Metro Manila · The soaring trade with pirated DVDs

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Sometimes it seems that in Manila pirated DVDs are more widely available than the original ones. While you might not be persecuted even though you buy them openly on the streets - bringing them out of the country might get you in serious trouble.

The majority of pirated DVDs are produced in China and get distributed on virtually every corner. Street vendors sell the newest Hollywood blockbusters at highly frequented sidewalks, especially near train stations, wet markets and bus stops. You even find stalls with wide selections of movies and series in some of the not-so-fancy malls, e.g. Makati Cinema Square. The quality of pirated DVDs varies. Some have a low solution or are hardly recognized by DVD drives, others - especially those in metal boxes – are even comparable to original DVDs. With around 60 Pesos they only cost a fraction of the original ones.

The market is soaring. Distributors and sellers face imprisonment of only up to 90 days and a fine of up to 50,000 Pesos – a calculable risk, given the chances of profit. These lax laws have been criticized internationally as well as locally. Quite a controversy evolved last year, when a presidential political adviser was caught buying pirated material worth 2,000 Pesos.

So purchasing pirated DVDs is not a great risk in the Philippines, but that does not alter the fact that it is wrong and will likely lead to an infected computer. You might be reminded of that if you dare to bring the movies back to your home country, as importing pirated products is illegal in many states and can be punished with hefty fines.

Read more about Laws, Rules & Regulations in the Philippines and the Megacity Manila.