthew Kugler shows), who draw a sharp distinction between online file sharing and ordinary theft, even when the economic value of the property taken is the same. 

We Need More People in Government Like This

A blog reader sent a message to her congressman, Tim Walz, complaining about SOPA, the bill that aims to protect intellectual property rights online that has sent many internet folks into a tizzy.

Here is the response she got from Congressman Walz:

…SOPA approaches the problem as a criminal matter when in fact, study upon study shows that online piracy is best dealt with as an economic matter. Instead of using the Justice department as a sledgehammer amongst the delicate weeds of the internet, corporations must embrace the free market and adapt their business models to compete in a new reality. The ability to adapt and compete is the cornerstone of capitalism, we should promote this rather than rushing to insert ourselves in the market in ways that could severe disrupt internet commerce and progress.

Now, I don’t 100 percent agree with this answer, but I love the spirit of it – especially coming from a Democrat!  That last sentence sounds like the argument you would get over faculty lunch in the University of Chicago department of economics.

How Much Do Music and Movie Piracy Really Hurt the U.S. Economy?

Supporters of stronger intellectual property enforcement — such as those behind the proposed new Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) bills in Congress — argue that online piracy is a huge problem, one which costs the U.S. economy between $200 and $250 billion per year, and is responsible for the loss of 750,000 American jobs. 

These numbers seem truly dire: a $250 billion per year loss would be almost $800 for every man, woman, and child in America. And 750,000 jobs – that’s twice the number of those employed in the entire motion picture industry in 2010.

The good news is that the numbers are wrong.

Somali Pirates Practice Inventory Management

Somali pirates are apparently getting more sophisticated in their business practices: “A group of Somali pirates announced Sunday that they’re cutting their asking prices for hostages by 20 percent — to speed up the negotiation process, make room for more hostages and take in more cash,” reports Wired.

The Anti-Piracy Campaign in Images

The piracy problem off the Horn of Africa has received less media attention in recent months, but the pirates are still going strong, and international efforts to combat the threat have increased. FP’s new photoessay, “Pirate Hunting in the Gulf of Aden,” depicts the battle.

Freakonomics a Chart-Topper

On the list of illegally downloaded e-books, that is.
Here’s the Washington Post with the story, and here’s the N.Y. Times.
The underlying study claims that more than 9 millions copies of books were illegally downloaded last year.

Freakonomics meets Pirates of the Caribbean

That’s how the Las Vegas Weekly describes economist Pete Leeson’s book The Invisible Hook: The Hidden Economics of Pirates.
The Invisible Hook is an excellent book by one of the most creative young economists around, Pete Leeson, based off some of his academic papers, including this one that was published in Journal of Political Economy when I was the editor. I have to admit that as an editor I was skeptical when I received a manuscript on pirates from an obscure economist, but the combination of careful research and really interesting insights quickly won me over to Leeson’s work.

Can You Pirate Piracy?

We’ve been watching the wandering meaning of the word “piracy” over the last few weeks, as it stretches and shrinks to accommodate the modern world. The re-emergence of honest-to-goodness sea piracy shares headline space with the high-profile trial of Swedish internet pirates and the debate over just what to call “digital piracy.” The Wall Street Journal reports that another group . . .

Pirates Steal Ships, Not Songs

If you copy this post and pass it off as your own, that’s called plagiarism. If you illegally download a Freakonomics e-book for yourself, that’s downlifting (or, more traditionally, bootlegging). If you want to be a pirate, downloading a bootleg of Hook isn’t going to get you there — you’re going to have to actually go out onto the high . . .

How About "Downlifting" to Replace "Digital Piracy"?

We recently asked you to consider renaming “digital piracy” in light of recent actual piracy. The question appears to have some resonance, as it was picked up by The Guardian, The Washington Post, and others. For my money, the best suggestion by far comes from a reader named Derek: Downlifting. Download + shoplifting. Pretty accurate description that doesn’t imply violence. . . .

High-Seas Piracy and the Great Recession

Ryan Hagen, a prized Freakonomics research assistant, has previously worked as a research associate for N.Y.U.’s Center for Catastrophe Preparedness & Response. He has an interest in pirates that might reasonably be deemed obsessive. Photo: Cliff Somali pirates hijacked an American cargo ship on Wednesday, with the intention of holding the ship and its 20-man crew for ransom. Unfortunately for . . .

The Birth of Book Pirates?

| About 250 Kindle users are using Amazon’s tagging system to boycott e-books that cost over $10, claiming that an e-book is more “restricted in its use” than a paper book and should therefore cost less, reports Wired. One of the boycotters’ main complaints: you can’t lend out your e-books to friends. When digital music fans were confronted with this . . .

The State of Piracy

The subject of piracy — real pirates attacking ships on the high seas — has come up more than a few times on this blog, notably with the guest posts of economist/pirate scholar Peter Leeson. His book on the subject, The Invisible Hook, will be published next month. In the meantime, those of you looking for a pirate fix should . . .

Spreading the Pirate Booty Around

Somali pirate town Boosaaso. (Photo: Jehad Nga/The New York Times) Who’s making money from the piracy that’s flourishing off the coast of Somalia? The pirates themselves seem to be raking it in. As the Guardian reports, pirates have made about $30 million from ransom payments this year, according to U.N. estimates; and they are demanding $25 million for the return . . .

Are Pirates the Key to Understanding the World?

We can learn a lot about the evolution of democracy by studying pirates in history, says George Mason University economist Peter T. Leeson. As early as the 1670’s, pirates were experimenting with elected leadership, worker’s compensation and checks on executive power, the Boston Globe reports in this preview of Leeson’s forthcoming book The Invisible Hook: The Hidden Economics of Pirates. . . .

Scarier Halloween Costume: A Pirate, or Kim Jong-il?

Yesterday, a U.S. Navy destroyer helped the crew of a North Korean freighter recapture their vessel from a band of marauding pirates off the coast of Somalia. It’s an unusual news item, not because piracy is rare — around the world, pirate attacks have surged over the last decade — but because we’re more used to hearing about the dire . . .

The Economics of Piracy (the Real Kind, With Peglegs and Pieces of Eight)

I just received galleys of what looks like an interesting book: The Pirate’s Dilemma: How Youth Culture Reinvented Capitalism, by Matt Mason. I haven’t cracked it yet, but the Mason book reminded me of another recent book about piracy — the real, old-fashioned kind, with peglegs and pieces of eight — called Empire of Blue Water: Captain Morgan’s Great Pirate . . .