Saturday, August 07, 2010

Piracy crackdown aims to boost Burma’s film and music industries

Recent police crackdowns on pirated copies of Burmese music and films in the cities of Rangoon and Mandalay are expected to provide an economic boost to Burma’s struggling entertainment industry.

A resident in Burma’s capital city, Rangoon, told IMNA today that the streets of Rangoon are currently completely devoid of vendors selling pirated copies of Burmese films or music. The crackdown is reported to have been in effect since May 2010.

“Before, we could find some pirated copies everywhere, although it was illegal to buy them, because the venders bribed the police to [allow them to] sell them , but now they [venders] cannot bribe the police anymore. The police have even give some money to people who informed them about pirated CDs and DVD [being sold],” she said.

This source reported that the crackdown includes only Burmese films productions. Film vendors selling pirated western and Korean films can still be seen on Rangoon’s streets, yelling for customers.

“The police were paid to crack down on pirated copies of Burmese film and music productions. The other films, like Korean movies and western movies, they are not paid [to confiscate] so who cares?” she said.

Representatives from Burma’s entertainment industry complained to The Irrawaddy newspaper on June 29th, 2007, that widespread piracy of Burmese music and film were driving both industries to the brink of collapse; the Burmese government’s periodic attempts to stifle piracy were deemed too weak to be truly effective.

According to a journalist in Rangoon, the orders for this most recent, and more stringent, attempt to quell piracy were issued by the Burmese government after insistant complains from representatives of the country’s film industry.

“The serious crackdown happened when [film] director Maung Myo Min’s group demanded that the government enforce the laws three month ago. After that they [the police] have arrested many vendors in the cities of Rangoon and Mandalay,” he explained.

The police headquarters in Rangoon were not available for comment.

A travel agent in Rangoon informed IMNA that airports have become the sites of police searches for contraband pirated material, and that her agency is now taking care to warn customers of the situation before they attempt to fly out of the country.


A pirated vendor sells entertainment CDs and DVDs on the street of Rangoon

“The airport authorities check everything, and if they see some pirated CDs and DVDs, they will bring travelers to the Special Police. They [the Special Police] will fine them about 10,000 Kyat [US $10] . So to avoid trouble and fines, we recommend our customer buy legitimate one,” she said.

Buying legal DVDs and CDs is an excessive expense for most Rangoon dwellers, IMNA’s first source in Rangoon reports. She claims that legal DVDs and CDs cost around 2,000 kyat [US $2] each, while pirated copies cost as little as 400 kyat [$0.40]. Barring this option, individuals with internet access (including herself, she admits) can always download entertainment for free.

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