By Amanda Fletcher, JMI Intern and Auburn University Graduate in Economics
Many companies have tried to do everything possible in efforts to protect their intellectual property from the ever-growing pirate markets. However, more times than not, the benefits do not outweigh the costs.In our technologically advanced day and age, it is easier than ever before to download a song, book or movie online for free. Rather than traveling to the bookstore and paying $16 for a book, or paying a fee to download a copy from the retailer, piracy has opened many doors to obtaining the desired product at zero cost.People can continue to sue, and legislators can try to make stricter internet anti-piracy regulations–such as forcing sites like YouTube to regulate what is posted on their websites for copyright infringement–but in the end, unethical consumers will always find a way.  As long as there is a demand for a good or service, and as long as there is a person willing and able to provide this good or service, that industry will thrive. Unfortunately, piracy artificially lowers demand by reducing the effective price to zero, creating a huge financial issue for those people/industries that derive their income from the sale of such content.The online booking industry encountered a growing problem when, in an attempt to protect its intellectual property, it forbid website consumers to browse through the merchandise before purchasing. Imagine walking into Barnes and Noble and having to buy a book without first being able to sit down and browse through the information at hand. Would you buy it? For many the answer is no.In today’s digital society, the internet is our “Barnes and Noble” and our access is through our smart phones and computers. If we cannot browse through the information provided online, the chances of purchasing it is very low. Therefore, places like The Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama, have found that after allowing people to browse their merchandise first, sales increased at a dramatic rate.The only solution is to accept that once intellectual information is out there, it is there to stay. The government can try its hardest to prevent copyright infringement, but in the end, it will fail. Free forms of intellectual private property can be found almost anywhere at any time and trying to prevent this would simply be a lost cause. Our digital generation will eventually have to either significantly loosen, or lose, copyright laws, because it is easier now than ever to copy intellectual property, and it will never get any harder.Author Cory Doctorow says, “As a practical matter, we live in the 21st century and anything anybody wants to copy they will be able to copy. The question is: what are you going to do about that? Are you going call them thieves or are you going to find a way to make money from them?” (