Content Pirate Heaven In The Heart Of Europe
You stroll through a busy market, and between the fresh produce and local handicrafts you come across tables filled with DVD and CD cases featuring washed out blurry covers that obviously are fresh off a cheap color inkjet printer. The titles include not only the latest movies that have just premiered, and a couple that are not due out for a month or so, but also software such as the newest versions of Microsoft Office 2007 Ultimate and Adobe Creative Suite which retail in the thousand dollar range. However, any of these so obviously counterfeit discs can be yours for just a few dollars.
It is to be expected in the lawless reaches of the Third World where content pirates run rampant and completely out of the reach of the RIAA, MPAA and the other organizations whose mandate is to enforce that content providers actually get paid for their work. However, these markets are not in some dusty Zimbabwean village or in a humid rainforest town in Southeast Asia. They are located in Italy, in the heart of the European Union!
Do you want virtually any movie, record or software, no matter how recently released or pricy? 5 Euros and it's yours! There is virtually nothing that is not readily available. Right now you can pick up AutoCAD 2009 for about $14, the just premiered Monsters Vs. Aliens for $7, and the latest Kelly Clarkson CD for $3! It is not difficult to find these pirate retailers operating openly in most major Italian cities, but the most blatant and outrageous have to be found in Naples. At the far end of the railway station square there is a daily market which mostly hawks Chinese made cheap dry goods, shoes and clothing. Amidst the hubbub there are at least a dozen sellers of undisputedly pirated DVDs and CDs who will hand you the latest version of any major movie, record or software you want for around 5 to 10 Euros… and a little bit of haggling will get you a considerable discount on that!
What makes Naples’ situation even more flagrant and egregious is that right on the corner from this market is a… Police Station! The local cops hang out on the street corner, leaning on their sky blue Alfa Romeos in the midday sun, within three or four steps of a stack of a hundreds of pirate discs and not only do absolutely nothing about it, but when I’ve personally drawn their attention directly to it, all they do is shrug.
When you see first hand the pirate merchants so blatantly hawking their wares, you have to ask yourself whether Naples is even in the European Union, with its traditionally strong copyright protection legislation. There are over four times the number of bureaucrats per capita in the European Union than in the USA, and the EU prides itself on its strong and effective anti-piracy policies. Apparently no one told the gray legislators in Brussels yet that the capital city of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies is, at least technically if not in reality, within the EU!
The copyright violation situation in Naples is so completely out of control that you are left to wonder whether it will ever be stopped or even measurably curtailed. In the meantime, these street vendors are making small fortunes ripping off legitimate copyright holders and laughing all the way to the bank.