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Paying Fancy Prices to Pretend that I Have A Fancy Life

2005/05/22

Piracy

CBC said the good production quality piracy DVD of Star Wars has been available in all streets in Shanghai now. Isn't it awesome? My friends from Europe and North America always buy hundreds (not exaggerated) of piracy DVDs every time they come to visit China and take them back home. I think, piracy DVD must be another thing you need to buy in China beside tea, silk and other Chinese stuffs. (Then you might also buy a DVD player from China, or you can only play them in your computer.)

Piracy is both a way of sustaining Hollywood and a means of fighting it. First, it copies the production of Hollywood and other capitalist products, for example, piracy nike. Such piracy products would help broadcast the fame of the originals. Second, all of these are done in a non-approved way. In capitalist term, it is called 'illegal' because piracy makes Hollywood and other big companies lose money. It's not as brutal as Ben Laden, but more influential.

According to an economy professor at Fudan, piracy is a primary accumulation of capitals, which is benefitial to the vendors, the mass, and the government. In the context of Chinese society, piracy DVDs help to solve the problem of lack of work positions and laid-off workers. It also satisfies the needs of the mass. They pay less money (1 US dollar per DVD) and enjoy the same products (movie, music, software and so on). As a matter of fact, I and many of my friends cannot afford going movie theater in China. Moreover, many new technologies are developed in the industry of piracy. Last year, the technology of saving several movies in one disk was developed and applied to piracy industry, which means people could spend only 1 dollar to watch 3 latest movies. (How sweet it is!) Hence, I don't think the pace of piracy industry would halt in China.

Piracy belongs to middle class Chinese, while a more rebel industry, free download, is popular in the younger generations. But these two industries are not competing each other. If one has money and doesn't want to spend time searching and waiting, one just needs to go to the piracy market, vice versa. Free/illegal download is a global phenomenon. However, piracy is a unique industry in the transition of Chinese society. It's a combination of primary capitalism, the rise citizen society in the mass media era. It could be a good topic doing research in China.

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