Unsatisfied demand

Enrique Dans. Professor. IE Business School

22 October 2013

When the Vice President of the European Commission Responsible for the Digital Agenda talks about frustrated consumers and unacceptable conditions, it is clear that there is no piracy going on here, just demand that is not being met.

It is gratifying to hear the Vice President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes, defend something that anyone with the slightest bit of common sense has known for years. I am talking about the fact that “digital piracy” doesn’t exist, and that in reality we are simply talking about frustrated consumers, people who don’t have access to the content they are looking for, or can only get it under unacceptable conditions.

What is unacceptable is that the middle men intend to protect their profit margins come what may, when technological advances have rendered their role practically null and void. It is unacceptable that they intend to continue to earn the same when many of their costs have all but disappeared. And it is unacceptable that they are also prepared to sacrifice creators’ profit margins in order to keep theirs intact. But what is most unacceptable of all is that they boycott market alternatives and try to generate artificial shortages which, when all is said and done, is what makes for dodgy downloading activity.

The words of this particular Vice President of the European Commission, who is heading the digital and telecommunications agenda, is the ultimate proof. But if you also combine it with the recently published study carried out by London School of Economics, which proves that downloads are not devastating any industry, and that the complaints of cultural intermediaries are unfounded and unjustified, then what we have here is an outrage.

It is an outrage that for years an unscrupulous lobby has written tomes and worn out miles of carpet trying to convince ignorant or corrupt politicians of something we always knew was a pack of lies, and which has now been proved beyond all reasonable doubt.

Pirates? No, it was the intermediaries that caused the problem. And the problem was that demand was not being met.


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