Boot­leg­gers protest for right to sell DVDs

The Myanmar Times - - News - SHOON NAING news­room@mm­

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

Photo: Nyan Zay Htet

Street­side ped­dlers of for­eign boot­legged DVDs stage a protest yes­ter­day at Bo Sein Hman field fol­low­ing a crack­down an­nounce­ment.

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