The Pirate’s Dilemma: How Youth Culture Is Reinventing Capitalism


The Pirate’s Dilemma: How Youth Culture Is Reinventing Capitalism

I saw this book in a bookstore when we were trading in books and decided to give it a try – I’m glad I did, overall.

The author places piracy in a market context – so instead of knee-jerk reactions, this book studies the affect of free access on markets. “Pirates highlight areas where choice doesn’t exist and demand that it does.” (p. 46) There are a few case studies, most from the music industry – not surprising since the author was co-founder of a famous British music magazine.  I thought the hip-hop study went on too long; otherwise I thought the pacing of the material was good and the style clear and easy to read.

The last part of the book discusses the actual dilemma – that pirates create a new gap in a market, effectively disrupting it from the very bottom (free). Businesses have two ways to respond:

  • Legal – try to shut down the pirates, or
  • Compete – try to co-opt the market
The pirate's dilemma

The pirate’s dilemma

The legal approach only works if the market is niche, marginalized or if the product is upmarket, otherwise competing is the alternative.

If you’re looking for a good book on the positive side of piracy and what it means about and for markets, this is a good choice.


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