Bootleg Hypocrisy

2009.06.14

Sundays are my relax days, as I’ve mentioned before, when I sleep late, read and catch up on any TV shows that I can find on DVD here.

Since I’ve been in Iraq, I’ve re-watched a couple of seasons of House, all the seasons of Arrested Development, Rome, a few seasons of the BBC hit Father Ted, all of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, season one through four of my new favorite program Weeds, and I just started the Buffy spin off Angel.

I know that seems like a lot TV but what can I say,  I have a hard time getting to sleep at night. Besides, it’s a great way to pass time and escape the misery of being so far away from home.

Had I not been here, I probably wouldn’t have watched all of these programs. I’m generally not a big TV viewer, and I don’t want to pay the mega-mart prices to buy all of those shows on DVD. However, that all changed for me here in Iraq. All of the programs I watched where bootlegs that I picked up for next to nothing at the jingly shop.

It is a bit ironical that here we are so far from home “bringing Democracy to this land and protecting our way of life,” when our way of life is driven by private property and, more specifically, copyrights so copyright owners can cash in multiple times for one completed job. It’s not like the artists – the people doing the work – own these copyrights.

Too bad our way of life wasn’t more like the Grateful Dead’s approach to their music. They encouraged bootlegging at their concerts because they relied on touring for their money more than record deals, or at least that is the story that I’ve heard before. Maybe I was intoxicated.  Anyway, their recorded music became more like a marketing tool that they didn’t have to pay for.  The more people recorded their work, the more other people were turned on to their sound, and the greater their fan base grew to attend future concerts. They toured for decades. Then again, what do a bunch of peace loving stoners know.

Back in Iraq, you don’t have to go far to pick up bootleg movies or software. Across the street from where I work there is a movie theater that always plays the anti-piracy ad during trailers says “downloading is stealing,” and just beyond that there is an area full of local vendors who sell these same pirated movies. You can find shops like this on every base in theater. The biggest threat is that you might get a copy that has the occasional silhouette crossing the film, or “next on Showtime” teaser crossing the screen.

In Iraq, the U.S. Government tolerates this abuse of the lifestyle that it has swore to uphold. It’s so accepted that U.S. Customs here has a policy that you are only allowed to take one copy of each movie home with you when you redeploy, as if that made it “right.” It’s like the marijuana policy in some states. It may be illegal, but it is only enforceable if you have more than a certain designated quantity.

As for me, I don’t hold any copyrights on movies, music or software and because I like cheap DVDs, I guess I don’t really care. This is a situation where I appreciate my government’s actions.  Besides, corporations screw people all the time. Why should I care when they get a taste of their own medicine.

Anyway, it is interesting to see the hypocrisy in action.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Bootleg Hypocrisy

  1. Hey… did you see that settlement in favor of the RIAA for $80K per song in a downloading case. It is so outrageous that I think courts and public opinion will begin to see the industry protectors for what they are … I know the industry has been pressing other countries for help in going after their citizens who may be pirating songs etc, but if I were some government functionary responsible for helping them sue my fellow citizens I would think twice about importing that kind of abuse into my country. But then the lack of bandwidth in my country prevents even downloading a single song anyway, so I am not at too much risk either way here.

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