The Virtues Of Piracy

October 9, 2012 in Daily Bulletin, Signature

Christopher Beam believes that the next great innovator from China will be a pirate who shamelessly copies the products of other companies. This, Beam argues, is not a bad thing:

  • While China’s pirates might steal innovations, they also include their old innovations in the products they copy. Chinese knockoffs of the iPhone come with dual SIM-card capabilities and replaceable batteries.
  • This doesn’t always hurt the profits of the original innovator. In China you can buy shoes branded with the Apple logo. This doesn’t hurt Apple’s sales as the company doesn’t sell any Apple branded shoes, and, in fact, it enhances Chinese sales by providing free marketing.
  • China officially only allows 34 western films to be screened in the country every year. Pirates plug the hole by selling boot-leg copies of western films, contributing to the freedom of speech.
  • America itself was built upon pirating European inventions. The term “yankee” comes from the Dutch term for “pirate”. It was only when other countries began to copy American innovations that America became a proponent of intellectual property protection.
  • Piracy also forces companies to be more competitive. They feel the pressure to release new features to differentiate themselves from the cheap copies of their products. Valve was forced to offer upgrades to players of Team Fortress 2 in a bid to convince people to buy the original.

You can read more about Chinese cities that specialize in pirating specific products, and how in some ways Chinese copies have exceeded the quality of the original American innovations over here.

Source: Slate