Wiley sues student for infringing copyright on resold book

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Wiley sues student for infringing copyright on resold book

Postby Arariel » Sun Oct 28, 2012 10:29 pm UTC

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/ ... story.html

Kirtsaeng got friends and family to buy English-language textbooks produced for sale in Asia and ship them to the United States, where Kirtsaeng sold them on eBay and elsewhere.
[...]
[Wiley] sued Kirtsaeng for violating its copyright on eight books it produced exclusively for sale overseas.


If you legally purchase a copyrighted or (potentially) patent-protected good in a foreign country and resell it in the United States, you will now break copyright or patent law.

An interesting note is Wiley's argument:

Wiley argues that businesses must be able to set different prices for their products in different markets and that Congress understood that in writing the copyright laws.


Where they say that businesses must be able to do price discrimination. Of course, part of this has already been established with the DMCA and area restrictions, and they might as well continue down this path.

Ah well. I suppose I'll pirate Wiley books from now on.

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Re: Wiley sues student for infringing copyright on resold bo

Postby aoeu » Mon Oct 29, 2012 1:58 am UTC

It is silly that importing books would be covered under the "copy"right law.

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Re: Wiley sues student for infringing copyright on resold bo

Postby Arariel » Mon Oct 29, 2012 2:00 am UTC

Is it really, when you consider breaking DRM constitutes breaking 'copy'right law?

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Re: Wiley sues student for infringing copyright on resold bo

Postby Diemo » Mon Oct 29, 2012 2:12 am UTC

I'd just like to point out that this law is not new. Most of my textbooks have always had "Not for resale in the United States" on them, and that is since 2006 (when I satarted, out what a glorious time)
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Re: Wiley sues student for infringing copyright on resold bo

Postby Arariel » Mon Oct 29, 2012 2:15 am UTC

True, although I don't believe it's been enforced against a private individual before now.

And more specifically, the law says something about books sold without authorisation of the publisher; these books were sold with the authorisation of the publisher.

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Re: Wiley sues student for infringing copyright on resold bo

Postby BattleMoose » Mon Oct 29, 2012 2:29 am UTC

This isn't some guy who was just reselling an old textbook of his.

He was intentionally taking advantage of the price difference of the product based on region to generate a profit.

The question that is begged is:
Should companies be able to charge different prices for the same product?

And if the answer is yes, how should companies be protected from other individuals or companies from buying their products in a low cost region and reselling them in the high cost region?

Pro-tip:
Companies being able to charge different prices on products can have a high societal benefit. Charging lower prices for poorer regions on goods which have a high societal impact, educational materials and medicines as some examples.

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Re: Wiley sues student for infringing copyright on resold bo

Postby Arariel » Mon Oct 29, 2012 2:43 am UTC

BattleMoose wrote:This isn't some guy who was just reselling an old textbook of his.

He was intentionally taking advantage of the price difference of the product based on region to generate a profit.


And so what? They sold it, he bought it, he owned it, he should be free to do as he pleases with his property.


The question that is begged is:
Should companies be able to charge different prices for the same product?


I do not think that phrase means what you think it means

And if the answer is yes, how should companies be protected from other individuals or companies from buying their products in a low cost region and reselling them in the high cost region?


Because it is clearly the government's duty to protect poor little corporations from the greedy commoners. I'm sure our Founding Fathers would approve of such government-supported price-gouging, right? Probably would have dealt with this student like one of those exploitative individuals who smuggle tea.

Pro-tip:
Companies being able to charge different prices on products can have a high societal benefit. Charging lower prices for poorer regions on goods which have a high societal impact, educational materials and medicines as some examples.


Pro-tip:
Companies being able to charge different prices on products indicates a lack of competition. This is generally regarded as a bad thing. A competitive market would have equilibrium price at or below the price in third-world countries. Price discrimination is used by monopolistic or oligopolistic companies in order to increase producer surplus at the expense of consumer surplus. This will lower the deadweight loss normally associated with monopolistic markets, but will still entail more loss to social welfare than a competitive market.

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Re: Wiley sues student for infringing copyright on resold bo

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Oct 29, 2012 2:55 am UTC

BattleMoose wrote:Companies being able to charge different prices on products can have a high societal benefit. Charging lower prices for poorer regions on goods which have a high societal impact, educational materials and medicines as some examples.
How is this benefit not served by allowing me to buy your goods and resell them in regions where you're overcharging? If you hike the prices up in a poor region, I can buy your stuff in a rich region and resell it in a poor region for a profit.

I suppose if you lower your price in the poor region, I can buy it there and sell it in the rich region for a profit--which might lead you to hiking the prices up in the poor region to strangle me out. Does this actually happen, though? I'd expect it to be mitigated by a number of factors (one of which being people in rich regions are much less likely to buy second-hand goods).

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Re: Wiley sues student for infringing copyright on resold bo

Postby BattleMoose » Mon Oct 29, 2012 3:09 am UTC

Pro-tip:
Companies being able to charge different prices on products indicates a lack of competition. This is generally regarded as a bad thing. A competitive market would have equilibrium price at or below the price in third-world countries. Price discrimination is used by monopolistic or oligopolistic companies in order to increase producer surplus at the expense of consumer surplus. This will lower the deadweight loss normally associated with monopolistic markets, but will still entail more loss to social welfare than a competitive market.


You are missing the point I am making by about a 10 miles, rough estimation.

Firstly, we are talking about copyrighted materials, for which there is very limited competition. Particularly if a course you are partaking in has a specific prescribed textbook, in such an instance, there is, no competition.

The action of the individual involved, is essentially towards equilibrating the price of the textbooks in the respective countries. Acting by himself, I doubt he could have much impact but if done en masse, essentially the price of the text books will be the same across both countries. If this were to continue, the publisher would take actions to maximize its profit, either stop selling to the "cheaper country" completely, or sell it to the "cheaper country" at first world prices. Both are negative outcomes for pretty much everyone, except the leeches trying to take advantage of an artificial and beneficial price gradient.

Too long, did not understand.
Two options exist.
Prices in first world country are X and price in third would countries are Y, where Y is less than X.
Protections need to exist where such an artificial price gradient can be protected.

OR
Prices everywhere are X, and poor people get boned because they cannot afford X.

I prefer to live in a world where disadvantaged people have cheaper access to educational materials.

EDIT:
TGH:
I would support a mechanism which both encourages the production of new copyrighted materials and makes Y as low as possible.
Being able to charge different amounts for the same goods in different regions can produce this outcome, if certain protections are included, otherwise Y = X and this is not an outcome that I think would be good.
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Re: Wiley sues student for infringing copyright on resold bo

Postby Bubbles McCoy » Mon Oct 29, 2012 3:12 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:How is this benefit not served by allowing me to buy your goods and resell them in regions where you're overcharging? If you hike the prices up in a poor region, I can buy your stuff in a rich region and resell it in a poor region for a profit.

I suppose if you lower your price in the poor region, I can buy it there and sell it in the rich region for a profit--which might lead you to hiking the prices up in the poor region to strangle me out. Does this actually happen, though? I'd expect it to be mitigated by a number of factors (one of which being people in rich regions are much less likely to buy second-hand goods).

If this wasn't currently illegal, what would prevent american bookstores from directly buying and stocking their shelves with overseas copies? As-is you're probably right since international versions can't go through normal book selling channels, but I'd guess you'd see a fair bit of arbitrage is the law pulled out of this area.

Arariel wrote:Companies being able to charge different prices on products indicates a lack of competition.

Huh?

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Re: Wiley sues student for infringing copyright on resold bo

Postby Arariel » Mon Oct 29, 2012 3:23 am UTC

BattleMoose wrote:You are missing the point I am making by about a 10 miles, rough estimation.

Firstly, we are talking about copyrighted materials, for which there is very limited competition. Particularly if a course you are partaking in has a specific prescribed textbook, in such an instance, there is, no competition.


Yes. That's a problem.

The action of the individual involved, is essentially towards equilibrating the price of the textbooks in the respective countries. Acting by himself, I doubt he could have much impact but if done en masse, essentially the price of the text books will be the same across both countries. If this were to continue, the publisher would take actions to maximize its profit, either stop selling to the "cheaper country" completely, or sell it to the "cheaper country" at first world prices. Both are negative outcomes for pretty much everyone, except the leeches trying to take advantage of an artificial and beneficial price gradient.


Absolute nonsense. Americans would benefit. Wiley would have to raise prices in third-world countries and lower them in the U.S. in order to maximise profit in the global market at a single price. A single global price would be in between the current U.S. price and the price in third-world countries. And the people you call 'leaches' (Really? That's a lovely word to use) would benefit how? You don't know anything about economics, you can admit that right now.

Too long, did not understand.
Two options exist.
Prices in first world country are X and price in third would countries are Y, where Y is less than X.
Protections need to exist where such an artificial price gradient can be protected.

OR
Prices everywhere are X, and poor people get boned because they cannot afford X.

I prefer to live in a world where disadvantaged people have cheaper access to educational materials.


And I prefer to live in a world where governments cannot tell people what they can or cannot do when their actions cause neither physical harm to others nor affect their ability to use their property.

Bubbles McCoy wrote:
Arariel wrote:Companies being able to charge different prices on products indicates a lack of competition.

Huh?

Price discrimination can only occur in non-competitive markets. Else competitors would sell at lower prices (still making profit) to undercut their competitors until a constant equilibrium price is achieved.

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Re: Wiley sues student for infringing copyright on resold bo

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Oct 29, 2012 3:36 am UTC

Bubbles McCoy wrote:If this wasn't currently illegal, what would prevent american bookstores from directly buying and stocking their shelves with overseas copies? As-is you're probably right since international versions can't go through normal book selling channels, but I'd guess you'd see a fair bit of arbitrage is the law pulled out of this area.
Well, okay--but is that so terrible? I'm not an economist--I don't quite understand how arbitrage represents a failure in this scenario. Is the reason this law exists to give businesses room to offer discounts to poorer countries? I get the feeling that's not the case, but I'm willing to be corrected.
BattleMoose wrote:The action of the individual involved, is essentially towards equilibrating the price of the textbooks in the respective countries. Acting by himself, I doubt he could have much impact but if done en masse, essentially the price of the text books will be the same across both countries. If this were to continue, the publisher would take actions to maximize its profit, either stop selling to the "cheaper country" completely, or sell it to the "cheaper country" at first world prices. Both are negative outcomes for pretty much everyone, except the leeches trying to take advantage of an artificial and beneficial price gradient.
Isn't it possible that instead of increasing prices in the poorer region, a company might reduce the prices in the richer region to directly compete with the fellow who's engaging in arbitrage? I realize that's not the way it might go--but it's also another possibility, right? And depending on the nature of the arbitrage, it might turn out to be the most profitable course of action--yes?

I'm also confused as to how this is a violation of copyright law. I suppose because there's no governing body for 'buying things in country X and selling things in country Y' where said thing is not illegal to sell or buy in either country?
BattleMoose wrote:TGH:
I would support a mechanism which both encourages the production of new copyrighted materials and makes Y as low as possible.
Being able to charge different amounts for the same goods in different regions can produce this outcome, if certain protections are included, otherwise Y = X and this is not an outcome that I think would be good.
I guess I'm just confused as to why we should expect Y to always increase to X. When arbitrage leads to a sufficient loss in profits to bring Y to X, I'd expect these two values to start approaching each other--but I don't find it intuitively obvious that arbitrage will lead to a sufficient loss in profits, or that the direction of that loss will increase Y in all cases (rather than decreasing X in some cases).
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Re: Wiley sues student for infringing copyright on resold bo

Postby yoni45 » Mon Oct 29, 2012 3:37 am UTC

Arariel wrote:Price discrimination can only occur in non-competitive markets. Else competitors would sell at lower prices (still making profit) to undercut their competitors until a constant equilibrium price is achieved.


Except you do realize this equilibrium price would be higher than the poor country price in many cases, such as those where companies (pharmaceuticals) have enormous R&D costs, but relatively low production costs? So, in the end, you'd still be screwing the poor country's access to medicine?
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Re: Wiley sues student for infringing copyright on resold bo

Postby yurell » Mon Oct 29, 2012 3:39 am UTC

BattleMoose wrote:Prices everywhere are X, and poor people get boned because they cannot afford X.


Why should prices everywhere be X, when the company is clearly making a profit from Y?
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Re: Wiley sues student for infringing copyright on resold bo

Postby Arariel » Mon Oct 29, 2012 3:42 am UTC

yoni45 wrote:
Arariel wrote:Price discrimination can only occur in non-competitive markets. Else competitors would sell at lower prices (still making profit) to undercut their competitors until a constant equilibrium price is achieved.


Except you do realize this equilibrium price would be higher than the poor country price in many cases, such as those where companies (pharmaceuticals) have enormous R&D costs, but relatively low production costs? So, in the end, you'd still be screwing the poor country's access to medicine?


I'm sorry, we are discussing textbooks here, right? In any event, for medicine, poorer countries can simply not recognise the patents of those companies, as India has done.

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Re: Wiley sues student for infringing copyright on resold bo

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Oct 29, 2012 3:42 am UTC

yurell wrote:
BattleMoose wrote:Prices everywhere are X, and poor people get boned because they cannot afford X.


Why should prices everywhere be X, when the company is clearly making a profit from Y?
I'm guessing it's because if you start going to the poorer region and buying the company's product at a reduced cost, you drive demand up--and the company's response to increasing demand will be to raise the price. But you only have an incentive to buy lots of the product so long as it's at a reduced cost--so once the price goes up to X, you stop buying, run off, and leave the poor people in the poor region with the increased cost that reflected a 'temporary spike' in demand.

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Re: Wiley sues student for infringing copyright on resold bo

Postby yurell » Mon Oct 29, 2012 3:45 am UTC

I don't like seeing that as an inevitable consequence, though; the company chooses to mark up the price, when it can readily cover all costs and make a profit with the lower price. If the company raises the price, it's they who are perpetrating the moral wrong, not the person attempting to provide less obscenely-priced text books.
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Re: Wiley sues student for infringing copyright on resold bo

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Oct 29, 2012 3:49 am UTC

yurell wrote:I don't like seeing that as an inevitable consequence, though; the company chooses to mark up the price, when it can readily cover all costs and make a profit with the lower price. If the company raises the price, it's they who are perpetrating the moral wrong, not the person attempting to provide less obscenely-priced text books.
I don't think it's a matter of ethics or morality; it's just simple principles of economics. If more people are buying my product, I hike the price up. If the loss of purchases as a result of the price hike doesn't negate the increase in profits from higher prices, I've yet to find equilibrium between supply and demand.

If I notice that the increased demand is because someone's buying my product and selling it elsewhere--and the loss of revenue from that competition is hitting my profits--it might make sense to hike the price up to a point where you can't buy low and sell high. Or it might make sense to reduce my price elsewhere so when you try to buy low and sell high, you get undercut by my prices. Or it might make sense to do a little of both.

Morality doesn't seem to really factor into it.

EDIT: Unless you think businesses are morally obligated to only charge the minimum amount necessary to still make a profit. But I suspect you don't think that!

EDIT-EDIT: In reading more about this article, I have to say, it really does seem a bit senseless to protect the copyright of products after you have purchased them--even if you didn't purchase them in the country you're using them in.
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Re: Wiley sues student for infringing copyright on resold bo

Postby Arariel » Mon Oct 29, 2012 3:56 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
yurell wrote:I don't like seeing that as an inevitable consequence, though; the company chooses to mark up the price, when it can readily cover all costs and make a profit with the lower price. If the company raises the price, it's they who are perpetrating the moral wrong, not the person attempting to provide less obscenely-priced text books.
I don't think it's a matter of ethics or morality; it's just simple principles of economics. If more people are buying my product, I hike the price up. If the loss of purchases as a result of the price hike doesn't negate the increase in profits from higher prices, I've yet to find equilibrium between supply and demand.

If I notice that the increased demand is because someone's buying my product and selling it elsewhere--and the loss of revenue from that competition is hitting my profits--it might make sense to hike the price up to a point where you can't buy low and sell high. Or it might make sense to reduce my price elsewhere so when you try to buy low and sell high, you get undercut by my prices. Or it might make sense to do a little of both.

Morality doesn't seem to really factor into it.


Of course, what actually occurs is not an equilibrium between supply and demand, but one between marginal cost (equivalent to supply) and marginal revenue (in a non-competitive market, steeper than the demand curve). Without barriers to entry, there will be people willing to supply more of a product at a lower price; thus, it's not truly an equilibrium between supply and demand (in a strict sense).

As seen below:

Image

The real issue is the government's protection of that monopoly.

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Re: Wiley sues student for infringing copyright on resold bo

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Oct 29, 2012 3:58 am UTC

Arariel wrote:Of course, what actually occurs is not an equilibrium between supply and demand, but one between marginal cost (equivalent to supply) and marginal revenue (in a non-competitive market, steeper than the demand curve). Without barriers to entry, there will be people willing to supply more of a product at a lower price; thus, it's not truly an equilibrium between supply and demand (in a strict sense).
Whoa, waitasecond--we're talking about textbooks, right? Who's going to supply the product at a lower price? This is literally a captive market we're talking about here. Or am I missing something?

Arbitrage is pretty much the only way to compete with a textbook company.
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Re: Wiley sues student for infringing copyright on resold bo

Postby Bubbles McCoy » Mon Oct 29, 2012 3:59 am UTC

Arariel wrote:Price discrimination can only occur in non-competitive markets. Else competitors would sell at lower prices (still making profit) to undercut their competitors until a constant equilibrium price is achieved.

I don't know if "non-competitive" is quite the word I'd use here. Economic study does like to pretend everything is a commodity a good deal of the time, but very few products actually are. Virtually everything you buy is to some extent distinct (the only true commodities I can remember buying in the past month are gas, milk and bananas), but that doesn't mean there's no competition - it comes from competition from substitute goods rather than identical goods. I suppose textbook markets are somewhat removed from price competition though, as the one making the purchasing decisions (professors) don't bear much of the costs.

The Great Hippo wrote:Well, okay--but is that so terrible? I'm not an economist--I don't quite understand how arbitrage represents a failure in this scenario. Is the reason this law exists to give businesses room to offer discounts to poorer countries? I get the feeling that's not the case, but I'm willing to be corrected.

In this case, I tend to assume that if the book company had to choose between soaking americans or making it cheap for everyone, it's going to go stick with the former. I'm ambivalent on the overall issue since I'm not really sure if restricting my rights to resell goods I have is really worth it, but it seems pretty likely that this results in cheaper books for people in poorer countries. I could be wrong, but it seems like an american copy sells for around two to three times as an international edition; you'd have to be moving quite a few of them for it to be worth significantly lowering american prices. Then again, the publisher probably could just create gimped versions of the book for poorer countries, which all said and done wouldn't be a terrible compromise.

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Re: Wiley sues student for infringing copyright on resold bo

Postby Green9090 » Mon Oct 29, 2012 4:04 am UTC

The deeper issue is that textbook companies all have this strange artificial monopoly in that a teacher will require their book, and the student has to acquire it at any reasonable cost. This allows the textbook companies to define reasonable cost differently for each region depending on what obscene amount will still be possible for those students to pay. The teachers don't give a shit because they don't have to pay, and the students don't have the option of taking their business elsewhere, so textbook prices spiral out of control in a way that is unrelated to their relative usefulness or their scarcity.

That said, if someone wants to call textbook companies (or any other companies) on their bullshit by buying from a poorer region, that's their business. Copyright has nothing to do with being forced to pay inflated prices. This is also one of the rare cases where I believe the government should interfere in the market to force textbook prices down, because allowing shitty textbook companies to strangle the education system for profit is one of the more abjectly horrible things one can use the free market for.
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Re: Wiley sues student for infringing copyright on resold bo

Postby aoeu » Mon Oct 29, 2012 4:06 am UTC

Arariel wrote:Wiley would have to raise prices in third-world countries and lower them in the U.S. in order to maximise profit in the global market at a single price.

Actually they would translate their books to third-world languages (with the translations having different price tags) instead of selling an English edition everywhere.

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Re: Wiley sues student for infringing copyright on resold bo

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Oct 29, 2012 4:07 am UTC

Bubbles McCoy wrote:In this case, I tend to assume that if the book company had to choose between soaking americans or making it cheap for everyone, it's going to go stick with the former. I'm ambivalent on the overall issue since I'm not really sure if restricting my rights to resell goods I have is really worth it, but it seems pretty likely that this results in cheaper books for people in poorer countries. I could be wrong, but it seems like an american copy sells for around two to three times as an international edition; you'd have to be moving quite a few of them for it to be worth significantly lowering american prices. Then again, the publisher probably could just create gimped versions of the book for poorer countries, which all said and done wouldn't be a terrible compromise.
Mostly, I'm deeply troubled by the implications carried concerning the right of possession for something I've legally purchased--I instinctively dislike the idea that something I bought isn't necessarily mine, and the idea that you can tell me under what context I'm allowed to resell it is one I find intuitively repellent.

That being said, textbooks aren't a big deal for me. If this genuinely protects the interests of poor countries and keeps the cost of textbooks down for them, I feel similarly ambivalent. I'm mostly concerned about the implications elsewhere, and also curious if removing it really would drive foreign textbook costs up.

At the very least, we can all agree that the costs for textbooks in America are fucking ridiculous. I'd actually be for a solution that directly dismantled the monopoly textbook companies seem to have on college students' wallets, because that's just a load of bullshit.
Green9090 wrote:That said, if someone wants to call textbook companies (or any other companies) on their bullshit by buying from a poorer region, that's their business. Copyright has nothing to do with being forced to pay inflated prices. This is also one of the rare cases where I believe the government should interfere in the market to force textbook prices down, because allowing shitty textbook companies to strangle the education system for profit is one of the more abjectly horrible things one can use the free market for.
Yeah, if we're going to fuck with the free market, let's fuck with it here.

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Re: Wiley sues student for infringing copyright on resold bo

Postby Arariel » Mon Oct 29, 2012 4:11 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
Arariel wrote:Of course, what actually occurs is not an equilibrium between supply and demand, but one between marginal cost (equivalent to supply) and marginal revenue (in a non-competitive market, steeper than the demand curve). Without barriers to entry, there will be people willing to supply more of a product at a lower price; thus, it's not truly an equilibrium between supply and demand (in a strict sense).
Whoa, waitasecond--we're talking about textbooks, right? Who's going to supply the product at a lower price? This is literally a captive market we're talking about here. Or am I missing something?

Arbitrage is pretty much the only way to compete with a textbook company.


Read: 'Without barriers to entry'. Of course, this case is an excellent example of entrepreneurs willing to supply a good below the monopolistic price, bringing market supply and demand closer to equilibrium. But the important words are 'Without barriers to entry'.

Bubbles McCoy wrote:
Arariel wrote:Price discrimination can only occur in non-competitive markets. Else competitors would sell at lower prices (still making profit) to undercut their competitors until a constant equilibrium price is achieved.

I don't know if "non-competitive" is quite the word I'd use here. Economic study does like to pretend everything is a commodity a good deal of the time, but very few products actually are. Virtually everything you buy is to some extent distinct (the only true commodities I can remember buying in the past month are gas, milk and bananas), but that doesn't mean there's no competition - it comes from competition from substitute goods rather than identical goods. I suppose textbook markets are somewhat removed from price competition though, as the one making the purchasing decisions (professors) don't bear much of the costs.


It is not a competitive market; therefore, it is non-competitive. What other word is there to use?

Green9090 wrote:The deeper issue is that textbook companies all have this strange artificial monopoly in that a teacher will require their book, and the student has to acquire it at any reasonable cost. This allows the textbook companies to define reasonable cost differently for each region depending on what obscene amount will still be possible for those students to pay. The teachers don't give a shit because they don't have to pay, and the students don't have the option of taking their business elsewhere, so textbook prices spiral out of control in a way that is unrelated to their relative usefulness or their scarcity.

That said, if someone wants to call textbook companies (or any other companies) on their bullshit by buying from a poorer region, that's their business. Copyright has nothing to do with being forced to pay inflated prices. This is also one of the rare cases where I believe the government should interfere in the market to force textbook prices down, because allowing shitty textbook companies to strangle the education system for profit is one of the more abjectly horrible things one can use the free market for.


Actually, this is in instance where government interference causes the problem in the first place. Government protects the monopoly; therefore, there is one.

aoeu wrote:
Arariel wrote:Wiley would have to raise prices in third-world countries and lower them in the U.S. in order to maximise profit in the global market at a single price.

Actually they would translate their books to third-world languages (with the translations having different price tags) instead of selling an English edition everywhere.


Unlikely; translations are not cheap. There's a reason why Wiley has been selling them in English rather than foreign languages instead of selling them in foreign languages all along. Conceivable for Spanish; not for Thai, or the numerous languages of Africa. Some former British colonies in the third world have English as an official/common language, too.

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Re: Wiley sues student for infringing copyright on resold bo

Postby Qaanol » Mon Oct 29, 2012 4:15 am UTC

If we made copyright durations equal to patent durations, namely 20 years, then the bulk of the problem would simply disappear. Authors would have 20 years of exclusive rights to monetize their works, just like inventors do. And after that, the books would enter the public domain and be available for the public benefit.

People could use 20-year-old textbooks, or rather, royalty-free reprints of 20-year-old textbooks, sold at competitive market price (which is likely to be “free in PDF form”). In almost all fields of study the information would easily be up-to-date enough for undergraduate class (and probably a lot of graduate classes too…)
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Re: Wiley sues student for infringing copyright on resold bo

Postby Green9090 » Mon Oct 29, 2012 4:15 am UTC

Arariel wrote:Actually, this is in instance where government interference causes the problem in the first place. Government protects the monopoly; therefore, there is one.

...No it isn't? It's caused by the person choosing the product being separate from the person paying for the product in literally every case, which means the product's cost can be as high as the purchaser can afford rather than as much as the product is worth. Government has nothing to do with the dynamic, unless you're talking about the fringe case with the foreign book imports, which isn't related to the reason for the books costing so much in the US in the first place.
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Re: Wiley sues student for infringing copyright on resold bo

Postby Arariel » Mon Oct 29, 2012 4:16 am UTC

Qaanol wrote:If we made copyright durations equal to patent durations, namely 20 years, then the bulk of the problem would simply disappear. Authors would have 20 years of exclusive rights to monetize their works, just like inventors do. And after that, the books would enter the public domain and be available for the public benefit.

People could use 20-year-old textbooks, or rather, royalty-free reprints of 20-year-old textbooks, sold at competitive market price (which is likely to be “free in PDF form”). In almost all fields of study the information would easily be up-to-date enough for undergraduate class (and probably a lot of graduate classes too…)

Unlikely; how many basic calculus textbooks are older than twenty years?

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Re: Wiley sues student for infringing copyright on resold bo

Postby Green9090 » Mon Oct 29, 2012 4:17 am UTC

Qaanol wrote:If we made copyright durations equal to patent durations, namely 20 years, then the bulk of the problem would simply disappear. Authors would have 20 years of exclusive rights to monetize their works, just like inventors do. And after that, the books would enter the public domain and be available for the public benefit.

People could use 20-year-old textbooks, or rather, royalty-free reprints of 20-year-old textbooks, sold at competitive market price (which is likely to be “free in PDF form”). In almost all fields of study the information would easily be up-to-date enough for undergraduate class (and probably a lot of graduate classes too…)

Good luck getting the schools to go along with that. It's already super cheap to get 20 year old textbooks, changing copyright law wouldn't change anything. Schools just don't give a shit if the book companies are screwing their students, because they don't have to foot the bill.
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Re: Wiley sues student for infringing copyright on resold bo

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Oct 29, 2012 4:19 am UTC

Arariel wrote:Read: 'Without barriers to entry'. Of course, this case is an excellent example of entrepreneurs willing to supply a good below the monopolistic price, bringing market supply and demand closer to equilibrium. But the important words are 'Without barriers to entry'.
The barrier to entry is the college itself--specifically, the entities within that college who define the various course requirements and textbooks you need to meet them. This is not a legally enforced barrier to entry; it's a barrier the marketplace itself has created. Or am I missing something about how textbook requirements for college courses are set?
Arariel wrote:Actually, this is in instance where government interference causes the problem in the first place. Government protects the monopoly; therefore, there is one.
I'm confused: How is the government making the colleges do this?

If you mean the government is enforcing the country-by-country pricing scheme, okay--but that's not how this monopoly got into place. This monopoly got into place because of colleges and textbook companies; the government is only enforcing this monopoly in one very narrow circumstance. If you removed government enforcement, the monopoly would still be there, and the textbook company would respond by adjusting prices appropriately (to maintain its monopoly).

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Re: Wiley sues student for infringing copyright on resold bo

Postby Arariel » Mon Oct 29, 2012 4:20 am UTC

Copyright is a barrier to entry. It is a legal monopoly created and enforced by the government.

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Re: Wiley sues student for infringing copyright on resold bo

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Oct 29, 2012 4:23 am UTC

Arariel wrote:Copyright is a barrier to entry. It is a legal monopoly created and enforced by the government.
No, it isn't. I mean, yes, it is, on the broadest scale, but it isn't the primary barrier of entry in this particular case. The barrier of entry in this particular case are the textbook requirements set by college courses. They're the ones who determine what textbook you need; they're the ones who prevent Joe Schmoe from writing a five dollar textbook that can compete with the hundred and twenty dollar textbook that is required for the course. Because it doesn't matter how good Joe Schmoe's textbook is; the hundred and twenty dollar textbook remains the textbook required for the course.

EDIT: Or are you arguing that if copyright didn't exist at all, Joe Schmoe could just copy all the hundred and twenty dollar textbooks and distribute them for free online?
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Re: Wiley sues student for infringing copyright on resold bo

Postby BattleMoose » Mon Oct 29, 2012 4:25 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
BattleMoose wrote:The action of the individual involved, is essentially towards equilibrating the price of the textbooks in the respective countries. Acting by himself, I doubt he could have much impact but if done en masse, essentially the price of the text books will be the same across both countries. If this were to continue, the publisher would take actions to maximize its profit, either stop selling to the "cheaper country" completely, or sell it to the "cheaper country" at first world prices. Both are negative outcomes for pretty much everyone, except the leeches trying to take advantage of an artificial and beneficial price gradient.
Isn't it possible that instead of increasing prices in the poorer region, a company might reduce the prices in the richer region to directly compete with the fellow who's engaging in arbitrage? I realize that's not the way it might go--but it's also another possibility, right? And depending on the nature of the arbitrage, it might turn out to be the most profitable course of action--yes?


I am working on the assumptions that the prices X and Y are selected so as to maximize profits in both richer and poorer regions.
And, that most of the profit will come from richer regions.

Now if I come along and buy heaps of product at cost Y and sell them in a rich region at +15% not only would the original company have to drop its prices to Y +15% to compete but they would also have lost market share to me. All products that I have resold, they only originally sold to me at Y and could only collect that margin.

Under this new dynamic, wherein I am seriously reducing their income, I'm fairly confident their best option would be to raise the price of their product to X in the poorer regions, hurt their profit from poor regions but eliminating arbitrage. Under this new dynamic, this would be the route that would maximize their profits.

Under this new dynamic, profits for the original company are decreased and the price in poorer regions is increased, both negative outcomes. The only loser is me, who can no longer practice arbitrage.

I'm also confused as to how this is a violation of copyright law. I suppose because there's no governing body for 'buying things in country X and selling things in country Y' where said thing is not illegal to sell or buy in either country?


I don't know if it is. I am arguing that it is something that we shouldn't allow, as it will produce negative outcomes.



BattleMoose wrote:TGH:
I would support a mechanism which both encourages the production of new copyrighted materials and makes Y as low as possible.
Being able to charge different amounts for the same goods in different regions can produce this outcome, if certain protections are included, otherwise Y = X and this is not an outcome that I think would be good.
I guess I'm just confused as to why we should expect Y to always increase to X. When arbitrage leads to a sufficient loss in profits to bring Y to X, I'd expect these two values to start approaching each other--but I don't find it intuitively obvious that arbitrage will lead to a sufficient loss in profits, or that the direction of that loss will increase Y in all cases (rather than decreasing X in some cases).


The two values won't approach each other, that is to say, the price in the richer regions, under arbitrage, will be higher than Y, so that I can turn a profit, there will always be a distinct difference.

The original company, being forced, under arbitrage to reduce their price from X to Y +15% and lose market share, I think will hurt their incomes, very very very badly. So much so that they will stop selling their product at Y, everywhere.

Thats my reasoning, I think it makes sense.

Either which way, I would support the solution that both maximizes the potential for the generation of new copyrighted material and reduces Y as much as possible.

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Re: Wiley sues student for infringing copyright on resold bo

Postby Diemo » Mon Oct 29, 2012 4:27 am UTC

Huh, my post disappeared. But what Hippo said.

BattleMoose, I disagree. I think that X will drop and Y will rise, to some new price Z
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Re: Wiley sues student for infringing copyright on resold bo

Postby Green9090 » Mon Oct 29, 2012 4:28 am UTC

Arariel wrote:Copyright is a barrier to entry. It is a legal monopoly created and enforced by the government.

I can only assume your argument here is that copyright shouldn't exist because then we could just download a pdf of the book some guy made with his scanner and bypass the monopoly altogether? That's a demonstrably stupid argument, but I really can't tell what else you're going for here.
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Re: Wiley sues student for infringing copyright on resold bo

Postby Arariel » Mon Oct 29, 2012 4:29 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:EDIT: Or are you arguing that if copyright didn't exist at all, Joe Schmoe could just copy all the hundred and twenty dollar textbooks and distribute them for free online?


That is true.

BattleMoose wrote:I don't know if it is. I am arguing that it is something that we shouldn't allow, as it will produce negative outcomes.


'For the greater good' doesn't seem to me a particularly compelling reason to do away with individual rights.

Green9090 wrote:
Arariel wrote:Copyright is a barrier to entry. It is a legal monopoly created and enforced by the government.

I can only assume your argument here is that copyright shouldn't exist because then we could just download a pdf of the book some guy made with his scanner and bypass the monopoly altogether? That's a demonstrably stupid argument, but I really can't tell what else you're going for here.


Pray tell how it is a demonstrably stupid argument?

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Re: Wiley sues student for infringing copyright on resold bo

Postby BattleMoose » Mon Oct 29, 2012 4:31 am UTC

Diemo wrote:Huh, my post disappeared. But what Hippo said.

BattleMoose, I disagree. I think that X will drop and Y will rise, to some new price Z


Thats a very well reasoned and coherent argument. Stellar work.

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Re: Wiley sues student for infringing copyright on resold bo

Postby Green9090 » Mon Oct 29, 2012 4:33 am UTC

Arariel wrote:
Green9090 wrote:
Arariel wrote:Copyright is a barrier to entry. It is a legal monopoly created and enforced by the government.

I can only assume your argument here is that copyright shouldn't exist because then we could just download a pdf of the book some guy made with his scanner and bypass the monopoly altogether? That's a demonstrably stupid argument, but I really can't tell what else you're going for here.


Pray tell how it is a demonstrably stupid argument?

Because nobody would write textbooks, or if they did they would lack the sort of quality that results from competing with other textbooks, because nobody's getting paid anyway so who gives a shit?
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Re: Wiley sues student for infringing copyright on resold bo

Postby Arariel » Mon Oct 29, 2012 4:36 am UTC

Green9090 wrote:
Arariel wrote:
Green9090 wrote:
Arariel wrote:Copyright is a barrier to entry. It is a legal monopoly created and enforced by the government.

I can only assume your argument here is that copyright shouldn't exist because then we could just download a pdf of the book some guy made with his scanner and bypass the monopoly altogether? That's a demonstrably stupid argument, but I really can't tell what else you're going for here.


Pray tell how it is a demonstrably stupid argument?

Because nobody would write textbooks, or if they did they would lack the sort of quality that results from competing with other textbooks, because nobody's getting paid anyway so who gives a shit?


My favourite maths textbook written, by a professor at the California Institute of Technology.

Anti-Copyright @ 1995-2001 by Mauch Publishing Company, un-Incorporated.
No rights reserved. Any part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted or
desecrated without permission.


By similar logic, no one would write operating systems or software. Yet there is still GPL and BSD software.

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Re: Wiley sues student for infringing copyright on resold bo

Postby The Great Hippo » Mon Oct 29, 2012 4:37 am UTC

Arariel wrote:
The Great Hippo wrote:EDIT: Or are you arguing that if copyright didn't exist at all, Joe Schmoe could just copy all the hundred and twenty dollar textbooks and distribute them for free online?


That is true.
Okay. This is what's confusing me, then:
Arariel wrote:Actually, this is in instance where government interference causes the problem in the first place. Government protects the monopoly; therefore, there is one.
Pretty much all forms of digitally reproducible media (visual, auditory, or both) are protected via a government-enforced monopoly. So when you say 'in this instance...', what you're saying is 'In pretty much any case where something can be easily copied and distributed'.

That's a very radical perspective, and it isn't one I was expecting (I also don't think it's one you made clear at the outset). I'm not sure how I'd feel about the complete destruction of copyright--I think copyright exists for a reason, and I don't think that just because something's easy means it should also be allowed.

Unless, of course, you're just advocating the destruction of copyright in the case of textbooks. That's a considerably less radical position (and one that could have some cool ramifications). The idea of an open-source digital textbook program strikes me as a pretty awesome one; get enough professors onboard, and you could probably--in the words of the immortal Jack Burton--shake the pillars of heaven.

EDIT: But even in this case, I wouldn't advocate the destruction of textbook copyright--I'd just advocate a competing 'open source' textbook culture that seeks to produce better, more widely accessible textbooks--and encourage their adoption by professors and students.
Last edited by The Great Hippo on Mon Oct 29, 2012 4:39 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.


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