The 'Invisible Hand' of Piracy: An Economic Analysis of the Information-Goods Supply Chain
MIS Quarterly, Vol. 42, No. 4, pp. 1117–1141 (2018)
Posted: 19 Apr 2014 Last revised: 6 Sep 2019
Date Written: January 9, 2018
We study the economic impact of piracy on the supply chain of information goods. When information goods are sold to consumers via a retailer, in certain situations, a moderate dose of piracy seems to have a surprising positive impact on the profits of the manufacturer and the retailer, while, at the same time, enhancing consumer welfare. Such a "win-win-win" situation is not only good for the overall supply chain, but is also beneficial for the overall economy. We argue that the economic rationale for this surprising result is rooted in how piracy interacts with the problem of double marginalization. We explain this rationale and develop useful insights for management and policy.
Keywords: Piracy, supply chain, retailer, double marginalization, digital goods, profit, welfare
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