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Australian Government Releases Report Into IT Price Fixing

samzenpus posted 1 year,22 hours | from the one-price-for-all dept.

Australia 125

elphie007 writes "Fourteen months after the Australian Parliament announced an inquiry into the disparity between IT pricing for Australian consumers, the Committee's final report has been published. The report highlights the importance of IT in Australia, and that Australian consumers are frequently shafted in an uncomfortable manner when it comes to purchasing IT goods and services. With recommendations ranging from the removal of parallel importation restrictions to the possible banning of geo-blocking services, could this mean the end of US bound Adobe shopping trips and the beginning of pricing equality for Australian IT consumers? More reports/analysis is available here and here."

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125 comments

Logistics (1)

jmhobrien (2750125) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44411269)

Those bytes won't ship themselves!

Re:Logistics (4, Informative)

crafty.munchkin (1220528) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44411339)

Amusing, but it is absolutely ridiculous that if you want to buy 3 copies of Adobe Creative Suite in Australia, it's cheaper to fly to the US and buy them there, then fly straight back. And that's just one example, there's even the Steam Ripoffs [steamprices.com] site to show how much we get shafted for games.

Re: Logistics (0)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | 1 year,21 hours | (#44411489)

It isn't that ridiculous. Capitalism is all about maximizing profit. If Australians are willing to pay 50% more for a product that could be had for less elsewhere, companies would be stupid to not charge 50% more. Australians are already used to this pricing mode thanks to idiotic import laws for physical goods, which is why Australians are so outraged that they grumble softly and continue to pay whatever is asked from them.

Companies are smart.

Re: Logistics (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 hours | (#44411673)

It isn't that ridiculous. Capitalism is all about maximizing profit.

No, it is ridiculous and capitalism isn't all about maximizing profits. Capitalism relies heavily on competition, if there is no competition the system breaks down.
In this case competition is hindered by copyright laws, an entity that thinks that they can distribute the software cheaper to Australia (Transport the bits for a cost that is marginal compared to the retail price in other regions.) is not allowed to do so.
This is a prime example of when capitalism isn't allowed to work properly.

Re: Logistics (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 hours | (#44414071)

The copyright laws are part of capitalism. It all is working exactly as the CEOs of the companies want it to. It makes more profit to hire lobbists and lawyers to get unfair copyright laws written than to sell goods to AUS at the same price as anywhere else.

Capitalism IS all about maximizing profit. Companies would lobby for laws to make killing and eating babies legal if they thought there was 10 cents more profit in it. True fact - Nestle actually kills babies to make more profit. Even when the World Health Organization stepped in, and despite a lot of international pressure, Nestle continues to harm children.

Re: Logistics (1)

TheAmazingChestaro (2942643) | 1 year,13 hours | (#44417133)

Idiot.

Re: Logistics (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,7 hours | (#44419705)

Copyright is a legal grant of exclusive monopoly on certain activities and goods, and not a market phenomenon.

Re: Logistics (2)

quantumphaze (1245466) | 1 year,21 hours | (#44411847)

In a the magical free market the profits are meant to be squeezed down by healthy competition. In this case the only competition is importing from the USA, losing all consumer protections granted under Australian laws.

As everyone here knows, there is no such thing as a free market. When there is a distribution network filled with exclusivity contracts that prevents parallel imports and DRM that makes your licensed software deactivate itself when they discover your an Aussie you can't call that a success of capitalism.

And for "willing to pay more". It's not like deciding between a $5 HDMI cable and a $120 one where the consumer made a choice to pay more. There is only one company that makes this particular movie, game or software.
How can one be willing to pay more for a necessity in the case of MS Windows/Office. This makes as much sense as people willing to pay $5 per litre for petrol if the oil companies so wished.

Re: Logistics (1)

mi (197448) | 1 year,21 hours | (#44411903)

In this case the only competition is importing from the USA, losing all consumer protections granted under Australian laws.

Perhaps, it is exactly this "consumer protection", that makes Australian consumers less profitable and/or more dangerous to the foreign software companies? Which reflects in the costs, of course...

I don't know anything about those particular laws, but if there are provisions for multi-year warranties/guarantees, or triple money-back in certain cases, I'd understand the vendor wanting to charge more...

Re: Logistics (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,7 hours | (#44419715)

no multiples of money back, but you have to provide a "reasonable" warranty and can't be intentionally deceiving the consumers etc...

No prices are high due to a lack of competition which exists due to parrallel importing laws (stopping retailers doing it) put in place by governments bought out by foreign companies and distributors, exactly how capitalism works if under regulated...

Re: Logistics (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 hours | (#44411969)

So you want to pay US prices and have the protections of Australianconsumer law?

There is a cost to those protections.

Re: Logistics (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 hours | (#44418611)

Australian consumer law protections are not far removed from US consumer law protections. Your point is moot.

Re: Logistics (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,7 hours | (#44419735)

BULLSHIT, if I buy an electronic product from the Adobe website and it detects I am in Australia it doubles the price, BUT the transaction takes place in the US, they pay no tax here and Australian protection laws (which are very similar to US ones) do not apply to transactions completed online from overseas...

This is why US companies some here and winge that piracy is so damn high here, well too bad guys... :P

Re: Logistics (2)

mjwx (966435) | 1 year,8 hours | (#44419573)

It isn't that ridiculous. Capitalism is all about maximizing profit.

This part is correct.

I'll fix the rest for you.

If Australians can be forced to pay 50% more for a product that cant be purchased from anywhere but the supplier and their chosen distributor

Thanks to US copyright treaties, we dont get a choice about software. We aren't willing to pay extra, we're forced to by the fact we have no alternative.

But as predicted, this inquest was as powerful as a fart in a cyclone. Their recommendation was for businesses to attempt to circumvent GeoIP blocks, what business has time or the knoweledge to do that. Microsofts, Adobes, et al distribution channels are still protected and their prices are unaffected.

Australians are already used to this pricing mode thanks to idiotic import laws for physical goods

What import laws do you speak of.

We have some of the most lopsided free trade agreements in the world. We can import almost anything from the US, China or Thailand without duties with a few big exceptions like Alcohol and Tobacco. Hell, for personal imports under A$900, we dont even have to pay GST (sales tax) on the item. Oh and GST (Goods and Services Tax) is only 10%, so this doesn't account for a 50% price discrepancy.

Kindly learn about Australia, before spouting crap about Australia.

Re:Adobe Logistics (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 hours | (#44411531)

Not any more. AFAIK, Adobe's going all "online". With no physical media. there will be nothing to purchase in the states to bring back. Now, if the insane pricing of Adobe continues even online, then I guess you could fly to the states with your laptop and install in the states and then fly back to Oz. But as far as I know, Adobe seems intent on becoming an equal opportunity rent collector and ripping EVERYBODY off with their stupendously stupid monthly rent collection scheme. (At $50 a month for the Adobe suite, it will cost us as a family $150 a month, so we're looking at "alternatives"...)

Re:Adobe Logistics (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 hours | (#44411585)

Back in my day, if you didn't want to pirate Adobe software, you would just install gimp.

Re:Adobe Logistics (1)

smash (1351) | 1 year,19 hours | (#44412611)

Because GIMP does PDF editing...

Re:Adobe Logistics (1)

Darktan (817653) | 1 year,19 hours | (#44413125)

No, but Inkscape does. Honestly, if your requirement for software is that you never have to learn anything new, you're stuck paying whatever Adobe wants to charge, forever.

Re:Adobe Logistics (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 hours | (#44418083)

And neither works as well as CS.

Re:Logistics (1)

smash (1351) | 1 year,19 hours | (#44412597)

And for those in the US who think "so what", have a look at our fucking airfare prices.

Re:Logistics (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 hours | (#44411457)

Same thing with region-based DVDs and Blu-rays. Through the wonders of modern technology, the idea of "location" and "region" are mostly obsolete, at least as far as shipping and logistics is concerned -- especially for goods that are mostly information instead of physical things. But for all of the profit opportunities that this affords the powers-that-be, by its very nature this brave new logistics world also obsoletes certain profit centers that used to exist in the old system.

So what do they do? Best of both! "You know, it no longer costs us more to actually get the things to you, which means that all of that extra money we charge the Aussies, which used to go to shipping and distribution costs, is pure profit for us!"

Classical economics would say "the market will solve."

Why hasn't it? (This is an honest question.)

Re:Logistics (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 hours | (#44411683)

DVD and Blu-Ray regions are not about shipping and logistics. It's about protecting box office sales from people just importing a release before it makes it to theaters in that region.

Re:Logistics (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 hours | (#44411999)

In the English-speaking world, perhaps so. The rest of us have to wait for a company to subtitle the film/TV series before they reach us. Of course, given sufficient skill in the language, I could order an untranslated version online, but I much prefer reading subtitles to having the audio at a loud volume just to hear the dialogue well enough. (I can't watch an untranslated version with many friends either...)

Re:Logistics (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,19 hours | (#44412867)

I think the same argument still applies, perhaps I just didn't paint a broad enough picture.

It used to be very difficult to get the reels for a new movie from Hollywood to, say, India. Now it isn't. But they still want to pretend like it is, presumably for profit. They want the benefits of the a modern distribution system (i.e. it's really easy for them to move information around), but none of the "problems" (i.e. it's really easy for their customers to move information around).

I guess I don't blame them, after all money is money, and that's what they exist for. The question is, why are we letting them do this? And can the problem be solved by the market, or will it take government intervention?

Re:Logistics (2)

sjames (1099) | 1 year,17 hours | (#44414201)

of course, they could just take advantage of that same simplified shipping and logistics to open the film at the same time everywhere. It's not like the old days when they had to actually make a new (expensive) print and ship it (bulky and heavy too).

Re:Logistics (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 hours | (#44411803)

Classical economics would say "the market will solve."

Why hasn't it? (This is an honest question.)

Classical economics relies heavily on competition. Without competition there is no market forces that solves anything and there isn't even a theoretical benevolent entity that enforces fair prices so when you remove competition the free market system works even worse than planned in both theory and practice.

In this case copyright and patents are used to remove the competition from the market. Copyright makes sure that no-one competes with the distribution and patents makes sure than no-one creates an equivalent product.
So to answer your question: The market haven't solved to problem because the market isn't free to do so in this case.
Free market theory only applies to products that aren't regulated and where a monopoly/oligopoly isn't in place.
If there only are 10 companies competing then chances are that they avoid competing with each other on a "don't rock the boat" basis.
It only works for things like screws or bolts where you can find hundreds of competing companies in every nation.

Re:Logistics (4, Informative)

Arker (91948) | 1 year,20 hours | (#44412027)

Why has the market not solved it?

Because there is no free market at work here. "Intellectual property law" prevents it.

Re:Logistics (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 hours | (#44413599)

How so? "Intellectual property law" prevents you using Adobe's version.

Are you saying "Intellectual property law" prevents you from copying Adobe's product and that's the one you want to use? Perhaps the higher charges are justfied by "supply and demand"?

Don't want Adobe's product? Don't buy it.

Nothing's stopping you using an alternative piece of software or writing your own, is it?

  "Intellectual property law" has many issues. This isn't one of them.

Re:Logistics (2)

sjames (1099) | 1 year,17 hours | (#44414293)

Because as soon as you try to make a commercial clone of Adobe's product they start suing you for random patents, trademarks, look and feel, etc. even though you clearly wrote it from scratch.

Imagine if only one company was allowed to make a common hand operated can opener and anyone else who wanted to produce a 'metal container opening device' (can't call it a 'can opener' tm, pat. pend.) would have to come up with something that looks like a hack saw or perhaps involves a CO2 laser to get around IP laws.

Re:Logistics (1)

sjames (1099) | 1 year,17 hours | (#44414169)

It's interesting how much the corporate types support region coding schemes until someone wants to region code labor.

The reason the problem isn't solved is because only a healthy market can solve those sorts of problems and we don't have those.

Re:Logistics (1)

Demonantis (1340557) | 1 year,17 hours | (#44414329)

In a free market economics the consumer base as a whole dictates the price. How each customer reaches his or her price is extremely complicated. The margin is set off of this and products that can't produce a margin simply won't exist. The whole situation is a the fault of the Aussies being willing to spend more on software. They should simply stop buying software when they don't like the price. Of course this is assuming a free market.

Re:Logistics (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,7 hours | (#44419757)

Why hasn't it? (This is an honest question.)

It has and they (including US ambassador) complain here about how high piracy rates are in Australia, but no one does much about it.... market solved...

removing parallel-import restrictions is obvious (3, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44411315)

Adding restrictions on imports deliberately removes Australia from global pricing from software and sets it up as a segmented market, so it's not a huge surprise that companies like Adobe then set prices within the segmented market differently, to optimize profits in that market.

You'd probably see it in the U.S., too, if it were possible to have segmented pricing between states: Adobe would charge higher prices in CA and NY.

Re:removing parallel-import restrictions is obviou (2)

Bluemar5 (2528418) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44411357)

Software was removed from parallel importing restrictions in the Copyright Amendment (Parallel Importation) Bill of 2001. It can't be used as an excuse to price gouge..

Re:removing parallel-import restrictions is obviou (1)

intermodal (534361) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44411385)

The addition of restrictions, stipulations, and additional regulations on government acquisitions (especially military) here in the States certainly inflates the price of any military-bound purchases. I don't see why additional restrictions from the Australian government on broader software imports would do anything but increase the end users' prices.

Re:removing parallel-import restrictions is obviou (2)

Shavano (2541114) | 1 year,21 hours | (#44411563)

It is possible. US companies just don't do it that much for SW and computer hardware or other stuff that's easily shipped because the competition won't play ball. But when it comes to haircuts or movie tickets, location has a big effect on price.

Who modded this up? (3, Insightful)

mjwx (966435) | 1 year,7 hours | (#44419609)

Adding restrictions on imports deliberately removes Australia from global pricing from software and sets it up as a segmented market

What restrictions?

Who modded this tripe up.

Australia has no restrictions on importing software. This is why I can buy games in the UK and have them shipped over. This is why dropshippers exist, this is why I bought my camera from Hong Kong and had it shipped to Oz. The laws on restricting imports are only for very specific things like Alcohol, Tobacco and Food (Dutiable goods, prohibited goods and dangerous goods in legalese). Software is not dutiable, prohibited or dangerous, therefore not restricted.

The problem is that the software distributors have segmented Australia. I cant get a copy of Windows from anyone else but Microsoft (Erm, a legit copy). MS chose to charge me 50% more, I didn't force MS to charge me more and we dont have a choice thanks to IP/Copyright laws that were foisted on us by a series of lop sided "free" trade agreements between Australia and the US.

the fuck? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,22 hours | (#44411335)

Why is a government interfering with private entities' ability to price things differently in different countries? Dem socialists all up in Ausland, mate. Remove the shrimp on the barbie and pay attention. Oi ! The communist shark is coming fer reals.

Re:the fuck? (5, Informative)

Joce640k (829181) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44411377)

Why is a government interfering with private entities' ability to price things differently in different countries?

Because dem entities are trying to use the government's laws to sue people over importing the products from other countries where it's cheaper.

Re:the fuck? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 hours | (#44418055)

Why is a government interfering with private entities' ability to price things differently in different countries?

Governments give them a monopoly on their products. They can use it as they want.

the cause (5, Funny)

slashmydots (2189826) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44411379)

It's obvious what the price difference is. It's really expensive for Adobe to have a support call center that's fluent in Australian.

Re:the cause (1)

philmarcracken (1412453) | 1 year,21 hours | (#44411521)

u havin a giggle m8

swear 2 god i will init 0 u m8 i swear on my mums lyfe

Re:the cause (1)

crafty.munchkin (1220528) | 1 year,21 hours | (#44411729)

I tip my hat to you, sir! :)

Re:the cause (3, Funny)

slashmydots (2189826) | 1 year,21 hours | (#44411923)

OMG why is your text right side up? It should be upside down if you're posting it from Australia in the southern hemisphere!

Re:the cause (1)

sjames (1099) | 1 year,17 hours | (#44414327)

It must be a reflection off of water swirling backwards.

Re:the cause (1)

socceroos (1374367) | 1 year,13 hours | (#44417557)

Like this: umop episdn

Re:the cause (2)

smash (1351) | 1 year,19 hours | (#44412635)

We need to speak indian like everyone else...

Gotta love these recommendations (5, Informative)

OzPeter (195038) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44411383)

Take that all you people that think Australia being founded by a bunch of criminals was a bad thing :P

4 Copyright, circumvention, competition, and remedies

Recommendation 4 The Committee recommends that the parallel importation restrictions still found in the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) be lifted, and that the parallel importation defence in the Trade Marks Act 1995 (Cth) be reviewed and xiii broadened to ensure it is effective in allowing the importation of genuine goods.

Recommendation 5 The Committee recommends that the Australian Government amend the Copyright Act’s section 10(1) anti-circumvention provisions to clarify and secure consumers’ rights to circumvent technological protection measures that control geographic market segmentation.

Recommendation 6 The Committee further recommends that the Australian Government investigate options to educate Australian consumers and businesses as to:

  • * the extent to which they may circumvent geoblocking mechanisms in order to access cheaper legitimate goods;
  • * the tools and techniques which they may use to do so; and
  • *the way in which their rights under the Australian Consumer Law may be affected should they choose to do so.

Recommendation 7 The Committee recommends that the Australian Government, in conjunction with relevant agencies, consider the creation of a ‘right of resale’ in relation to digitally distributed content, and clarification of ‘fair use’ rights for consumers, businesses, and educational institutions, including restrictions on vendors’ ability to ‘lock’ digital content into a particular ecosystem.

Recommendation 8 The Committee recommends the repeal of section 51(3) of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.

Recommendation 9 The Committee recommends that the Australian Government consider enacting a ban on geoblocking as an option of last resort, should persistent market failure exist in spite of the changes to the Competition and Consumer Act and the Copyright Act recommended in this report.

Recommendation 10 That the Australian Government investigate the feasibility of amending the Competition and Consumer Act so that contracts or terms of service which seek to enforce geoblocking are considered void.

Re:Gotta love these recommendations (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 hours | (#44411445)

great article
clinique dentaire casablanca [cdh.ma]

Re:Gotta love these recommendations (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 hours | (#44411657)

And now you know why Australians don't give a shit about copyright. We have been shafted for song long in regards to prices that it is our way of saying fuck you!

Re:Gotta love these recommendations (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 hours | (#44412077)

Recommendation 5 The Committee recommends that the Australian Government amend the Copyright Act’s section 10(1) anti-circumvention provisions to clarify and secure consumers’ rights to circumvent technological protection measures that control geographic market segmentation.

Like region coded Blu-Rays & DVDs?

Recommendation 7 The Committee recommends that the Australian Government, in conjunction with relevant agencies, consider the creation of a ‘right of resale’ in relation to digitally distributed content, and clarification of ‘fair use’ rights for consumers, businesses, and educational institutions, including restrictions on vendors’ ability to ‘lock’ digital content into a particular ecosystem.

I'd love to see how will this affect the Xbox/PS4 & Steam.

Recommendation 10 That the Australian Government investigate the feasibility of amending the Competition and Consumer Act so that contracts or terms of service which seek to enforce geoblocking are considered void.

Will media streaming services like Netflix & YouTube be affected by this?

More than just Australia (3, Informative)

CastrTroy (595695) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44411415)

This happens in a lot of places, not just Australia. In Canada, Microsoft often charges more for licenses. However, if you try to order stuff through Amazon.com, they will say that they don't ship the item to Canada. Even though they will ship just about everything else, as long as you pay the shipping charges.

Re:More than just Australia (2)

Sean White (2988829) | 1 year,21 hours | (#44411473)

True, Australia isn't the ONLY place it happens but we DO get ripped off enough that we started a federal level investigation into it. Call me beck when Canada does this

Re:More than just Australia (1)

sjames (1099) | 1 year,17 hours | (#44414341)

Perhaps Canada should into the matter as well.

Steam (5, Interesting)

shione (666388) | 1 year,22 hours | (#44411423)

The banning of geo blocking would be a great step in the right direction. Stop companies from redirecting us to the Australian store when we specifically put in the url for the overseas counterpart for example steam. If I want to buy from steam US without using a vpn (which is against steam policy if I used a vpn) then I should be able to instead of being forced back to the Australian site. Steam saying that I have to buy from the aussie steam store because some games are banned or censored does not hold water when it is only not illegal for an australian to buy rc goods overseas for personal consumption. Prices differences between the US steam store and the Aussie one can be quite drastic too. Outlaw this too.

Call of Duty 2
Aussie steam store: $89.99
US steam store in equivalent aussie dollars $19.99
UK steam store in equivalent aussie dollars $30.72

Civ V
Aussie steam store: $69.99
US steam store in equivalent aussie dollars $29.99
UK steam store in equivalent aussie dollars $30.72

Dishonoured
Aussie steam store: $44.99
US steam store in equivalent aussie dollars $29.99
UK steam store in equivalent aussie dollars $23.04

Dead Island Riptide
Aussie steam store: $69.99
US steam store in equivalent aussie dollars $39.99
UK steam store in equivalent aussie dollars $53.78

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified
Aussie steam store: $71.99
US steam store in equivalent aussie dollars $44.99
UK steam store in equivalent aussie dollars $41.48

Re:Steam (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 hours | (#44411469)

Someone has to pay for the video game lobby so that the government doesn't censor all media in Australia. The logical choice is the Australians who partake in that media.

Costs on steam (1)

Firethorn (177587) | 1 year,20 hours | (#44412289)

Isn't this because of one of the import restrictions essentially placing the final retail price in the hands of some Australian company, and it actually being illegal to sell for less than what they set the price at?

That would explain the ripoff site's [steamprices.com] 'top list' looking to be mostly A rated games that have been price dropped/are on special. Steam is normally pretty agile on pricing.

Re:Costs on steam (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 hours | (#44418277)

This is why they're investigating, they have removed restrictions in parallel importation in 2001 so there should be competition, they are looking to change some more laws to encourage more competition.
Australian prices are not fixed by law, they are recommended prices, you can sell stuff for any price you like, in fact I think it's illegal for companies to set the price, so it's the reverse situation from what you're suggesting.
These companies are very comfortable making a large profit in the Oz market, and then saying that it's the Australian company's fault. They must be telling the Australian branch what to charge and not allowing you to buy from overseas online shops. This just encourages piracy as often you can get games/apps that will happily run anywhere, as opposed to the region locked crap often forced on you.
They need to just piss off and let people buy at a price equivalent to the US price in local money, which ATM is about the same and was actually worth more for ages.
Oz protection laws are not that harsh, they just say that you cannot say no warranty, but the EULA gets them off most stuff anyway so that argument is moot.

Re:Costs on steam (1)

mjwx (966435) | 1 year,7 hours | (#44419639)

Isn't this because of one of the import restrictions essentially placing the final retail price in the hands of some Australian company, and it actually being illegal to sell for less than what they set the price at?

OK, this myth needs to die.

Testing, 1.. 2.. Testing, this is for the record.

AUSTRALIA HAS NO RESTRICTIONS ON IMPORTING SOFTWARE.

Sorry about the shouting, but this message needs to be made clear.

Australian companies don't dictate prices to steam, that directive comes from higher up the chain. Publishers dictate prices to Steam and local distributors. It's the publishers who say Australians aren't permitted to pay the same as Americans or English.

I can import games from the UK, Asia or the US. In fact I regularly do but for businesses who need support and dont have time to wait for games to be shipped from the other side of the world, they are stuck over a barrel (especially if Adobe or Microsoft decide to add GeoIP detection to software activation). Steam isn't the problem, it's the publishers. A lot of Indie games get competitively priced.

dolbl (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 hours | (#44411547)

part of G`NAA i7 future. Even

Or just pirate Adobe (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 hours | (#44411549)

Problem solved! (cracks open a Fosters)

Re:Or just pirate Adobe (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 hours | (#44411647)

Problem solved! (cracks open a Fosters)

Haha, nice try mate, but we Aussies don't actually drink that crap!

Re:Or just pirate Adobe (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 hours | (#44412285)

I do mate.

Re:Or just pirate Adobe (1)

smash (1351) | 1 year,19 hours | (#44412671)

Yeah, its pretty funny how you can tell those who think they know aussies and who have no fucking idea - fosters is one of the big give aways.

Re:Or just pirate Adobe (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 hours | (#44413543)

I drink Fosters and I live in Perth.

Re:Or just pirate Adobe (1)

socceroos (1374367) | 1 year,12 hours | (#44417599)

Well there you go. Western Australia doesn't really consider themselves part of the country anyway.

Re:Or just pirate Adobe (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,18 hours | (#44413621)

Love Fosters, live in Canberra. Just because you don't drink doesn't mean others don't mate.

Re:Or just pirate Adobe (1)

socceroos (1374367) | 1 year,12 hours | (#44417615)

Yes, yes - and I drink Smirnoff double black. The point is it doesn't matter that you do - the vast majority of the Australian working class do not drink Fosters. For example, in Tasmania it's Boag's all the way.

Re:Or just pirate Adobe (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,7 hours | (#44419769)

MMM... Boag's Honey Porter, best beer I managed to find in australia my two weeks there.

Re:Or just pirate Adobe (1)

mjwx (966435) | 1 year,7 hours | (#44419645)

Problem solved! (cracks open a Fosters)

Haha, nice try mate, but we Aussies don't actually drink that crap!

Fosters is only for export.

Nothing is too bad for the rest of the world (chokes down a TED).

It's BS really (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 hours | (#44411591)

Adjust these prices against the average yearly income for the country and prepare to be shocked. Turns out that when you do, the Aussies need to pipe the fuck down about this...

Solution to price gouging by American SW companies (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 hours | (#44411617)

As an Australian citizen, I easily get around the price gouging attempts by American companies like Microsoft, Adobe and Apple.

I do it by running Kubuntu on my laptop and desktop, and Android on my tablet and phone. My every single household IT need is thereby elegantly met for zero cost to me. LibreOffice 4.1 running under Kubuntu is great! Digikam is the bees knees for my digital photos! Krita is the best-of-breed for creating raster graphics art (Inkscape for vector graphics, Blender for 3D graphics). Clementine plays all my music just fine and syncs with my non-Apple media player, tablet and phone, and VLC shows my videos (of any format) with aplomb.

I can buy *ALL* my hardware (phone, tablet, laptop and desktop, the latter two without any OS pre-installed) for less than the blowout cost of one package of commercial software from Microsoft or Adobe.

In other news: Germany invades Poland (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 hours | (#44411895)

Cool story

Re:Solution to price gouging by American SW compan (1)

Sockatume (732728) | 1 year,20 hours | (#44412197)

I'm sure you're very pleased with yourself, but if I'm reading this report right you got ripped off by about 50% on your hardware, and any music or videos you happened to pay actual money for.

Re:Solution to price gouging by American SW compan (0)

smash (1351) | 1 year,19 hours | (#44412687)

Wake me up when libreoffice can actually open and save documents properly. I've been waiting since 1997.

Re:Solution to price gouging by American SW compan (2)

socceroos (1374367) | 1 year,12 hours | (#44417627)

LibreOffice wasn't even a twinkle in a developer's eye in 1997, so I'm not sure what you're going on about.

I happen to use LibreOffice every day at work without issue.

Re:Solution to price gouging by American SW compan (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 hours | (#44418105)

Good try Microsoft shill.

Libreoffice hasn't been around since 1997 and today it is more stable and easier to use than MSOffice and it has MENUS. Hah!

Re:Solution to price gouging by American SW compan (2)

deek (22697) | 1 year,8 hours | (#44419333)

Time to rise, sleepy-head.

I use Libreoffice at work, regularly editing word and excel documents. You had me worried for a sec, thinking all my work over the last few years hadn't been saved properly. I checked, and thankfully, they're all good. Phew!

Thieves (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 hours | (#44411663)

Obviously the companies have to charge more. Australian is just a giant prison colony. The companies have to charge more to cover the losses from theft.

Government can do little here... (1)

metrix007 (200091) | 1 year,20 hours | (#44411971)

A company can sell products at whatever price they want. At the end of the day, stuff costs more in Australia because people were willing to pay more. The companies are not doing anything illegal, they are selling software at the price the market is willing to pay.

Australia is a pretty darn expensive country, so it isn't surprising things started out that way. Are costs ridiculous? Yes. But again, nothing illegal is going on here, so what does the government think it can do, or why do they think they have the right to interfere after investigating and finding nothing illegal going on?

Re:Government can do little here... (1)

Firethorn (177587) | 1 year,20 hours | (#44412395)

A company can sell products at whatever price they want. At the end of the day, stuff costs more in Australia because people were willing to pay more. The companies are not doing anything illegal, they are selling software at the price the market is willing to pay.

Actually, the Australian people's willingness to pay more comes with serious limitations. It appears that the spread of digital distribution and the resulting penetration into far more heads of the idea that *YES* Australian prices are a huge rip off has spurred this investigation.

Australians *might* be willing to pay more, but not that much more, and it's been their very laws that help encourage it.
Ways to help:
1. End protection of importing companies
2. End import tariffs and taxes
3. Especially end their home-brew standards board for things like video games

As I understand it, in order to get software legally into the country and into the distribution system, they essentially have to sign an exclusive contract with an importing company - so while a company might deal with several distributors(steam for online, one for supplying walmart, kmart, and the ilk, another for gamestop type stores, etc...), to get into Australia they have to agree that X has the sole pricing power for stuff in the country - and the contract states that Steam can't sell it for less.

Re:Government can do little here... (1)

metrix007 (200091) | 1 year,20 hours | (#44412541)

For what it's worth, I am Australian.

Merchandise in Australia is significantly more expensive than it is in many other countries, namely the US and Canada. Part of this is because of the low unemployment, better median salary

  • Consumer Prices in United States are 33.76% lower than in Australia
  • Consumer Prices Including Rent in United States are 36.51% lower than in Australia
  • Rent Prices in United States are 42.13% lower than in Australia
  • Restaurant Prices in United States are 34.18% lower than in Australia
  • Groceries Prices in United States are 28.26% lower than in Australia

Many companies have Australian branches, so importing isn't really the issue. It's simply the price the market is willing to pay. There is an IBM office in downtown Brisbane, one of the larger buildings. Are you really saying IBM software is more expensive in Aus because it has to be imported? When I could buy a copy online and have it shipped for cheaper?

Re:Government can do little here... (1)

Firethorn (177587) | 1 year,19 hours | (#44413171)

It's simply the price the market is willing to pay.

Economics fail. You only get 'price the market is willing to pay' with monopolies. Which even with copyright isn't the case in the USA. In general, at least. It's complicated.

Not when they're flying to the USA to pick up Adobe products and doing things like renting VPNs to pay US prices. Sure, the USA is about a third cheaper. On the other hand, software in Australia seems to run 100% more expensive.

Are you really saying IBM software is more expensive in Aus because it has to be imported? When I could buy a copy online and have it shipped for cheaper?

I think you didn't get what I was trying to say. I was trying to say that software tends to be more expensive in your country because of import restrictions. It's the way that the laws are set up that's the problem. You take imported software and slap VAT on it, import duties, and force an exclusive contract with a AU company that's willing to charge what the market will bear and it sucks.

Importing the software for your own individual use, without paying the VAT and such is probably a violation somewhere, but a bit like speeding - you're unlikely to be caught unless you're egregious or excessive about it.

Re:Government can do little here... (1)

metrix007 (200091) | 1 year,17 hours | (#44414901)

Economics fail. You only get 'price the market is willing to pay' with monopolies.

What in the world are you basing that on? It's a basic tenant of economics. You have something to sell, people will either pay the price or consider it too expensive and go without/find an alternative.

Monopolies are only different because generally there is no choice but to pay the price.

I think you didn't get what I was trying to say. I was trying to say that software tends to be more expensive in your country because of import restrictions.

No, I got what you were saying, I just don't see it as relevant. IBM Australia doesn't need to import software from IBM USA, they can share the code and the development process. No importing needs to take place.

If you think this to be incorrect, what laws are you citing that would show me to be wrong? I'm genuinely curious.

Re:Government can do little here... (1)

Firethorn (177587) | 1 year,16 hours | (#44415591)

What in the world are you basing that on? It's a basic tenant of economics. You have something to sell, people will either pay the price or consider it too expensive and go without/find an alternative.

It's the 'find an alternative' part. If you're charging as much as you can and you're sufficiently over your costs a competitor will enter the market and undercut you.

A monopoly changes the equation because 'find an alternate' isn't an option.

As for IBM Australia, how many individual customers do they have today? IBM Australia is going to be selling software/services to businesses, not individuals, and the market there can be quite complicated.

I'm thinking about companies like Microsoft, Blizzard, Square, EA, etc...

Re:Government can do little here... (1)

metrix007 (200091) | 1 year,8 hours | (#44419513)

The thing is, the alternatives are not good enough, so they pay the price. If they didn't want to pay the price, they would settle for an inferior product and pay less. It's pretty simple.

IBM was just an example....there's a Microsoft Australia, a Blizzard Australia etc as well.

Re:Government can do little here... (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | 1 year,18 hours | (#44413289)

Consumer Prices in United States are 33.76% lower than in Australia
Consumer Prices Including Rent in United States are 36.51% lower than in Australia
Rent Prices in United States are 42.13% lower than in Australia
Restaurant Prices in United States are 34.18% lower than in Australia
Groceries Prices in United States are 28.26% lower than in Australia

How did the prices get compared? In Australia, your taxes are built in, so when it sells for $60, you pay the store $60. In the US, when you pay $40, you play tax on top of that (ditto Canada) - which for US and Canada can be anywhere from 5-15%.

The other thing is consumer law. In Australia, you have something like a minimum warranty of 2 years on durable goods, while in US and Canada it's 90 days or so, maybe the manufacturer offers 1 year. When you consider Best Buy and the like will happily sell you an extended warranty for 2 years for 15% of the cost, that too narrows the margin even more. The rest just comes to the cost of doing business.

And yes, anyone who thinks the EU and Australia consumer protection laws are free is free to get the extended warranty when offered. They'll be slightly cheaper in the EU and the like because everyone is forced to get them, so instead of say 20% of shoppers opting for it in the US and Canada, they have 100% of shoppers doing the same thing, so they can charge a little less and make it up on volume.

The other thing is well, Australia is out of the way - getting product there usually means an extra shipping stop through Asia (China/Singapore) in order to have sufficient volume.

For digital goods, all Australia has to do is simply disallow exclusive distributorship as had been the case before - you no longer need to go through an Australian company to sell to Australians. (Of course, you lose out on Australian protections and taxes, but such is how the cookie crumbles).

Re:Government can do little here... (1)

metrix007 (200091) | 1 year,16 hours | (#44414987)

Sorry, I should have left a source - http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/compare_countries_result.jsp?country1=Australia&country2=United+States [numbeo.com]

A lot of the time in the US the tax is included in the final price, especially at the big franchise like best buy or walmart. It's not enough of a factor to alter the point.

Consumer protection in the US varies by state I believe, and I don't think it would be 90 days. My friend just bought a $300 TV and got a 5 year warranty for $75...but that was unnecessary. It comes with a 1 year warranty, possibly as a requirement.

I don't think the shipping is that much of a cost increase, given how little shipping impacts the price when buying from Amazon or the like.

Anyway, my point was mainly that the cost increase in Australia isn't illegal, and that I don't know that the government should get involved.

Re:Government can do little here... (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,20 hours | (#44412397)

A sovereign government has the right to set whatever terms and conditions it chooses on any company that wants to operate in that country. It can change the law to make behaviour that is currently legal, illegal.

If (for example) Australia wants to stipulate that no software must be sold at more than 10% over the US price (once taxes are accounted for), it is perfectly entitled to do so. The company in question then has the option to sell in Australia or not sell in Australia.

You seem to be implying that Sovereign governments should have no such rights - I.e. that companies should effectively make their own laws and ignore those that are inconvenient (the fact that this does happen sometimes does not make it right).

Re:Government can do little here... (1)

metrix007 (200091) | 1 year,20 hours | (#44412551)

Well, that would be funny to see that implemented. It would go to court, and such legislation would probably be dismissed.

Re:Government can do little here... (2)

smash (1351) | 1 year,19 hours | (#44412703)

Piracy says no we aren't willing... government can do whatever the fuck they like within our local market.

Re:Government can do little here... (1)

metrix007 (200091) | 1 year,16 hours | (#44414999)

By that logic no one is willing to pay for anything. Which obviously isn't true.

Re: Government can do little here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 hours | (#44415493)

He's saying that Australia's high and rising pirating statistics aren't the result of the people being convicts, but rather price discrimination. You can't put pressure on a country to enforce their copyright laws while simultaneously raise prices and take away alternatives. Piracy is only going to grow in Australia, and the government is going to keep turning a blind eye.

Re:Government can do little here... (1)

rtb61 (674572) | 1 year,19 hours | (#44412809)

No the are criminally exploiting government enforced monopolies which were meant to be for the benefit of the sciences and the arts, not to inflate profits. So it is a blatant abuse of the law, enforced against the interests of the public, laws basically brought into being as a result of corruption. Not just one thing being illegal but a series of things being illegal as they are criminal anti-competitive practices, abuse of free trade principles and do exclude the majority from equal access to trade opportunities through corrupt practices. All of these are actionable by the ACCC should sufficient complaints be brought.

Re: Government can do little here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 hours | (#44415201)

They weren't investigating whether anything illegal was going on, read the fucking enquiry. This is about price discrimination due to a copyright protected lack of competition. With DRM and geo-blocking, these corporations are segmenting the "free market" for the sake of profit, at the expense of Australians. This is a relatively new practice because of a changing market structure. A changing market calls for a change in legislation. That's the job of any government.

Dozy fuck.

Note to geeks: (2)

Type44Q (1233630) | 1 year,20 hours | (#44412347)

are frequently shafted in an uncomfortable manner

A little foreplay goes a long way... ;)

Re:Note to geeks: (1)

socceroos (1374367) | 1 year,12 hours | (#44417671)

I find it disgusting that you've had that conversation with your mother!

.....because everyone knows that no one on /. has a girlfriend! *ba-dum tsch*

I'm here until Thursday. Be sure to try the parma with chips.

Two words ... "Import Tariffs" (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 hours | (#44414345)

So what many people overlook when they complain about prices in Australia is that, unlike the US which sold it's soul to the metaphorical devil many years ago by giving in to "free" trade Australia did not. In the US products are much cheaper because the trade agreement that were created allowed manufacturers to build goods outside and import them into the country with little to nothing in terms of import tariffs being imposed on the inbound product to be sold to it's citizens. Australia still levies heavy import tariffs on goods being imported into the country from slave labor states like china/hong kong/mexico/etc in order to allow locally sourced goods to compete with stuff manufactured by people who don't have to be paid a reasonable living wage. Had the US done this same thing and forgone "free trade" our economy would not be wrapped around our ankles right now.

Re:Two words ... "Import Tariffs" (1)

BatGnat (1568391) | 1 year,15 hours | (#44416179)

Show me the import tariffs on buying digital media online?
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