DEATH BY COPYRIGHT PROTECTION
The guy knew what he wanted. He breezed confidently into the video store and within minutes, he had selected sixteen movies. Impressed at both the speed of his selection and the number of DVDs that he was purchasing, I remarked, “Seems as if you are stocking up for the entire month there.”
“Entire month?” he responded. “This is my weekend collection.”
I was impressed. He and his family were going to view sixteen pirated movies for the weekend.
If he had to purchase those movies as originals, he probably would barely be able to afford to look at one. And if he had to rent movies at rates that compensated for the payment of copyright protection, at best he may have only been able to view four. But with piracy rampant, he could purchase sixteen and just for the weekend.
He did not have to come to the video store. All over the pavements in the country persons are peddling pirated movies. You name the movie and it can be had in Guyana. You have a better chance of obtaining a rare movie in Guyana than you have of being able to buy it online.
You take away pirated movies and you would be taking away their weekend entertainment. Viewing pirated DVDs are the poor man’s entertainment. Take that away and it is back to television, the content of which you have no control over.
Enforce copyright protection and hundreds of small vendors are going to bust overnight.
There used to be a time in Guyana when many local television stations would simply relay foreign programmes. It is not clear how many of them actually paid copyright fees for these programmes but in some instances, it was suspected that the rights for many of the programmes were not being paid for.
That is, many of the programmes may have been pirated. Copyright protection will therefore also affect many television stations, especially those that show pirated movies and soap operas.
Without DVDs and television, the small man can still, however, turn to the radio. But here again, it is believed that a great deal of music that is being played is being aired without the payment of royalties to the artistes that recorded them or the record companies that produced the music. So with copyright protection, radio in Guyana will be seriously affected.
As much as 90% of the parents in Guyana are forced, because of high prices, to buy pirated textbooks to send their children to school.
With copyright and patent laws being enforced also, clothing would be more expensive. There are numerous counterfeit brands on the local market, most of which can be mistaken for the original. And there are many Guyanese who dress fancy in these counterfeit products which mimic the originals.
Business will also encounter problems. The majority of computers in Guyana used pirated software and virus protection. Now if copyright protection was instituted, imagine what would happen. Tens of thousands of computers would not be operational. Imagine the effect this would have on the economy.
With copyright protection, a great many things would be more expensive and given the already high cost of living, should copyright protection be introduced, it is going to send up the blood pressure of a great many Guyanese.
This will make them sick and send them to the hospital. And here again, problems will present themselves because Guyana is overflowing with generic drugs.
With updated copyright protection laws, the major drug companies are going to move against imitation medicines which violate their patents. As such medicines are going to be expensive and who knows, persons could well die because of not being able to obtain an expensive copyright protected tablet that could save their lives.
Those who are making the argument, therefore, that the government is encouraging persons to break the law by purchasing pirated textbooks, need to look around the country and see just how much copyright protection is being violated and has been violated now for decades.
The government should not be the only one setting the example. The public also needs to be setting the example. There should not be one standard for the government and another for the rest of the country.