Friday, March 20, 2015


By Mansor Puteh

Here is a most unlikely scenario concerning the sale of counterfeit DVDs of Hollywood and films from many countries.

It is a common scene in an ordinary ‘night market’ or ‘pasar malam’ as they call it there in an undisclosed country.

In one of the states in the country which comprises of some other states and one national territory of the capital city, are two thousand outlets selling counterfeit DVDs, most of which are of films made in America, the Hollywood blockbusters that are shown in the cinemas officially and legally, but more so and openly in the night markets, for US$1.5 per piece.

The original editions are sold in the video stores for around US$7.00. But almost no one would in the right mind want to buy these when they can get the same DVDs of the same quality elsewhere.

And the sale of counterfeit DVDs are not only sold and available in the night markets in that particular state but also in all the other states, and also everyday at certain areas normally under the light of the traffic light where the peddlers often tap into the electricity from the lamp posts or by using small portable power generators that emit a lot of smoke or fume.

The peddlers are often there everyday and at certain days when the night markets are opened, as they are available at different locations for one or two days in the week.

The peddlers go from one night market to the next one selling almost the same DVDs, which gives a strong indication that they are got from the same source, the distributors of such items, which are normally controlled by a small group of enterprising businessmen who are mostly the Chinese who are also involved in other businesses to cover for their financial reports and personal wealth.

Their true identities are unknown, and they can very well be someone familiar, someone with a public profile or your next door neighbor.

The majority race in that country hardly enter such businesses as they are normally bound by their strong Islamic convictions which are also controlled by some enterprising Chinese who have been in control of such business since the 1960s selling pirated vinyl record discs.
Even those who do not make the grade in school would find some employment operating small business also in the same night markets.

The Chinese, who are in such business of printing and distributing counterfeit DVDs of films not only from Hollywood, but also from Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, Thailand and also Indonesia and India where they have a strong support from the races in the country, and especially with the many Indonesian and Bangladeshi and American factory workers who mostly work in the construction industry or factories.

No wonder the Chinese who established their so-called anti-crime associations do not say a word on the sale of illegal DVDs because they are all operated by their own kind.

And the Chinese-dominated political parties and other well-meaning groups also keep quiet on this. Don’t they consider it to be a crime operating such a business?

The Chinese media too look elsewhere…and have never made it an issue to discuss in their editorial or columns; not that I have seen any. And the matter has also not been discussed by any Chinese groups, even in the stalls, etc where many normally sit to have snacks together. 

One normally suspects the legal distributors of such films to be the same persons who would want to overproduce them so they are sold in the night markets and elsewhere illegally. It is a wild guess…but it could be a fact too.

The logic for such an assertion is that if there are others involved in the printing and sale of counterfeit DVDs, then surely, those who are operating it legally in their legal premises by spending a lot, would want to take action against the DVD pirates are they are described in that country. But this has never happened.

But so far no action of this sort had been lodged by the legal distributors of DVDs against the illegal ones, with the police or other authorities in that country.

Also locally-produced feature films in various languages such as Malay, Mandarin and Tamil are also not spared. Yet even the local film producers seem to have given up complaining with the authorities about the availability of the DVDs of their films in such places.

The producers of such films often sell their rights to legal distributors of DVDs, but the numbers of copies sold are often very small with most of them sold as counterfeit DVDs, which have similar designs and features except with the official stickers missing.

This should also give the strong indication that the legal distributors may also be the illegal ones, taking into account the earlier assertion of why the legal distributors are not too keen to file charges of the infringement of their rights on the films that they had bought from the producers.

There are so few people, especially and mostly Chinese who have been arrested and charged in court and consequently sentenced to jail and a hefty fine, but the number is so small that it is insignificant the their backers can quiet easily pay the fines on behalf of the frontrunners who man the stalls.

The funny thing is that the night markets are areas designated by the authorities for the small traders of other businesses, such as food, clothing and other cheap China-made electronic products that have managed to draw the crowds from around the areas where they are located, conveniently for them so that they do not have to travel very far to the city to get them; the traders come to their doorsteps to offer things they need for their everyday use and personal lifestyle.

Most of the distributors of counterfeit or illegal DVDs are those do not show their faces.

The frontrunners who are manning the stalls every day or night and openly driving in vehicles which carry the thousands pieces of DVDs from one location to the other, yet, the authorities are not able to determine who they are and where the vehicles had gone to collect the DVDs from and who the persons manning the stalls are to identify them and to charge them.

Some of them are taking up space in the night markets whose lots are given to those who apply for them to rent for the day or night. So whoever is operating anything especially counterfeit DVDs there are officially noted.

Yet, with this the authorities in that country are still not able to finally put the scourge or menace so that the sale of counterfeit DVDs in the country can be solved once and for all.

The question is: Are the officers in the relevant departments in that country are not willing to take stiff action against the distributors and peddlers of counterfeit DVDs, or are they paid to look elsewhere? 

Note: Don’t jump to the wrong or right conclusion on which country which is referred to in this article, it may not be what you think it is.

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