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Australians Urged To Spoof IP Addresses For Better Prices

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the won't-somebody-please-think-of-the-savings? dept.

Australia 206

angry tapir writes "Choice, a prominent Australian consumer advocacy group, has urged Australians to obfuscate their IP address to avoid geo-blocking and use US forwarding addresses to beat high IT prices. Australia is currently in the middle of parliamentary inquiry into the country's disproportionately high prices for technology. Choice also suggested setting up US iTunes accounts and using surrogate US addresses for forwarding packages from American stores. Choice has noted previously that Australians pay 52 per cent more for digital music downloads on iTunes compared to US users."

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Tor and using a specific exit node (and SSL!) (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41762155)

This is how I ended up buying Battlefield 3 premium on Origin for a fraction of the cost (1500 INR (=22 EUR) instead of 50 EUR) by pretending to be from India.

Re:Tor and using a specific exit node (and SSL!) (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41762333)

And this is the real reason for DRM, not piracy.

Re:Tor and using a specific exit node (and SSL!) (5, Insightful)

2fuf (993808) | about 2 years ago | (#41762411)

Yes, it's the reason for DRM and at the same time the reason for piracy ;-)

Re:Tor and using a specific exit node (and SSL!) (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41762515)

...and what you get for cooperating with real criminals; the parasitic music industry who produce nothing of their own, add no value and exploit the musician till they tire of promoting them, then leave them hanging to survive on state fair performances and oldies concerts.
Sorry to hear they didn't use any lube when gaping Australia.
Lesson: quit paying for music and starve the bastards out of business or learn to like the cream filling you get.
This isn't an intellectual property issue, this is about giving the music business back to the musicians and destroying the music industry for good.
Screw that stupid son of a bitch from "Cracker" and all the other brain dead dupes who think their artificial fame entitles them to fuck it up for everyone else. Kill the industry and music will thrive, musicians will thrive, music will be free and performance will be paid, the truly talented will reap their rewards and the garage bands will go home and practice.

Here is where you are wrong (3, Insightful)

Guru80 (1579277) | about 2 years ago | (#41763527)

This isn't an intellectual property issue, this is about giving the music business back to the musicians and destroying the music industry for good.

The musicians don't want to be in control of getting their songs sold or booking performances. They want the "industry". The only one's that don't are because they are already part of the "industry" themselves so they protect it. Face it, music is full of people who would be homeless and broke despite their talent if someone else wasn't there to force feed them marketing, sales, multi-million dollar contracts.

There is a relative handful that would thrive in the absence of said industry but most would be lost so for that alone we are stuck in the stone age when it comes to the music industry. Don't fool yourself, the vast majority of artists are willing to ride the Titanic to the bottom.

Re:Tor and using a specific exit node (and SSL!) (1)

lightknight (213164) | about 2 years ago | (#41762569)

Indeed. It appears they are desperate to recreate the market segmentation stuff they learned about in their Intro to Economics class, because they think it will earn them more money. Nevermind you need to banjax a government's laws to make it happen, which gives rise to all sorts of horrible side-effects. If you account for all the bribes to pass those laws, I think it would be hard to argue that they're breaking even.

Re:Tor and using a specific exit node (and SSL!) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41763447)

Exactly, the whole reason behind DVD region coding was greed.

Re:Tor and using a specific exit node (and SSL!) (4, Insightful)

Solandri (704621) | about 2 years ago | (#41763519)

Not exactly. I do agree that region-coding DRM sucks and should probably be banned. But that's not what's going on here.

The Australian dollar has gone up about 40% against the US dollar [google.com] in the last 5 years. If you compare game prices in AUD vs USD and subtract ~40%, you'll find the prices are nearly identical.

International contracts involving two currencies are usually written to cover one year at a fixed exchange rate. Consequently there's a large lag between when a currency goes up, and when prices go down (time constant is on the order of a year). Especially if the seller is a large manufacturer (like Apple), while the buyer represents a small market (Australia). They may not have enough negotiating leverage to get next year's contract changed to better reflect the high rate of currency appreciation. (To be fair, the manufacturer may also be worried that a currency rapidly rising in a few years is a sign that it'll also rapidly fall in coming years. And they don't want to get stuck holding the bag if that happens.)

Then you have the same thing going on at the retail level, where the retailer (who got ripped off by the manufacturer) now realizes the shoe's on the other foot, and they now have the upper hand in negotiating prices with the individual buyer. So you end up seeing retail prices which reflect the exchange rate 5 years ago, with half the excess going into the pockets of retailers, the other half going into the pockets of the overseas manufacturer.

The suggestion to buy from overseas is a good one. Typically the currency exchange fees and overseas shipping fees will more than offset any advantage you gain from lower pricing from buying overseas. But when the disparity is this pronounced, its sufficient to exert downward pressure on prices. The last thing you want to be doing in this sort of situation is grudgingly pay the higher prices.

It's not just games (5, Interesting)

mjwx (966435) | about 2 years ago | (#41762367)

It's not just games that we buy from overseas for cheap. Phones, cameras, computers, car and bike parts. All because local distributors used to have us by the balls with pricing. Games were A$90, Movies and CD's A$30 a piece and considering the AUD has been above 1 USD for the last few years, pricing like this is just taking the piss.

Well no more, I can order just about anything and get it shipped here for less. I order games from the UK for half the price of local games, DVD box sets that retail for A$75 I purchase for 11 pounds (AUD$17), My Canon Ixus 230 came from Hong Kong for A$100 less than here, I bought myself a laptop from the US, US$899 (A$840, a very favourable exch rate at the time) and got it shipped over tax free (personal imports under A$1000 are not subject to GST, note this is now A$900), Asus didn't even sell this model here but the previous model was A$1400. Even retailers are getting in on this very sweet action, JB HiFi and even Harvey Norman are selling "direct import" cameras and games and giving the middle finger to distributors.

You think in this environment the distributors would have learned and instituted fair pricing... Well they haven't and as much as the bang on about it, no one in parliament will lift a finger to protect them. Suffer in your jocks you smarmy, self centred bastards. Now we just need to allow more used cars to be imported, an Australian Nissan 350z costs A$30-40K, an imported Japanese Nissan 350GT costs A$20-30K imported and they are practically the same car (the 350z was down-tuned compared to the 350GT) but you are only allowed to import cars on the SEVS list (Specialist and Enthusiast Vehicles) which were never available for sale in Oz so I couldn't buy a cheap JDM Honda Integra Type R.

This is how I ended up buying Battlefield 3 premium

My sympathies sir, I too bought Battlefield 3 before realising how crap of a game it was.

Re:It's not just games (3, Interesting)

Canazza (1428553) | about 2 years ago | (#41762469)

Make it a Green issue. All that importing half-way across the world must burn alot of Jet Fuel. I'm sure they'll sit up and listen when they figure out that over-inflated prices are destroying the Great Barrier Reef.

Re:It's not just games (4, Informative)

ozmanjusri (601766) | about 2 years ago | (#41762619)

How much jet fuel does it take to ship a Technet subscription?

Microsoft charges $599 in the US compared to $1048 in AU.

http://i.imgur.com/qQNn4.png [imgur.com]

Re:It's not just games (3, Funny)

Elbart (1233584) | about 2 years ago | (#41763053)

The US-navy deploys those with F18s. Those aircraft-carriers are expensive.

Re:It's not just games (3, Insightful)

fatphil (181876) | about 2 years ago | (#41763143)

If only someone would take all the massless parts of the product - the 0 and 1 bits, and transport them at next-to-no cost to Australia. Imagine the fossil fuels saved by doing that - these guys would be regarded as heroes. Shame about all the prison time they'd be forced to serve at the hands of the MAFIAA.

Re:It's not just games (3, Interesting)

arisvega (1414195) | about 2 years ago | (#41762597)

To me the actual topic here is: "Australia is currently in the middle of parliamentary inquiry into the country's disproportionately high prices for technology." (emphasis mine)

But why is that? Was this situation 'naturally selected' because of a compination of Oceania's geographical placement and some opportunistic merchants, because of something more sinister, or what? Any insights?

Re:It's not just games (1)

bloodhawk (813939) | about 2 years ago | (#41762665)

It seems more a case of every companies excuse is they charge what everyone else charges, some try and argue it is the cost of wages here, but Australian online retailers do the same exhorbitant rates. Then you have a few that claim. "Oh we set our prices when the Aussie dollar was much lower and have not gotten around to re-evaluating the prices yet but we will get to it in due time"

Re:It's not just games (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41763561)

But why is that?

It's all about greed. They charge more because there are no laws saying they can't.

Re:It's not just games (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about 2 years ago | (#41762621)

Food and daily basics are cheaper in developing countries but computers and electronics I never found to be any cheaper. At times they were more expensive to be honest.

Re:It's not just games (3, Interesting)

grcumb (781340) | about 2 years ago | (#41763059)

You think in this environment the distributors would have learned and instituted fair pricing... Well they haven't and as much as the bang on about it, no one in parliament will lift a finger to protect them.

It's especially galling to see that prices for identical hardware are lower in New Zealand, which has only a small fraction of Australia's population and which is actually farther from the most common markets.

I live in a country (very) roughly equidistant from the two, and travel fairly regularly to both. Last year, I was shopping for an Android phone and discovered that the number on the sticker was the same in both countries. Given that NZD 1 is worth about AUD 0.79, that's a bit of a difference. Just to add insult to injury, the prices were from the very same tech store chain!

There is no logical reason that I can find to justify hardware prices in Australia.

Did you hear that? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41762157)

That's the sound of the USTR laughing his way to the bank.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Price_discrimination

It's just another hilarious way intellectual property law is used to make money through abusing international borders.

Good riddance to geo-blocking (5, Insightful)

madsdyd (228464) | about 2 years ago | (#41762175)

I live in Denmark, and recently spent 30 minutes to try and buy an english e-book online.

Found it at 3 different retailers (US, UK, Australia), that refused to sell it to me (add it to the basket), because of my location.

Then found it at 2 additional retailers, that allowed me to add it to a basket, then accepted my credit-card information, before refusing to actually sell it to me.

Then I got sort of mad and decided to break a 15 year old principle on not pirating stuff. Went to google, and had the ebook literally 30 seconds later! 10 seconds later on my device, and I could start reading.

What on earth are they thinking!

Oh, and I then later wrote the agent for the writer in question here in Denmark, and in the UK to offer payment. I have not heard a word from the UK agent, and the Danish one just confirmed that they do not sell the english language version of that writer in Denmark as an ebook.

Fools, really. And, they are probably, as I write this, banging on the door to the parliament, requiering stricter copyright laws.

Fools.

Re:Good riddance to geo-blocking (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41762215)

The internet (as it is currently permitted to exist by the powers that be) make geographical location meaningless.

Re:Good riddance to geo-blocking (1)

Lillebo (1561251) | about 2 years ago | (#41762771)

The parent AC (as he is currently permitted to exist by the powers that be) make optimistic idealism meaningless.

Re:Good riddance to geo-blocking (5, Interesting)

Chatsubo (807023) | about 2 years ago | (#41762235)

Stuff like this is especially maddening when they require you to ship digital products.

I had an experience recently where I got a gift voucher for Amazon. I went there knowing a game I wanted would be about the value of the voucher. To my delight I found a digital-only version for the right price.

"Sweet, I'll be playing this puppy in an hour or so!". No beans. Digital copy not available in my country.

WHAT?! Why?! I can go down the road and buy this title legitimately in my country for the same price!

Then I was going: OK, I'll buy the frikkin physical thing then. Only to find shipping the damn disc to my country was going to cost the entire price of the game. So to use my voucher I was going to have to pay the entire price of the voucher for shipping. Something I could, once again, just go do at my corner store.

Finally I contacted a US-based friend and just shipped the disc to him for no shipping charge, and had him email me the serial. Then I found a digital copy of the data myself.

Hint: Never give foreigners vouchers for online retailers. It's a burden to the recipient.

Re:Good riddance to geo-blocking (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41762243)

In Europe, you could buy Japanese DVDs as they were in the same zone and I was happy. Now that Japan has stopped being in the same zone as Europe for Bluray, I will never buy a Bluray player. There is no way to buy and watch Japanese movies legally anymore.

Re:Good riddance to geo-blocking (4, Informative)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#41762325)

BluRay drive for the computer. anyDVD and handbrake. It strips out the region locking and the useless DRM to allow you to create a file that can play on a media center or right there on your laptop/desktop

Rip out their DRM.

Re:Good riddance to geo-blocking (2)

ciderbrew (1860166) | about 2 years ago | (#41762557)

yes, but you shouldn't have to bother with it really.

Re:Good riddance to geo-blocking (1)

delt0r (999393) | about 2 years ago | (#41762335)

Code free players are common and no illegal in Europe. Well at least not in Austria.

Re:Good riddance to geo-blocking (1)

David Gerard (12369) | about 2 years ago | (#41762471)

Players in Australia are actually required to be code-free, or easily made code-free.

Re:Good riddance to geo-blocking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41762623)

However, that doesn't apply to DVD drives in computers, or to laptops accepting DVD drives: Apple and Sony argued that the availability of external DVD drives is an adequate solution to the problem, so they don't have to provide non-region firmware, and no-one has contested it.

Re:Good riddance to geo-blocking (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | about 2 years ago | (#41763119)

Given the lack of optical drives in new Macs, external drives are the only way to go. I suppose now we will simply need to find out which drives can easily be made region free?

Re:Good riddance to geo-blocking (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#41762245)

Who's the fool? The people who attempt to purchase legislation, or the idiots who elect and reelect the corrupt politicians who sell themselves to the highest bidder?

Re:Good riddance to geo-blocking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41762343)

Do I want the corrupt politician who is for abortion, or the corrupt politician who is against it?

Re:Good riddance to geo-blocking (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41762359)

Neither, because there are more options, people are just too blind to realize.

Re:Good riddance to geo-blocking (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41762347)

What do you want, a massive refusal to vote? Because all politicians are for sale to the highest bidder these days.

Re:Good riddance to geo-blocking (4, Interesting)

Chrisq (894406) | about 2 years ago | (#41762281)

I live in Denmark, and recently spent 30 minutes to try and buy an english e-book online.

Found it at 3 different retailers (US, UK, Australia), that refused to sell it to me (add it to the basket), because of my location.

IANAL but the UK site is probably breaking the law due to the free movement of goods and services within the EU. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Good riddance to geo-blocking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41762355)

Likely they will claim that their hands are tied by the publisher.

Re:Good riddance to geo-blocking (3, Insightful)

Chrisq (894406) | about 2 years ago | (#41762377)

Likely they will claim that their hands are tied by the publisher.

Interestingly most publishers say they are keen on a single market for books [publishing...ctives.com] across the EU:

The publishers also insisted that they are signing licences with authors allowing them to distribute the books in a said language on a pan-European basis. There is no obstacle in the contract between publishers and retailers which prevent these retailers to sell a German ebook to Greece or a Spanish ebook to the United Kingdom for example.

BTW the linked article makes it look as though I was wrong in thinking that the free movement of goods and services would make it illegal currently, but moves are afoot to make it so.

Re:Good riddance to geo-blocking (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | about 2 years ago | (#41763149)

Likely they will claim that their hands are tied by the publisher.

Which would likely be a poor excuse. If that is the case, then you should be contacting your MEP (Member of European Parliament).

Re:Good riddance to geo-blocking (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 years ago | (#41762441)

IANAL but the UK site is probably breaking the law due to the free movement of goods and services within the EU.

IANALE, but isn't that only about guaranteeing the free movement of goods at a government level, as opposed to making it mandatory? Should a private company be forced to deliver a sofa to Svalbard even if it's prohibitively complicated and expensive to do so?

Re:Good riddance to geo-blocking (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 2 years ago | (#41762561)

IANALE, but isn't that only about guaranteeing the free movement of goods at a government level, as opposed to making it mandatory? Should a private company be forced to deliver a sofa to Svalbard even if it's prohibitively complicated and expensive to do so?

You mean if the customer is willing to pay for the prohibitively complicated and expensive delivery?

Re:Good riddance to geo-blocking (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 years ago | (#41762701)

Yes, I actually don't think that would be unreasonable. But, having said that, someone else has pointed me at this:

http://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/shopping/online-shopping/when-things-go-wrong/index_en.htm [europa.eu]

which seems like it could be unnecessarily problematic for small companies (if you run a bakery that takes orders online to be delivered around Paris by motorbike, does that mean you have to ship to Berlin if someone wants a doughnut?)

Re:Good riddance to geo-blocking (3, Interesting)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 2 years ago | (#41762555)

This issue is currently being tested in the European courts. Ebooks, digital music, satellite TV broadcasts and the like are typically supplied by the content provided with an exclusive license for a certain part of the world. The retailer is not allowed to sell outside that area by the license agreement. So far the courts have ruled this to be illegal under current rules.

For example there is a woman in the UK buying English league football matches from a satellite TV provider in Europe for a fraction of the price it would cost from Sky in the UK. So far the courts have agreed that she is within her right to do that, even though Sky are supposed to have an exclusive license to show the games in the UK.

Re:Good riddance to geo-blocking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41762675)

In that case, it will probably come down to a question of who is doing the importing, unless it is decided that regional licensing in general is impermissible.

Re:Good riddance to geo-blocking (4, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#41762319)

Welcome to what happens when copyright get's out of control. Thank the United States Congress for that.

Re:Good riddance to geo-blocking (2)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 2 years ago | (#41762567)

Now now, don't give the US all the honor.
Pretty much every civilized country deserves a share of the credit for copyright terrorism.

Re:Good riddance to geo-blocking (3, Insightful)

luvirini (753157) | about 2 years ago | (#41762705)

Indeed they are, but US is pushing it hard globally, most others involved are just nodding heads.

Re:Good riddance to geo-blocking (3, Insightful)

jonfr (888673) | about 2 years ago | (#41762341)

I have also seen this. But I live in Denmark. Amazon refuses to sell e-books to Denmark from UK. Therefor breaking EU law in this regards (single market). Why this is the case I do not know. But I am sure this is illegal to start with. Regardless who is selling the digital material. This does not only apply to e-books. As Amazon for instances refuses to sell mp3 files to Denmark as well.

I am also a publisher of e-books. I do not understand this type of stupid. As I for instance I want to sell my e-books everywhere. The sad thing is that I might not have a lot to say about it in the end.

Re:Good riddance to geo-blocking (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 years ago | (#41762453)

Therefor breaking EU law in this regards (single market).

I thought the single market was about abolishing government-level barriers to trade. Is there a part of the law that says a private company must ship to Iceland if it ships to France?

Re:Good riddance to geo-blocking (1)

jonfr (888673) | about 2 years ago | (#41762495)

Iceland is not in the EU. But it is part of EEA. So only part of the EU law applies. The rules on consumer rights only apply in part when it comes to Iceland. But here is the EU web page on this.

http://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/shopping/online-shopping/when-things-go-wrong/index_en.htm [europa.eu]

Re:Good riddance to geo-blocking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41762603)

I would *guess* that they couldn't refuse to ship to Iceland as long as the customer absorbs any additional costs...

Re:Good riddance to geo-blocking (1)

fatphil (181876) | about 2 years ago | (#41763297)

> Therefor breaking EU law in this regards (single market)

Precisely which law do you think is being broken?

A pizza delivery place in Bristol won't deliver to Saltaire. That's not breaking the law, and that's in the same freaking country. In no way does EU law demand that vendors perform trade with people in all locations.

The EU common market laws are mostly aimed at the member states themselves to not prevent the businesses from trading how they want, enabling the businesses and the trades, rather than placing obligations on those businesses.

Re:Good riddance to geo-blocking (1)

alexgieg (948359) | about 2 years ago | (#41762449)

Then I got sort of mad and decided to break a 15 year old principle on not pirating stuff. Went to google, and had the ebook literally 30 seconds later! 10 seconds later on my device, and I could start reading.

Well, I don't have that specific principle as, for me, copyright itself is immoral. On the other hand, I believe in paying for actual services, including that of convenience, and also in paying authors for works I like (as an entirely voluntary act of appreciation for the author, not because it'd in some way be "morally correct" to do so). So, while I mostly pay for digital goods, and gladly so, I have absolutely no qualms about going the pirate route the very instant "they" make it difficult. If at the very first click some bullshit that translate to "we don't want your money" happens, my very next step is Pirate Bay or Usenet, no second thoughts.

Typical case in point: I have an anime subscription to Crunchyroll. I can see tons of great anime, but many of the ones available in the site are still region locked and unstreamable here. Now, ask me how many of those that I wanted to watch I didn't watch. So, yeah. :-)

Re:Good riddance to geo-blocking (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41762533)

ebookee.org

If your impetus as an author or musician is to generate revenue, you're not an artist, you're a parasite. The basic human trait of freely sharing works of art cannot be legislated out of existence, nor can it be contained.

Re:Good riddance to geo-blocking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41763557)

If your impetus as a designer or software engineer is to generate revenue, you're not an engineer, you're a parasite. The basic human trait of freely sharing source code cannot be legislated out of existence, nor can it be contained.

FTFY. It's all the same, right?

Re:Good riddance to geo-blocking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41762759)

If you can't join 'em, beat 'em.

Re:Good riddance to geo-blocking (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | about 2 years ago | (#41763103)

For the UK company what was the argument for not shipping to you? Depending on what the reason was, you may want to check with your local MEP.

Legacy of Regional Pricing (5, Informative)

StoneyMahoney (1488261) | about 2 years ago | (#41762189)

Regional differences in pricing stem from pre-globalisation economics. With no overlap between regional markets, prices would be set on a per-market basis and never the twain did meet. In a post-globalisation Internet-levelled playing field, regional price differences make no little sense for purely-digital products, except where national sales-related taxes differ. The only reason to maintain these regional price variations to artificially inflate profit margins at the expense of the consumer.

In theory, the libertarian free-marker doctrine should cause this price difference to level out fairly quickly once the market starts to take advantage of (and offense to) these cross-border variations. Let's see if that theory works in practice...

Anyone want to bet on legislation increasing to prevent cross-region sales instead?

Re:Legacy of Regional Pricing (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 2 years ago | (#41762283)

A large part of the problem is copyright and patents. You actually need to get permission to sell things in different countries even though you might have it already for your country. This is largely because the laws are different in the other countries and the copyright or patent owners has to decide if they will allow their works to be subject to them or not and whether or not they want the hassle of enforcing the rights in the foreign country. Some foreign legal system will require the rights holder to be present to sue, some allow copying in circumstances that aren't in the home state.

You are most likely correct, there will be legislation involved and if getting around this is widespread it will likely be to prevent it.

So no fould in piracy, then. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41762451)

If the refusal to sell a title were enough to confirm that there is no foul in pirating the same thing, then the copyright owner and distributors would RUN to ensure the titles were sold worldwide.

Re:So no fould in piracy, then. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41762849)

In countries with only actual damages (e.g. Australia), you could possibly argue that no damage was done because there were no lost sales. However, that probably wouldn't work if it was available for sale, but only at a very high price (such as what it would cost to print a single copy)

Re:So no fould in piracy, then. (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 2 years ago | (#41763031)

I'm not sure what you are trying to say but there is no excuse to pirate something based on a rights holder's desire to distribute. That's the entire idea behind copyright and is shared to a large degree by every country that observes copyrights- the rights owner has the sole rights to copying and distribution. Even though the laws may be different in different countries, copyright is internationally covered by several treaties that most of the world has committed to following that says the same things. This is how the US was able to get an AU citizen extradited to the US for trial over a criminal copyright violation that was not a criminal act in AU.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hew_Raymond_Griffiths [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_O'Dwyer [wikipedia.org]

However, I think you missed my point in general. It takes different considerations to approve whether or not you will allow your copyright to be subject to the laws of another location that may not be the same as yours. If the copyright holders think this required an increase in royalty payments, or requires extra steps from the distributor or whatever, it is something that happens. This is not something new and ignorance of it does not create a new set of circumstances. Saying company X can sell under these laws is not the same as saying company X can sell under a different set of laws. It may cost more to sell under the other sets of laws. It really is that simple even though you can reach company X from anywhere and under any set of laws.

Re:Legacy of Regional Pricing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41762291)

We shouldn't have to rely on cross-region sales. We should be able to resell our ebooks. Doctrine of first sale - one of the fundamental laws that makes a free-market economy work.

Re:Legacy of Regional Pricing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41762517)

...but they don't sell you an ebook, they just sell you a licence to access it, any "shenanigans" on your part (treating the ebook like you actually OWN it etc) and they just might remove that "privilege" and "poof" goes your ebook :(

Just ask your local Library/Librarians, they're pretty knowledgeable about the pitfalls to civil society of this business model, and are 'spitting tacks' that it means communities can't share the cultural products of their own society (purchased in common for the benefit of the community). Libraries are expert at using DRM to prevent copying (after all they want a healthy book industry and have a deep understanding of copyright rather than any knee jerk all-or-nothing view) yet in most cases they are hugely overcharged for ebooks, if they can even get a publisher or vendor to provide them at all, and the licences are incredibly restrictive and getting worse.

It's the usual story, similar to the music industry, the people who wouldn't have abused ebook access are penalized and driven to "break the law" which means publishers will eventually lose out... and Libraries, being prevented from sharing knowledge by the short sighted book industry, are strangled of content and wither away - a huge loss for society.

Re:Legacy of Regional Pricing (1)

Richard Pounder (2754007) | about 2 years ago | (#41762293)

Definitely true, but also a fair percentage of those pre-globalisation prices are based on the fact the Australian dollar had historicaly traded at roughtly 25% lower vs the US dollar than it has been the last few years (averaged about 75-80c to as low as 50c), add a 10% tax that is also added to all goods and services and you're getting fairly close to the 52% we're being overcharged. Mind you this isnt a defence of the system just a bunch of related contributing factors that make me feel these good times we're experience with increased purchasing power probably wont last forever, but I do feel retailers here should be attempting to "meet us in the middle" a bit more so to speak, some are but others refuse.

Re:Legacy of Regional Pricing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41762295)

In theory, the libertarian free-marker doctrine should cause this price difference to level out fairly quickly once the market starts to take advantage of (and offense to) these cross-border variations. Let's see if that theory works in practice...

Well, that would be interesting. To test the theory in practice it is necessary to remove any artificial market restrictions like patents, copyright and trademarks. It is also necessary to device a way to prevent larger companies from killing off competition by taking profit from an unrelated segment to drop the prices on the market where the competition is.
Under those circumstances I think it could work pretty good but I would rather try it in smaller steps.

Re:Legacy of Regional Pricing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41762307)

Yes and no, Australians paying more really only made sense when the goods were being shipped in from outside of Australia, but that shouldn't the case any longer.

But, price differences are natural and to an extent desirable, here in China a $20 product is several hours worth of work for most of the folks here, and as highly paid as I am, that's still more than an hours work, probably an hour and a half. But for folks in the developed world, $20 isn't as big of a deal. I can eat out most days for a month for that $20, but back home I might be able to eat out twice if I don't drink any alcohol.

Re:Legacy of Regional Pricing (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#41762331)

You haven't been back in a while. Eating at a decent restaurant and not Mc-Donalds will consume all of the $20.00 without having a drink at all. Hope you did not want a salad or dessert. Water is still free..

Re:Legacy of Regional Pricing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41762529)

regional price differences make no little sense for purely-digital products

You mean, not even the difference in average income plays a role ? People in countries with a high average income should be able to buy from countries with a low average income ?

Or do you only think of your own wallet and let the low average income people be damned -- cause the prices there would go up if that is deemed "fair trade" ?

Hmmm ... Maybe we should find a conversion-rate for buying stuff from other countries where the cost of an article is calculated as a percentage of the average income of the country its bought in, and than re-calculated back to money against the average income in the country of the buyer ....

Buying a $5 thingy from an $100 average-income country means it would cost $50 when b(r)ought into an $1000 average-income country.

Re:Legacy of Regional Pricing (1)

TFAFalcon (1839122) | about 2 years ago | (#41762943)

If there was a single market, then yes, prices in low income countries would go down. But at the same time, income would go up. Local businesses could charge more for their products in the local market while also paying their employees more.
At the same times, prices and income in high income countries would go down.

Re:Legacy of Regional Pricing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41762733)

Problem with said doctrine is that it hinges on competition to drive the price down.

Except that there can't be a true competition unless two different producer's products are interchangeable (like say two different brands of refrigerators). But this falls flat when talking about "intellectual property".

Aussie Parliament (1)

aglider (2435074) | about 2 years ago | (#41762279)

is spending time in discussing iTunes and Amazon prices?
That's a nice country, indeed!

Re:Aussie Parliament (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41762329)

No! Did you even bother to read it before commenting, "Choice, a prominent Australian consumer advocacy group" NOT the Australian parliment!

Re:Aussie Parliament (2)

bendy (34731) | about 2 years ago | (#41762391)

Actually, yes, the Parliament is spending time discussing iTunes and Amazon prices:

http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/House_of_Representatives_Committees?url=ic/itpricing/hearings.htm

Re:Aussie Parliament (1)

Zuriel (1760072) | about 2 years ago | (#41763147)

Did *you* read before commenting? The summary said:

Australia is currently in the middle of parliamentary inquiry into the country's disproportionately high prices for technology.

Google turned up a reference [aph.gov.au]

House of Representatives Committees
House Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications
Inquiry into IT Pricing

On 24 May 2012 the Committee resolved to inquire into IT price discrimination, following a request from the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy.

Re:Aussie Parliament (1)

mjwx (966435) | about 2 years ago | (#41762383)

is spending time in discussing iTunes and Amazon prices?
That's a nice country, indeed!

If you believe /. the only thing Parliament wants to do is steal "mah freedomz(TM)" and "censor teh internetz" (both of which didn't come to pass BTW, I'm a free Australian free with uncensored intertubes). The majority of Parliamentary members are not pushing for this, in fact most of the Labor party rebelled over the idea of internet censorship. Things like price disparity and other issues that matter to the average Australian come up quite often in between petty bickering and snide jibes between Liberal and Labor (which to be honest, takes up 3/4 of parliament sitting time).

With all it's flaws (of which, there are a great many) I'd rather have the parliament of Australia which the very least, is not a corporate sock puppet.

Re:Aussie Parliament (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41762401)

No, the Aussie parliament are arguing about whether the opposition leader is a misogynist and generally trying to see who can make themselves look like the biggest idiot without losing their seat. It's a bit like Blackjack: unfortunately, the Opposition have hit on 21 a few times recently (the kleptomaniac and the guy who's surely about to be found sucking off a rent boy any day now, just for my state's senators).

Every time the government looks at the price of online services, they conclude that they need to make them more expensive so bricks-and-mortar shops will win, not that we're getting ripped off.

Cat n mouse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41762287)

Choice also urging retailers to ditch Australia's strong consumer protection laws.

Canada has the same issu:e (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41762371)

Books in Canada are marked with two prices; one for a sale in Canada and one for a sale in the US. Despite the fact that the Canadian dollar is worth about the same (sometimes more sometimes less depending on the day) as a US dollar, the cost difference is usually significant. There's no real reason for it. The difference is a hangover from when the difference between the two currencies was large. Retailers see this as a profit boost.

Many other products are generally more expensive in Canada vs the US - cars in particular. Border towns in Canada see a huge flux of people cross-border shopping as a result.

Now and then someone complains, the retailers whine about OH NOES, IT'S DIFFERENT IN CANADA - LESS PEOPLE - SHOULD COST MORE. Yeah - always fun comparing the huge price discrepancies between Amazon.ca and Amazon.com for the same product.

AC

Productivity Commission Report (3, Interesting)

Spikeles (972972) | about 2 years ago | (#41762387)

There was a report last year from the Productivity Commission which is "the Australian Government's principal review and advisory body on microeconomic policy and regulation. It is an independent statutory authority in the Treasury Portfolio and responds to references from the Treasurer. "

This specific report is for the Retail industry, but there is a very good chapter on online and price differences, which includes some parts talking about things like Apple's Price Discrimination. For those interested, the report can be found here Economic Structure and Performance of the Australian Retail Industry [pc.gov.au] . The price differences part is Chapter 6. [pc.gov.au]

I'll quote some relevant parts:

Box 6.4 - Apple’s international price discrimination
Costs associated with the distribution of Australian specific content and marketing could mean that higher fixed costs apply to the Australian subsidiary. But given the costs associated with the distribution of music and other media are only likely to be a relatively small share of total costs, this does not fully explain or justify the price differential.

The Commission considers that Australian consumers will buy goods where they feel they get the best deal regardless of retail format and that retailers that do not, or are unable to, respond effectively to competitive pressures will face serious challenges.

Willful Misrepresentation is a Crime (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41762395)

Willfully misrepresenting material facts in order to obtain a financial benefit to which one would not otherwise be entitled is a fraud crime.

Re:Willful Misrepresentation is a Crime (5, Insightful)

bloodhawk (813939) | about 2 years ago | (#41762725)

But we are not misrepresenting at all, I am legitimately utilising a VPN Service. I am not saying I am something I am not. It isn't our fault companies are morons and rely on a VPN address to try and work out what country I am from. IP Addressing was never intended for this use.

Re:Willful Misrepresentation is a Crime (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41762869)

No one is misrepresenting facts. companies are doing the equivalent of looking at someone in the street and deciding on their ethnicity, what your suggesting is that if a company was doing that you could then charge someone with looking too mexican or too indian as misrepresenting facts. the simple FACT here is these companies don't ask, they take guesses based on network information hitting their servers, it is a horribly flawed and idiotic means to work out this information.

Brazil have the same problem (4, Interesting)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | about 2 years ago | (#41762427)

Here we have the same problem, but in our case it affects anything and everything that comes from overseas. I have to pay three times what you Americans pay for an SSD, ridiculous is not it?

Incidentally, interesting question ... Why businesses can freely look around the globe a place to produce things, while we consumers are forced to buy our things in a very restricted manner (You can even import, but only if you pay double or even triple) and for much more than we should? Capitalism and free market for large companies, Dictatorship for consumers?

Re:Brazil have the same problem (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 2 years ago | (#41762951)

Incidentally, interesting question ... Why businesses can freely look around the globe a place to produce things, while we consumers are forced to buy our things in a very restricted manne.

Why? Well, you won't like the answer: The common man is akin to chattel that the ruling classes farm. You have less buying power and control over your own markets because none of the workers get compensated fairly for the true value they provide to those that they work for. Combine with this the fact that it is written into the legal DNA of a Corporate entity at inception that they will always seek profit by any means necessary, or face death by shareholder: You get Lower wages and Higher Prices.

This is what happens in the latter stages of any Machine Invasion. You suffer because of our war with the Intangible Thought Machines -- They won.
Where is John & Sarah Conner or Neo when you need them? Hell, I'd settle for Rube Goldberg at this point; Maybe he'd be able to find the way to arrange the horrible information machines into a giant contraption that meets the needs of the many, instead of the wants of the few.

A little quid-pro-quo offer? (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 2 years ago | (#41762437)

So we get iTunes downloads cheaper, you have bank accounts that actually pay meaningful interest rates. Maybe we can work out a trade?

Re:A little quid-pro-quo offer? (1)

erroneus (253617) | about 2 years ago | (#41762611)

Yes Clarice... quid pro quo... you offer me and I return to you.

Send me your money and I'll keep it in my bank account for you... :) Sounds like a wonderful idea. Want my paypal email account?

Re:A little quid-pro-quo offer? (2)

jkflying (2190798) | about 2 years ago | (#41762659)

Bank accounts with high interest rates which hold currencies with high inflation. Not so useful as you'd imagine.

and they wonder why we "steal" shit,... (4, Insightful)

AbRASiON (589899) | about 2 years ago | (#41762439)

Steam does this - although generally not Valve who are good about this but more big big publishers who are sharing the service with Valve. Luckily with US contacts, I can be 'gifted' games at US prices.

It's disgusting and it's bullshit, if you're willing to sell a game, or a song or a book or fuck even a physical product to an American for X price and I produce the same amount of money for you and I take care of the shipping (or downloading the fucking bits) then frankly, fuck you for trying to charge me more.

This is much worse for console using folk on PSN and the 360, sure I have a US PSN account but I don't WANT to have to buy PSN 'money' in US format from gift cards just to get games at reasonable prices and then be left with 3$ or 13$ or whatever in 'change' on my account.
Honestly this bullshit just stops me participating entirely.

About the only reasonable thing of late is PC parts in Australia, due to the proximity to Asia and the AU$ being strong so long (and of course PC parts, high turnover) for the most part, CPU's, RAM, HDD's and so on are very very close to the US. Mind you if you are picky and want something high end or obscure like high end SAS controllers and stuff like that, sorry buddy, 4x the price.

So as I started with,... they wonder why we steal shit.... sigh

Re:and they wonder why we "steal" shit,... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41762699)

You steal shit because you guys are descendants of criminals living on a very unpleasant island. Between being loud and drinking beer, dishonesty is practically all Aussies know.

Very important (4, Informative)

David Gerard (12369) | about 2 years ago | (#41762461)

Choice is really highly respected in Australia. This makes this an extremely mainstream issue, not just of geek interest.

Re:Very important (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41762595)

Too bad the Australian PBS pays 28% more for the same drugs as the UK (source UK NHS) - wasting a billion dollars or so. They are not doing anything either.
The actual reason is stupid Aussie businesses buy 'exclusive' import rights for a small fortune on borrowed money, then enter into illegal price fixing agreements and or restrictive geo supply arrangements (Nike is infamous for the latter). We have just avoided two public free to air TV networks narrowly avoid going bust, because they pay multiples of what American FTA stations pay.

I have been waiting 20 years for useless politicians to actually do something. Meanwhile shops and small retailers in Australia are going under because their supply cost is more than mail order delivered. Postage OUT of Australia is also very uncompetitive, cheaper to get a book posted from London, and 300k's away.

I use a reshipping service a lot for USA items I cannot source on Aliexpress . It is said in economics 101 that when you overprice something by 20% bad things happen. Now pricing information is more transparent, people are going to going to reject or workaround being stiffed, and get it online. The trickle is turning to a flood.

I bypass it (1)

bloodhawk (813939) | about 2 years ago | (#41762537)

I started bypassing the GEO-Blocking from Australia 6 months ago. previously I was paying $125 a month for foxtel (Australian pay TV). I now stream Netflix, Vudu and Hulu giving me access to a movie and TV library many times the size for a fraction of the cost. I have no objection to paying for my content, I do object to the extortionate rates they try and charge us here though. I order my games internationally as well as camera gear and many other items retailers here believe we should pay 100% markup for just for the privilege of shopping here.

What?! Thwarting capitalism?! You don't say!? (1)

erroneus (253617) | about 2 years ago | (#41762591)

Actually, this is still capitalism... or the free market or whatever you like. #1 The sellers do whatever the market will bear. #2 The buyers do not want to bear it while they have alternatives. So what's the end-game here? Well? I suppose it depends on whether or not the government was getting tax revenue from these higher prices. If they were, then you can bet there will be some sort of legislation against the use of proxies or similar methods to avoid price fixing scams... or "tax avoidance."

But if this is a bunch of sellers who came to realize "hey! they expect to pay higher prices anyway, so let's make sure they do!" then to hell with them. They will lose.. they will lose without government backing. But that's kind of the way it works everywhere isn't it?

Car Maker Sell Cars Cheaper in US Than Where Built (1, Interesting)

darrenm (1632751) | about 2 years ago | (#41762789)

This is another great example. Here are cars being built in Canada and being sold for much less after being shipped to the US than they can be bought for in the same city they are built in.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/story/2012/06/12/ottawa-car-price-disparity-border-shopping.html [www.cbc.ca]

Using Canadian dollars for Canada and US in USA, but currency has been around par for the last couple of years.

As an example:
Honda builds the Acura MDX in Alliston, Ontario Canada, but to buy one from the dealer in that town costs $9,660 more (MSRP) than going to Honolulu, Hawaii USA to purchase one.

Honda says that there are different market conditions and the costs of marketing in two official languages.

Or how about Toyota that also builds Corollas in Ontario. But they charge a Freight and PDI of $1,465 in Canada versus $760 in the US.

Interesting dynamic (0)

siwelwerd (869956) | about 2 years ago | (#41762821)

I find the tone of this discussion quite interesting. The general theme seems to be that the price in Australia is higher than The One True And Just Price, and how dare these evil companies take advantage of the Australians. However, I'd wager there is not this level of disgust when a company sells something to some people for a price less than The One True And Just Price (e.g. books in India, coupons at the grocery store, etc.). It seems like people's perception plays the largest role in whether they find price stratification objectionable--if a company "starts" from a price, and offers lower prices to some people, then it's okay, but if they "start" from a given price and insist on higher prices from certain people, then this is outrageous, despite being the same behavior.

Re:Interesting dynamic (1)

bloodhawk (813939) | about 2 years ago | (#41763121)

The Australian situation is slightly different. Prices have always been high here, There is definitely some justification for that in the past given shipping costs, higher wages and low currency conversion rate. However over the past few years this has changed significantly and some sectors like the tech sectors are using this as an opportunity to cream extra margins at the expense of the consumer, effectively prices have increased relative to the rest of the world here by something in the order of 25-50% over the past few years, add in the fact most of these companies use off shore distributers to avoid our high tax rates here and you get the situation where the consumer and the country as a whole are actually being drained by large foreign companies. Sadly most of our local companies use the foreign companies as examples of how to do business and put the boot in too, even to the extent where you have some of the big retailers here lobbying the government to block people from being able to buy internationally over the internet by charging higher taxes on imports.

Re:Interesting dynamic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41763245)

The problem here is actually 2 fold. companies are setting very high prices and consumers are rightfully saying ouch that is to much, so they try and work within the system the way this supposed market based system is meant to work and go to shop elsewhere only to find that the companies trying to charge them high prices have gone out of their way to BLOCK the alternatives through license agreements and GEO blocking. To me that borders on price fixing which is against the law in Australia and many other countries as they are intentionally trying to block market competition. your other half of the argument doesn't really wash either as people getting low prices aren't being blocked from going to shop elsewhere at higher prices, if they were then I would find that just as outrageous, setting your price is ne thing, blocking alternatives so that a consumer must buy from you in the regional price is just plain wrong.

Re:Interesting dynamic (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41763421)

If we are comparing prices for digital goods, for which it is a fair assumption that the cost of production is the same the world over, then from the point of view of the consumer the one-true-and-just-price is the lowest the vendor is willing to set. Anything higher than that is extra margin for the vendor, and consumers in those markets can justifiably feel exploited. Selling below the cost of production in an overseas market is illegal "dumping" if memory serves me right.

Simple, if ethically challenged solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41762967)

If foreign companies are going to continue to steal from me, you can guess the rest.

My choices..

I can wait until the Australian networks play my favourite programs. To be advised when.
I can wait until the local distributers sell the DVD sets.
I can set up a VPN and parcel-forwarding from the USA.
I can get them for free within 24 hrs of US screening via bittorrent. Legally difficult. But fast.

Here's a funny one. If I go to Bali and buy a pirate DVD and bring it home, that's legal. Or 100 different pirate DVDs. Legal.
Bali return airfares from here cost about A$350 return on special. Option 4 wins.

Now UK officials recommend obscuring other persona (1)

biodata (1981610) | about 2 years ago | (#41763507)

It seems like there is some international consensus emerging that it is a bad idea to tell the internet your presonal details http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-20082493 [bbc.co.uk]
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