Monday, May 24, 2010

dirty dvds

There was a full page advertisement in the newspapers the other day warning the public that the police were set to clampdown HARD on pirated DVDs. This includes the street peddlers as well as anyone purchasing or owning one.

We all know that in this country, everybody has bought at least one pirated DVD in their life. It is such a big part of our pasar malam and our way of life, that it seems we cannot live without it. I think, this is one crime that most Malaysians don't even consider a crime in the first place.

I stopped buying pirated DVDs about 3 years ago. The last pirated DVD I bought was a box set of the complete series of Friends. My friends (and most people in fact) think I am an idiot because after I bought that set, I got into a realisation that one day, maybe I would invent an awesome product and some asshole would just copy it and rip me off the royalties that I was supposed to earn from that.

If there is one thing I really believe in is that one day Karma will always bite you in the ass. And I didn't want that to happen, so for some really messed up moral issue, I started to buy my DVDs at Speedy video or VideoEzy. I never downloaded movies. I do download on-going TV series, but that's only because you can't watch the latest episodes even if you were prepared to pay for it. Besides, the only TV series I follow these days is House and I checked, you can actually pay to download the latest episode on their website for about USD2, but it is only for US viewers.

And it turns out, it's not that bad. I watch most of the new movies in the cinema anyway. If I liked a movie I watched and think it's worth a second viewing, I'll probably buy the DVD. If someone raves on and on about a certain movie which I missed in the cinemas, then I will buy the DVD.

Most people justify their support of pirated stuff with, "buying original is so expensive-lah."

So what?

Watching movies is a luxury. It is not a necessity. If you couldn't afford to buy bread then perhaps, yes, you are left with no other option than to steal. Not legally correct, but morally understandable. So if you can't afford to buy an original DVD, then don't bloody watch it! I mean, I would love to drive a Lamborghini, but I can't afford it - that doesn't entitle me to steal it!

And yes, my friends would mock me for my somewhat skewed moral compass because I always felt that educational stuff was exempt from that rule. For instance, if you needed an engineering software such as AutoCAD, I always felt that okay, as a home user or a student, you perhaps could use a pirated version. But if you were running a business and profiting out of that software, then you should bloody hell buy an original license.

Hypocritical? Yes, but I never declared myself a saint.

So in the past, I've always touched on the ethical issue of not giving proper credit (by paying them!) to the people who created the movie or sang the song. But hey, a lot of people have very questionable ethics anyway, and that has never stopped anybody from doing anything that suited their fancy...

But today, I shall say this to guilt you, because it just crossed my mind recently.

If you spare one second to think about it, we all know that the pirated DVDs come from either China, Thailand or are manufactured locally. Have you sat down and thought about how these DVDs are brought into the country and how many palms are greased in the process?

From your RM6 DVD, how much money is spent so that the law enforcement officers 'look the other way' when the product comes into the country? If the DVDs are manufactured locally, how much do you think if spent paying someone off to conceal their illegal manufacturing? How much is spent to ensure that the pesky Ahbengs carrying around their basket of DVDs in mamak stalls aren't picked up? And how come every Malaysian knows where to go if they want to buy pirated DVDs, but our enforcement officers don't know where to go to shutdown those stalls?

There are hundreds of stalls in shopping malls, permanent fixtures in shoplots - what has been stopping the enforcement agencies from clamping down on them? If you don't know the answer to that question, you are clearly not Malaysian.

And if you think about it, it's no easy feat running such a large scale operation. Who are the people behind this lucrative business? Certainly it won't surprise anybody if it turns out that those are the same people running the illegal money lending business and smuggling women into the country to work as prostitutes. Would it surprise anybody if there was an organised crime Godfather behind all this?

My point here is simple. If you have ever complained about how this country is plague by corruption, if you have ever moaned about the seemingly high crime rates in this country, then don't buy any more pirated DVDs.

Stop contributing to this industry.

Stop throwing your blood money around.


michaelooi said...

It's not really about the money dude. The originals suck because of the stupid censorship. I download my movies without qualms.

lishun said...

what a way to extrapolate things. i'm not sure if using the corruption card will get people to stop buying pirated goods.

i have a few friends who do not download movies or music not because they think it's a form of robbery, but because they think it's only right for a true fan to support the people who provide them with entertainment.

maybe that would be a more effective way to convince people to buy original. unfortunately i don't think there are that many people out there who take entertainment seriously.

vincent said...


Agreed, with regards to censorship at the cinemas - extremely inconsistent. We see them cut simple kiss scenes, but I have also seen full-frontal nudity in Babel (with the crazy Japanese girl's hairy bush included).

That said, the original DVDs imported have no such problem. My brother-in-law has the box set of The Sopranos and every fuck scene and every violent scene is shown.

And just the other day, I bought The Reader DVD because someone told me it was really good. Only RM29.99 and let me tell you, I thought the first 40 mins of that movie had more sex scenes than a porn movie. Even the boy's schlong was shown in all it's glory.


Yes, that is one common argument. But you have to understand, with ethics, different arguments work on different people. Like you said, a lot of people don't take the entertainment industry seriously. I won't call that 'unfortunate' though.

So I am just trying to present another view which nobody has presented before. And who knows, maybe someone who doesn't take the entertainment industry seriously but takes national issues seriously might actually buy into this.

minishorts said...

i very kaya one. i buy blu-ray now. lalala.