Friday, June 10, 2011

pirates in the shops

My friend, Al F., mailed me an article from The Washington Post he thought I would find interesting.  The headline -- "Mexican drug cartels muscle in on lucrative movie and music piracy business."

Now, that is not news for those of us who have been talking about the drug lord involvement in copying and selling DVDs and CDs.  The Economist has been running similar warnings for the past three years.

But this story was a bit different.  The Mexican police conducted a raid on the largest counterfeit DVD and CD operation they have yet encountered.  They walked away with 12 tons of movie discs.  They also confiscated 1000 DVD burners.

Anyone who has visited a local market in Mexico -- or walked along the streets of any major Mexican city -- knows how common pirated movies and music are.  They are almost everywhere.  And they cost next to nothing -- compared to legal copies.

And almost everyone is now aware that the vast majority of the contraband copies are made by the drug operations and the profits go back to drug bosses to help finance illegal drug sales.  They are brazen enough to stamp some of the copies with a stallion or a butterfly -- depending on which drug operation is involved.

They are also master marketers.  I walked through Melaque on Wednesday and saw a copy of the current Pirates of the Caribbean in the flea market and a copy of Water for Elephants in a souvenir shop.  Both films are still in the theaters in Mexico.  Both are of uncertain parentage.

The pirating has become so bad that legitimate distributors have generally stopped trying to sell legal copies in Latin America.  What is the point?  It is Gresham's Law in cinematic clothing.

I really do not have a moral horse to ride on this issue.  If people want to buy from drug lords, I have no objection -- just as long as they are willing to answer the underlying moral issues.

And one of those issues is this.  If they are willing to put dollars in a drug lord's pocket for a bit of entertainment, would they also be willing to support the legalization of drugs in The States and Canada?  Perhaps putting that rebellion to a good purpose that could help reduce the number of drug deaths on both sides of the border.

Just asking.

Note:  If you would like a darkly amusing take on the drug wars, take a look at The Interview.


Felipe Zapata said...

I followed that link to The Interview. Man, that guy is really sharp! But ... wait ... that guy is me! Incredible.

Marc Olson said...

Excellent point, Steve. I know plenty of people who take advantage of the low prices of pirate goods, without giving any thought to the meaning or consequences of what they do, beyond saving a little money.

NWexican said...

Preach it brother..

Steve Cotton said...

Nothing like having my own amen corner.

Steve Cotton said...

And, of course, I realize the same thing can be said about political prisoners in China producing goods.  But this one is close to home.

Steve Cotton said...

And so he is.  Incredible.

Marie-wolff said...

Some people only think of their bottom line.  They do not care for the consequences.  I do enjoy renting a movie for $1.15 at the local Wal-Mart.

blog said...

We do not buy pirated DVD's here in Xico or Puerto Escondido. We write film scripts and KNOW how much work and money goes into the process - More important as you suggest adding to drug lord coffers is hardly a good idea.

ANM said...

What sort of Socratean rhetoric are you trying to pull on us today?  No "moral horse to ride?"  You're on one sixteen hands tall if a foot!

Go ahead, support drug lords, but don't be so insipid in doing so as to protest drug legalization!

(See "Mom" -- Go ahead, play on the roof if you want to.  But don't come crawling into the house asking for my help after you've fallen and broken your leg!)

If I have missed something in your barely disguised moral lecture, please let me know.


Elena Weiringa said...

Hi Steve,
Even though I don't support the pirating of entertainment, how
you think that more than 40 millions that live in extreme poverty in Mexico can pay for legal entertainment? Minimal wage:60 pesos per day, 1 ticket for the movies 55-70 pesos. Most people don’t know that this money goes to drug cartels even though they do know it’s illegal. They just get ehat is available for them.
Today’s news: 70% of the weapons confiscated by the Mexican govt came from the US, so the problem is not only drug dealing but wherever there’s a business involved the US has to be in. US wants Mexico to end with this problem where the US have almost accepted tacitly drug consumption, you can see it in the movies (where it’s cool and normal to use drugs)  famous people, etc etc.. they even allowed it for “medicinal purposes” so I guess everything is ok as long as all deaths don’t happen within their territory, but that's another story.


Steve Cotton said...

Nope.  I think that just about covers it.

Steve Cotton said...

Good point.  I forgot that the pocket being picked could very well be their neighbor's.

Steve Cotton said...

I haven't tried rentals down here.  I should.

ANM said...

Well, that's no fun.  ANM

Curtiselowe said...