This blog is not intended to provide legal advice, legal services or legal anything else. Don't sue me. All I have is debt anyway.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Pirates! Arrrrrrrrrrrrr!

I'm not exactly a hardcore advocate of intellectual property rights. For instance, I think it's pretty lame that it's illegal to download a TV show off the internet, when you can tape it off the TV with a VCR. If, hypothetically speaking of course, I download an episode of Doctor Who instead of waiting three weeks for it to air in the US on Sci-Fi Channel (trying to avoid spoilers from the Brits who've already seen them), what does it matter? It doesn't harm anyone. They can't even argue I've missed being indoctrinized by the commercials on Sci-Fi, because I have a DVR and I fast forward through them anyway. But it's copyrighted, so it can't be distributed. And the production companies, etc., go through a lot of trouble removing the content off the web.

However, what I do have a BIG problem with are people who actually profit from the distribution of copyrighted materials. There's a big difference in passing around a recorded copy of a TV show between friends, and burning copies of a TV show and selling them. The book Illicit by Moises Naim paints a scary picture of where that revenue from ripped DVDs and designer knock-offs actually goes. It's not just some guy trying to earn a few extra bucks that he can't come by honestly. The fact that he's not out selling drugs isn't necessarily better. It's pretty serious stuff. Some of it's real sophisticated, some of it's not, but a lot of it's frightening.

And it's getting harder to tell what's pirated. For instance, I just purchased a 25-disc Baby Einstein DVD set from a seller on Amazon. It arrived timely in the mail, and it was in perfect condition. The problem? Apparently, Baby Einstein has never sold a 25-disc collection. How did I find this out? My DVD player is 8 years old, and it doesn't play ripped DVD's. It can't recognize the media, it's too old. My laptop, on the other hand, does play ripped DVD's. The Baby Einstein discs played just fine on my laptop, meaning I was pretty sure the DVD's were pirated. Baby Einstein confirmed my suspicions. But if my old Toshiba DVD player didn't have such a long life, I would have never known the discs were pirated. The copies were damn good. Incredibly professional.

I contacted the seller and told them the DVD's didn't work on my DVD player and I wanted a refund. They stated I could not have a refund, but if I sent them back the DVD's, they would send me a replacement. So I filed a claim with Amazon instead. Amazon told me to return the DVDs to the seller, but something just doesn't feel right about that. They're just going to resell it to someone else. They know it's pirated. So, I'm going to talk with the anti-piracy people with the Disney company. They might want the DVDs instead.

I'm disappointed though. Cora loves the Baby Einstein DVD's. We have Mozart and Monet, but Mozart is scratched (the result of wear and tear from my niece and nephew). Maybe they'll be willing to replace Mozart for being so helpful in the fight against piracy. Honestly, Cora doesn't need 25 Baby Einstein DVD's, I really only want her to watch the composer ones, which I can buy separately. Perhaps it can be argued that money going to the Disney company isn't really money well spent either. But at least (I'm fairly certain) it isn't going to terrorism and a whole assortment of international crime.


Tranny Head said...

You went to SOO much effort! I would have been like "eh, we can watch it on the computer." But then again, I've been known to purchase rip-off handbags and whatnot from street vendors for almost nothing . . . so . . . I guess I'm not one to talk!

Proto Attorney said...

Yeah, I know, but I don't let her anywhere near my laptop. I live in fear of projectile vomit. Sigh.