On January 5, I wrote a post about new penalties for CD and DVD piracy imposed by El Salvador as part of the implementation of CAFTA. Street vendors who made a living selling such illegal copies had taken to the streets of El Salvador in protest. That post has generated a lively discussion in the comments on my blog as well as on the Afterdawn web site which picked up my story and reported the issue.
Here are some of the themes in those comments:
- CDs and DVDs cost too much and we should not be protecting greedy Hollywood studios.
- Violating the copyrights of artists is just another form of stealing and should not get much sympathy.
- The only way the poor in El Salvador and other countries can get to experience music and movies is through the bootleg market. When you only make a few dollars a day, you can't afford $24.95 for a DVD.
- Respecting intellectual property rights is an important part of participating in the world economy.
- The US is imposing a corporate agenda on El Salvador. Salvadorans certainly did not know that passing CAFTA was going to mean they would lose their access to cheap bootleg discs.
- El Salvador should have considered the impact on its informal economy and the street vendors who need this revenue to feed their families.