Medosch argues that: “piracy, despite being an entirely commercially motivated activity carried out in black or grey markets, fulfills culturally important functions” (Reader, page 318).
Medosch (2008: 81) argues that, “Piracy, despite being an entirely commercially motivated activity carried out in black or grey markets, fulfills culturally important functions.” It is true that piracy, most of the times is a commercially motivated activity, involving the process of ripping of the original data and as a result make their own profit with it. However, despite this commercially motivated purpose, piracy on the other hand, fulfills other functions that are important and essential in one’s cultural society.
For example, we will take a look at the recent development of Indonesia’s Hollywood movie distribution. In February 2011, the Indonesian government has decided to increase levies charged on the foreign films, especially those from Hollywood. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) finds this to be unfair. Based on a news article, I found out that, “In the past, the MPAA paid only $20 per meter of film but now that’s increased to $43 a meter, as well as 24% import duty tax and an income tax of 10-15% of profits.” The purpose of this increase, according to the government is to encourage the viewership of local films.
Until this moment when this article is published, the Indonesian movie importers have stopped importing Hollywood movies as a ‘war declaration’ against government’s policy that has raised different kind of responses, which mostly are rage and disappointment.
With such development, there is no other way for moviegoers in Indonesia to enjoy the Hollywood movies, except by the way of piracy, whether from the means of file sharing or the means of pirated DVD purchases. Piracy, despite its already wide practice then, has now become the only way that bridge the gap between Indonesia moviegoers and the movie itself.
Out from Indonesia, and setting our eyes into countries where many foreign cultural goods are completely inaccessible, piracy does fulfill an important role by giving such access. China, where the government system doesn’t allow such access or Brazil, where in many parts of the country, is places full of slum-dwellers and people that are too poor to get access to modern technologies, relies heavily on piracy as their only way to access ‘the world out there’. This is in support of Medosch (2008: 81) statement that, “piracy not only serves to provide access to the products of mainstream commercial movie industries, it also fills gaps in provision and provides access to art movies and more difficult fare which does not get official distribution for whichever reason.”
To conclude, I am with Medosch with his point that piracy, despite of being judged as a crime that is as punishable as theft, has become an effective way to bridge a gap between cultures and places where without it, it will be impossible in some places for one to access the world of information, be it because of poverty or government regulations, whichever that may be.
Medosch, A. (2008) ‘Paid in Full: Copyright, Piracy and the Real Currency of Cultural Production’ pp. 73-97 in Deptforth. TV Diaries II: Pirate Strategies. London: Deptforth TV.
Link to news article: http://english.ntdtv.com/ntdtv_en/ns_life/2011-02-22/310247258664.html