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Monday, November 15, 2004
Digital Piracy: Global Scourge or New Paradigm?

The U.S. Trade Representative has called digital piracy a "global scourge." Software piracy totaled $20 billion in 2003.

Meanwhile millions of songs a month are downloaded from peer-to-peer networks and first-run movies are routinely bootlegged within days (if not earlier) of release. Yet music companies use download statistics to adjust marketing plans in real-time and the most popular downloaded songs may actually lead to increased CD sales. Similarly, the use of pirated software can help build labor force skills in poor economies.

The war over intellectual property is complex. It's a battle between media conglomerates and computer-wielding teenagers, between billion-dollar technology companies and billion-dollar content companies, between artists and artists, nations and nations. This is not only an important technology story, but a cultural, economic, and entertainment story as well.

IDC's Chief Research Officer, John Gantz, explores this subject in a new book, Pirates of the Digital Millennium, co-authored with Jack B. Rochester. The book takes on the subject from every perspective: cultural, ethical, legal, business, law enforcement, and even geopolitical.

Starting with ground-breaking research from IDC on software piracy around the globe, as well as fresh research conducted by IDC on consumer attitudes about music and movie piracy, Gantz and Rochester cover the story from the streets of Bangkok to the halls of Congress, from secret duplicating factories in Paraguay to college dorm rooms.

"Our research revealed a number of factors that will dictate how industry responds to piracy," notes Gantz. "For one thing, it's a global phenomenon and must be approached as such. Similarly, there is no cultural imperative against piracy - no one is teaching kids that piracy is wrong. Content suppliers will have to adjust to these facts of life."

The book addresses a number of crucial questions regarding piracy, including :

-- Do strict copyright laws protect creativity - or stifle it?
-- Does digital piracy only hurt U.S. media conglomerates - or small-time artists and authors in local markets as well?
-- Is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act a much needed update to laws that lag technology - or a bludgeon in the hands of media companies that can't come to terms with the future?
-- Are all 70 million-plus music, movie, and software downloaders unethical thieves - or is there something wrong with the current system that needs to be fixed?
-- Will suing customers, lobbying lawmakers, and sending out notice-and-takedown letters be sufficient to staunch piracy - or are their other solutions?
-- Are you or your kids committing piracy - and if so, should you do something about it?

Chock full of references, sidebars, tables and graphs, fresh research, and unbiased but entertaining narrative, Pirates of the Digital Millennium is the book-of-record on the subject of digital piracy. A number of key industry executives and luminaries have endorsed the book, including Brad Smith, general counsel at Microsoft, Lester Thurow, world-renowned MIT economist, Paul Saffo, director of the Institute of the Future, Pat McGovern, chairman and founder of IDG, and authors Geoffrey Moore and Tracy Kidder.

The book is published by Financial Times Prentice Hall (ISBN 0-13-146315-2) and is available in both brick-and-mortar and online bookstores, as well as at a discount on For more information, please go to

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