Piracy on the streets of Peru

July 26th, 2011

Originally Published in August 2006

This article appeared on BBC News earlier today, about piracy, particularly of DVDs, in Peru.

Purchasing fake copies of branded goods is quite normal here. Sales of copies of video games and DVDs far outstrip sales of originals – to tell the truth, I haven’t actually noticed any originals on sale anywhere, although no, I haven’t looked for them.

For those of you reading in Peru, yes, piracy is commonplace in the US, the UK and the rest of the world too, but it certainly doesn’t go on in plain sight and in front of the police as it does here. For this reason people often download software/DVDs/Music without the ease of purchasing a ready-burnt DVD or CD from a stall.

I don’t see piracy here as being a big deal. In the first world pirate copies are sold by organized criminal gangs with profits being used for things you probably wouldn’t want to hear about. In Peru, people sell pirate copies in order to do things, or as the author of this article says “Shadowy” things, like feeding their kids or paying the rent. What they make in a week, should they fore-go food, clothing and shelter wouldn’t even be enough to buy more that a few original DVDs.

If you take the average movie, it has already made its money back and then some at the box office. Everyone has been paid. The DVD is then mass-produced in the third world for slave-labour wages, the end result costing less than a dollar. It is then sold for an extortionate amount even for the first world, and more so in the UK where you’d pay $23 for a single movie. Maybe if some of that paid for these third world worker’s health care, or even their first world worker’s health care.

It annoys me when these pressure groups made up of rich lawyers with massive budgets, representing rich companies with massive profits such as the International Intellectual Property Alliance, come to countries like Peru whining that piracy, in a country where people can’t afford to pay $23 for a DVD, is cutting into their massive profit margins. Perhaps if firstly they sold the DVDs at a fair price and secondly if their intention wasn’t to suck all the money they possibly can out of the developing world to pay for another two cars and a guy to clean their new swimming pools, the Government here would be more willing to fight piracy.

Also, let’s not forget that a dollar to piracy is not a dollar lost to the movie execs. If there were no piracy, there’d be no-one watching at all. It’s amazing to think these people really believe that the 3rd world’s minimum wage workforce would happily hand over 25% of their household income to see their movies, and that by not doing so they and their children are evil thieves.

To me, buying pirated copies seems to be the morally-correct option. What does everyone else think? Please leave a comment.

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