Pirated DVDs still being sold in Brunei

, National 3 minutes, 40 seconds

BRUNEI-MUARA AND BELAIT

AT LEAST five retail shops in Brunei-Muara and two in Kuala Belait were seen selling pirated DVDs and CDs openly to public.

Pirated movies continue to be sold rampantly in the sultanate with the re-emergence of retail outlets selling illegal copies of DVDs, CDs, and VCDs despite the government’s efforts to stop them.

The Brunei Times received public tip-offs on the locations of some of the retail shops in the Brunei-Muara district, particularly in the Kg Sungai Hanching and Lambak area.

When The Brunei Times visited two shops in the forementioned areas, the entrances were covered with DVD covers.

Most of the DVDs and CDs were priced at $3 with the discs arranged based on its genre and release dates.

The sellers said they have not been selling original discs since three years ago as customers prefer buying pirated copies.

Both sellers also revealed that the retail shops were run by the same person.

A shop in Citisquare in Berakas, meanwhile, claimed that they were selling original DVDs and CDs at prices around $5.

This was also claimed by a few other retail shops in the Gadong commercial area.

Others, however, were adamant that original copies of DVDs and CDs cannot be bought at $5, adding that original titles will usually range from $20 to $50.

Fatima Azupardo, manager of another DVD store at The Mall, Gadong, said consumers should be able to identify original DVDs and CDs based on the packaging.

“(Original discs) usually come with company’s address as well as their hologram that would be a high quality material. If there’s no address and hologram on the cover, then it could be a copy or pirated discs,” she said.

“Now it’s easy to detect whether it’s pirated or original. There is a sticker on the cover that people can scan using android phone (to check its originality),” said the manager, adding that AV Audio&Video no longer sells DVDs and CDs due to its decline in popularity.

Meanwhile, in Kuala Belait, one seller claimed that revenue has dropped steeply with faster and more widespread use of broadband, which has shifted customer demand in favour of downloading movies and music online.

“The regulation and enforcement had an effect, but that is only half of the story. Just like how CDs and DVDs killed the sales of VHS, the increase in Internet speed and use has killed off the need for physical mediums for media, both illegal and original,” said the seller who asked not to be named.

She added that with the shift in consumer choice, a small number of sellers have emerged online who will provide the soft copy files for movies and television series of the customer’s choice at a small fee.

“I have seen on websites and Facebook people offering this service. But as more and more people have fast Internet access, the number of these sellers will probably diminish,” she said.

She observed that the majority of televisions made recently have either USB slots, an HDMI input or allow for a VGA cable to be connected, which allow for media to be played from external sources like laptops and hard drives.

“VCD and DVD stores these days are becoming less and less noticeable in Brunei. It doesn’t matter whether you are selling illegal or original movies or music, you will never be making as much profit as you would be ten years ago,” she said.

In Kg Pandan, a small store located in the same building as a major supermarket was selling pirated movie discs for $5 each on average.

The store had many empty shelves and sold no television series.

Nearby in the heart of Kuala Belait town, a larger store sold a mix or original and pirated titles. Pirated movies were sold at $5, while original titles costed at least twice as much, depending on the date of release.

When contacted, authorities were either unable to comment or could not be reached.

In 2009, a campaign against pirated CDs and DVDs was actively carried by the Recording Industry Association of Malaysia (RIM) in collaboration with the Attorney General’s Chambers and the Royal Brunei Police Force.

Brunei had been excluded from the US Trade Representative Office (USTR) “Watch list” of intellectual property rights (IPR) in 2013 after the country had made an effort in eliminating the pirated businesses in few years back.

The Brunei Times