Friday, April 2, 2010

What about per capita downloads?

Outlook has an interesting article where they say that India has the largest volume of illegal internet downloads in Asia and the fourth largest in the world. While that is probably true, it is unfair to just compare the volume of downloads and blame the country for not buying content legally.

What would be a more 'fair' statistic of comparison is the 'per capita downloads'! That is the volume of downloads per person. India has a huge population. Anything you talk about is bound to be huge. What makes more sense is to talk about the average download volume per person.

You might argue that that is also unfair because a large percentage of the Indian population does not even have access to computers and the internet. How then can you include them while calculating the average. Agreed. How about using the number of people with internet connections? Makes more sense?

One important thing to remember while discussing these statistics is that the cost of online content is very unfair in India. Especially that of software. Most companies simply multiply the cost in dollars by the exchange rate, add taxes and sell at that price. This is only going to increase piracy. What should be done is to apply the Principle of Equivalents. What can you get in a dollar in the US? Take those things and calculate how much it costs to buy the same things in India. It will be much less than Rupees Forty five.

Then again, the downloads are often for music and movies. In the US, you can buy a song from iTunes for 99 cents which is not a whole lot. To encourage legal purchases online, the cost has to be made more justifiable and content has to be easily available. Only then can any such comparison be considered fair.

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