If the music and movie industry won't lower the price of CDs and DVDs, there's only one thing to do: punters should stop buying them.
Just ask the Malaysian government. This week, Deputy Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk S Subramaniam told buyers to quit spending - temporarily, at least - to force the industry to reduce prices.
Subramaniam's statement, reported by the New Straits Times, apparently followed requests by Kuala Lumpur that "industry players" reduce "CD and VCD" prices - a demand rejected by the music and video business.
Ironically, the government made the request in order to help the industry: it offered the move as a solution to escalating music and movie piracy.
"There are some new local movie releases that are priced at MYR10 ($2.64). The VCDs are affordable and not bootlegged by illegal manufacturers," said Subramaniam. "Those priced at MYR30 ($7.91) and above are normally the ones that get pirated. This proves that the price factor is the main reason why consumers buy pirated CDs and VCDs."
It's a point oft-made by music and movie consumers, but this is the first time we've heard a national government come out and make this oh-so-obvious suggestion. Of course, music and movie companies won't accept it, no matter from where the advices comes. As Subramainiam himself noted this week, they'll continue to state that CD and DVD prices are justified by admin costs, R&D, production and artist royalties.
We don't doubt they're a factor, but given declining legit CD sales - though DVD sales are accelerating, it has to be said - some sort of price realignment is surely necessary. Particularly given the disparity between the price of the same product in different territories.
The Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations president Professor Datuk Mohd Hamdan Adnan took up said Subramainiam's theme. The paper reports that peddlers had a better marketing strategy compared with authorised dealers: they provided more information and their goods were easily available and cheaper.
"He said [this] based on his own experience," then New Straits Times reports, because "the bread vendor in his hometown also sold pirated VCDs because there was demand for them and the commission was good."
So there. ®