Friday, October 17, 2014

Media Bootlegging Businesses Booming in Cuba as the Nation Slowly Opens

Media Bootlegging Businesses Booming in Cuba as the Nation Slowly Opens
12:11 17/10/2014

MOSCOW, October 17 (RIA Novosti) - In the four years since the easing of
trade regulations in Cuba, the island nation has seen a huge boom in the
amount of illegal goods and media flowing into the country and while the
government could take steps to crack down on the illegal products, so
far they have left this burgeoning grey market alone, thus allowing a
flood of western media to spread among its people.
Most Cubans regularly purchase what is called the weekly "package",
which includes a variety of current TV series, films and Internet
publications, as well as magazine articles in PDF format, the Gulf Times
report. The "package" is distributed via a chain network, and the
selective content can be home-delivered. "The hard-drive disk is taken
to the distributor, and the distributor then does his or her business,"
says Isbel Diaz, a computer expert in Cuba, who is involved in the
underground trade. It is as it were an "offline Internet" service, Diaz
adds, as quoted by the Gulf Times.
The Cuban black market also includes the illicit distribution of fake
perfume, rum, beer, coffee and hygiene products. The vendors of these
products have trouble with the law more often, however, this segment of
trade is becoming increasingly acceptable. "Certain activities,
previously deemed unacceptable or socially negative, started to become
legitimate", says sociologist Maria Espina as quoted by AsiaOne. This
is, in her opinion, a natural way for the people to satisfy their needs
in the absence of genuine consumer market mechanisms.
Most Cubans can't access the Internet, as private households are not
allowed to; also people can only listen to radio and watch TV approved
by the government. This informative isolation has rendered the
bootlegging of the US, Mexican and European TV programmes a profitable
business. A flash drive can be bought for less than a $1 in Cuba and the
device can be filled with TV shows, movies and recorded broadcasts of
the recent major sporting events for $2 in one of the many private homes
in Havana.
The authorities tolerate the underground trade of foreign video and
audio content is that they see it as a relief for the population,
starved for smuggled goods like TV series, movies, music and software,
AsiaOne reports. The government is much more sensitive about news media
content, foreign news is controlled and regulated heavily.
In Cuba, only state-affiliated institutions or foreign enterprises have
broadband internet access or satellite TV, therefore "it is very
suspicious that such a large amount of information contained in those
'packages' can be updated on a weekly basis", says Isbel Diaz. Given the
circumstances, it is fair to suggest that distribution of the Internet
content may be sanctioned by the government.
International producers of media content, sold in Cuba, naturally are
not protected under copyright law. Pirated content sometimes is even
shown on official TV, which is "carrying shows from American channels
without paying for the rights", says Cuban TV director Juan Pin Vilar,
as quoted by AFP. Nobody objects on the American side, because "there is
a kind of tactical willingness (in the US) not to bother Cuba because
culture... is a very effective means of communication," says Jorge de
Armas, an influential Cuban exile in Washington as quoted by AFP.

Source: Media Bootlegging Businesses Booming in Cuba as the Nation
Slowly Opens | Analysis & Opinion | RIA Novosti -

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