Bootleggers protest for right to sell DVDs
ABOUT 50 foreign DVD bootleggers gathered in Bahan township’s Bo Sein Hman field yesterday for a protest against a crackdown on their illegal business.
The vendors opposed the recent government announcement that rules and regulations about distributing DVDs in Myanmar will be enforced. DVDs without censor stickers on them may not be sold or distributed. Those who do can be imprisoned for three years and face a K100,000 fine under the existing law.
At the end of September, the Ministry of Home Affairs began cracking down on shops selling unlicensed and uncensored DVDs, prohibiting not only the bootleg sale of local productions but also foreign DVDs – typically Korean television series or English-language movies – which have been on the market illegally for more than 10 years. The crackdown has forced many shops to close.
Both shop owners and their patrons have balked, pointing to the fact that there are currently no legal distributors of foreign DVDs in Myanmar.
“We are doing this business because of our country’s poor economy,” said Ko Tun Lin Aung, a DVD bootlegger from South Dagon township. “We do not have a lot of money to invest in our business. This business can be done with a small amount of money.”
He also said that most of the DVD bootleggers do not sell any Myanmar DVDs. They only sell foreign DVDs and they just want the law to be loosened up so they can continue their business legally.
The protesters claimed, with little proof, that a company owned by film stars and movie producers is planning to buy copyrights on foreign DVDs and sell them in Myanmar at a higher price than is currently being offered by bootleggers.
“We heard that a company owned by the producers and celebrities will sell the DVDs for K1000 per DVD while we sell our foreign DVDs for K300 to K500,” said a protester. “We think that they are trying to have the market all for themselves.”
The protest lasted no more than half an hour. Protesters were holding vinyl signs reading, “Please think of the poor people who sell foreign DVDs to survive.”
‘Please think of the poor people who sell foreign DVDs to survive.’
Bootleg DVD vendors’ signs
Streetside peddlers of foreign bootlegged DVDs stage a protest yesterday at Bo Sein Hman field following a crackdown announcement.