Pirated Movie Crackdown

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Pirated. Bootlegs. Unauthorized versions. There are more than a few names for illegal copies of movies these days. And with the insane price of new DVDs in the Kingdom, it’s no wonder the pirated movie industry is thriving.

I found it slightly ironic when the king’s bright yellow anti-piracy posters began cropping up all over Amman last fall. After all, you could still walk down to Shmesani and purchase any number of pirated movies directly off the street. At the time, it looked like the government was putting up an honorable public front and yet turning a blind eye to the real problem. Lately, however, it seems that the authorities are cracking down on illegal movie sales.

A friend of mine visited her local “movie dealer” the other day only to find that their stock of bootleg movies had been confiscated by the authorities. Many “movie dealers” have been relegated to under-the-table sales. But considering the average cost of a new DVD is around 20JD (over $28), it’s no wonder that most people are willing to purchase a lower quality version for 1JD.

Compare the cost of a DVD in Jordan to the average cost of a new DVD in the United States: about $15. Even specialized titles such as director’s cuts or extended versions rarely cost more than $20. And if you don’t mind waiting for a couple months after the DVD is released, you might be able to get the movie for around $10 or find it in Wal-Mart’s “bargain bin” for as low as $5.

I believe that the high cost is only part—although a large part—of the problem. Movie availability and late release dates are other contributors. When a movie doesn’t show up in theaters for months after it debuts in other countries—if at all—people will find alternative ways of viewing the film.

I personally don’t care for the low quality screeners and camera versions of pirated movies. I hate watching a movie where the sound is extremely poor, where people stand up in front of the camera in the middle of a movie to use the bathroom, or where the studio screener disclaimer is scrolling across the bottom. I go to great lengths to purchase legitimate versions of movies. Most of the time, that requires that I purchase cheaper versions from the United States and have them mailed over. Most people don’t have this capability, however, and so are left with the option of low cost, low quality, pirated versions as opposed to over-inflated official movies.

If the government wants to cut down on movie piracy, they’re going to have to pressure movie theaters into releasing a wider variety of films on time, as well as convince retailers to reduce the pricing of legitimate DVDs. That’s easier said than done, of course, as there are many middle factors that need to be considered. My point is, the government is going to have to do more than randomly confiscate some movies from local vendors in order to take care of the problem of movie piracy.


Blogger Abed. Hamdan said...

I don't even purchase copied DVDs, I rent them and they are of high quality. Here's the trick, I know two movie stores (that sell copied DVDs) in Irbid, all you have to do is to wait couple of months after the movie's released then you will get the a copy of the original DVD. Just don't rush and purchase the after if it's still in theaters, wait for couple of months and then you can get a copy of the original. Rarely you can get a copy of the original DVD right after its release in theatres

11/10/2006 12:25 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

Abed, you are correct. Most DVD rips are of higher quality, but one must wait until the DVD is released elsewhere (usually in the States).

Obviously this saves having to watch a reduced quality version, but it doesn't solve the issue of pirated media.

11/10/2006 12:51 PM  
Anonymous bakkouz said...

But Dave, even if the prices of the original DVD's drop down to $15, this is still not enough, you have to consider the income rate for the average person in Jordan compared to the states, consider how much does an average Jordanian gets paid a month as opposed to an american, for a Jordanian $15 is big bucks, its a considerable amount of money.

and even for people who get paid more and have a fairly good salary, there would still be a problem, since some of them like myself are movie addicts, and seeing as how there is an insane number of movies that come out every year, for movie collector such as me, this presents a big dilemma If i had to buy each DVD for $15 each, I'd have to be a real millionair here in Jordan, or I would have to spend my entire income on DVD's (Which i really wouldn't mind if there was a way not to starve :P )

So Anyways, I don't think this crackdown will happen on large nation-wide scale, there was a similar crackdown years ago on pirated and illegal software CD's but you can still find them everywhere, it will be the same for movies, it'll never happen, The Jordanian market is poor, very poor, and if they would really enforce this copyright policy the Movie market would seriously collapse and this would hurt lots of people, including people with some influence, and that's something the government won't do.

11/10/2006 1:12 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

Bakkouz, you make some very good points. DVD pricing would have to be set to match the average income of most citizens, which would be extremely low indeed.

I personally am hoping that a reasonable online solution presents itself soon. I would love to be able to purchase movies in digital format online, priced accordingly based on desired quality. I believe that iTunes selling movies is a step in the right direction, but the pricing is prohibitive at this point.

11/10/2006 1:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Same argument goes for PC softwares.

Anyways, I don't see how the DVD industry gonna match the JD1 price tage? (Actually some get it for JD0.75, in Shmeisani they sell it for for JD1.5)

Many DVD rental shops are closing down, because they have to offer original DVDs and that costs them a lot. Anyways, most people prefer to rent a DVD and not to buy it unless it worth it. A new service in town like NETFLIX http://www.netflix.com would help.

Anyone interested? I got for now JD7 and I could talk my little cousin to break her piggy bank, that's another JD3, we could always brainstorm some nice rental-by-mail scams over a Scotch.

11/10/2006 10:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

someone once posted a message basically saying if Americans can butcher tens of thousands of Iraqis and pay Israelis to butcher Lebanese and Arabs, it does not reason for America to lecture on trivial matters such as piracy of films. It takes a 1 dollar bullet to end the life of an Arab. It costs 1 JD to get a pirated DVD of an american movie. sounds like an obscene trade off.

11/11/2006 12:45 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

Anonymous, don't turn this into a political tirade. Jeez. I seriously don't see how a simple post on the Jordanian government cracking down on DVD piracy can be skewed by generalizations and turned into a justification for ripping off a worldwide motion picture industry.

11/11/2006 7:27 AM  
Anonymous salam said...

In fact,I am buying the copied cds with little worry about the ethics of it since for One JD they are quite clear and very new..I would never be able to buy the originals this cheap and this soon anyways..The copies are clear enough and cheaper than renting..i can let u know my source if you want:)

11/11/2006 10:28 AM  
Blogger Jad said...

I myself a ABC series addicted but I don't care if they cracked down all pirated DVDs shops what I care about to have reliable ADSL connection so I can download new episodes.

Another good alternative to pirate movies is to get 1500+ channel kind of satellites and watch channels that pirate films from other networks like what TV 14v.

I don't see any ethical problem in pirating any Film, Software or anything that wasn't priced for us, I wont feel any bad if I pirate any Microsoft product as individual who need it but cannot afford it even if I'm getting paid well.

The problem with Globalization is that a third-world citizen are exposed to almost everything First-world countries exposed to but without being able to afford it and they still need to feed this need so I find it ethically fine.

11/11/2006 11:32 PM  
Blogger No_Angel said...

I agree about the irrelevance of the crack down (i been leeching of the internet ever since napster was a baby and we had a T3 back-backbone connection from college )

on the other hand the jordanian market will never cater to my taste even if I wanted to buy the originals, neither did the american market (physical)
I could never find the niche weird (sometimes banned) films that i like :P

tell me when is the market gonna have metropolis (i honestly know of only one copy in a rental shop in all of jordan)

11/12/2006 1:58 PM  

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