The only way is bootleg

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Long ago, my family loved to watch movies on the weekends, so visiting the video store became a Saturday ritual.

That ritual changed along with technology: from VHS, to DVD to Blu-Ray, to the internet, where people don’t even have to leave their homes to see a film, thanks to video on-demand.

But in Venezuela, video stores are not the only thing that have disapeared. Fully-legal videos for rental and/or sale are just about impossible to find, (there are some exceptions in shopping malls.)

A friend of a friend of mine sells pirated DVDs, bootlegged music concerts mostly. He told me that right now he’s doing better than when he worked as a computer store employee. In a normal Venezuelan street, all the movies, music, video games and software programs offered are pirated.

How widespread is piracy in Venezuela? A recent article in Caracas newspaper 2001 confirms that piracy is now the mainstream. Quemaítos aren’t just for shady kiosks downtown anymore: they’re going legit inside the malls, too. Places that sell legal products are dropping like flies and those still open face an uphill struggle to compete with rock-bottom pirate prices.

A report by the Business Software Alliance noted that 88% of all computer software sold in Venezuela comes from illegal sources. The average all across Latin America is 61%. The U.S. Commerce Department has blacklisted Venezuela, along with several other countries.

Current copyright legislation is outdated and the Chavernment has not been particularly interested in cracking down those who sell and distribute bootleg material. Quite the opposite: in the rejected constitutional reform of 2007, the proposed Article 98 was notoriously vague regrading copyright protection.

After all, extending property rights to intellectual creations is a notorious bourgeois aberration, right?