Saturday, February 7, 2009


Brazilians are a lot less strict about following copyright laws than we are in the US. Everything from music to books can be (pretty much) freely copied or purchased with little to no restrictions. A good example is the books I use for teaching English. Most of my students don't want to spend the money on new books, so they just make a photocopy of my book and have it bound. Voila, just as good as the original (well except that there's no color).

On practically every street corner you can find guys selling pirated DVDs. They usually have them laid out on a sheet or some kind of plastic, and someone once told me that it's so they can snatch it up really fast and run if needed, although the police don't seem to give these guys a second look. In fact, a sight I have burned into my memory is of 2 cops looking at a bunch of pirated DVDs and buying one from a vendor.

I think the funniest pirated DVD story I know is about this woman I used to be friends with who runs a pirated DVD rental place out of her apartment window. She lives on the ground floor of an apartment complex, and has a whole display of DVDs to rent. So other residents come by, look them over through the window and then rent them out for like R$1 or R$2 per night. She's smart in that she doesn't actually make the copies at her house, she makes them at her mother's house. I guess on some level she's worried about being caught, but not enough to shut down the operation. And from what I saw she does a pretty decent business...when she's home she just opens up the window and people start showing up to rent out a movie for the night.

The only pirated movies I have bought, I guiltily purchased because I had an eight hour layover in the São Paulo airport and I wanted to have something to do. It was kind of a last minute decision and so I was at the mercy of what the vendors had on sale. Sometimes they have kind of bizarre choices, things like "Anaconda 2". I ended up with Miami Vice and Shakira unplugged. I actually enjoyed both of them a lot!

Anyway, I sometimes feel guilty when I break copyright laws here, but not enough to not do it. But then again, everyone else is doing it too.

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