Compact disc business marred by piracy -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Compact disc business marred by piracy

By Gibran Ashraf

Karachi:The optical disc business in the city has registered a decline as was revealed by various shopkeepers in a survey carried out at the Rainbow Centre, Karachi’s hub of pirated DVDs, VCDs, and audio cds.

“Over the past one and a half years, business has slowed down,” said Nasir Ahmed of CD Bank, one of the largest suppliers of Compact Discs (CD) in Karachi. Television cable has dented the business as cable operators rent the latest digital video discs (DVD) and run them on their networks spread over hundreds of households, Ahmed added. Cable network is not the only reason for the downfall of video wholesale business, dejected Mohammad Arif, owner of an audio CD supply store said . He added that this fall in demand can be attributed to the internet and easy sharing of downloadable content.

Another shopkeeper, Rehan Ashraf of Iqra Enterprises offering Islamic content mused that “since the government shut down the imports of CDs, the ‘pirated original’ CDs are no longer available in the market. This has allowed the smaller operators to rule the roost causing a severe drop in the quality of videos.” Moreover, these ‘pirated originals’ used to be imported from Malaysia but after the massive crackdown on pirated CDs that began a few years ago, foreign imports have dried up, local factories too have been shut down and small time copiers are the back bone of the CD entertainment industry now.

“We used to have our own factory producing and publishing a lot of local content, so we employed good quality CDs and DVDs. But after the closure of our factories by the government and the FIA, it has become difficult to publish local content,” Ahmed added. Furthermore, in the past companies such as Mega sound, Ana video, Sound master, Leo video, Sadaf Stereo have been the outlet for local production, releasing dramas, stage plays and music albums.

The basic problem here is that even though most people have heard the term copyright, nobody actually knows what it is? Recently, Sadaf Stereo was granted the copyright to sell Indian film ‘Ek Chalis Ki Last Local’ featuring the title song by Pakistani band – Call. The DVD for this particular movie costs Rs150 whereas any other DVD costs Rs60. The difference in price was because copyrighted CDs are more expensive. When the Sadaf Stereo officials were contacted to comment on the matter, they responded harshly. Rumours are rife in the market that the government has expressed its concern on granting copyrights to local companies, supposedly ter,ming this an unforgivable mistake. The shopkeepers at the Rainbow Centre are of the view that the authorities should promote the activity of issuing copyright, as with more awareness consumers and merchants will contribute to an overall trend of respecting copyrights. Furthermore, some visitors at the Rainbow Centre are particularly interested in video content related to certain Islamic organisations or jihadi outfits, who have become active in the back drop of 9/11 events. However, it is quite interesting to note that various kinds of smuggled video contents are easily available in the market but the video programmes of the jihadi organisations and other radical Islamic outfits are hardly seen anywhere in various stores of the Rainbow Centre. Some of the frequent visitors say that it is sectarian affiliations of a majority of these merchants and dealers, which bars them from selling the video content related to radical Islam. It seems that instead of government intervention or morality, sectarian preferences rule the decisions of our shopkeepers.
Source: The News
Date:9/25/2007