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March 22, 2012
Cartel Abuse Goes South
No, I mean really south. Like South America south. As if to prove its long law enforcement arm
reaches across the equator, too, the Cartel (in the form of HBO) has "trigger[ed] an international copyright fracas in Chile."
As Scott Fulton explained for ReadWriteWeb, HBO managed to get itself known now for having a young college student handcuffed and dragged away by local cops. This student - Cristian Alvarez Rojas - is apparently accused of being behind a site called Cuevana.tv which itself is accused of being a violation of a relatively new (April 2010) local intellectual property law. Except that Rojas may not have broken the law because he kept the site's resources outside of Chile. The law may not cover this situation.
It's unarguable that Chile, like much of South America and vast swathes of Asia, does not have respect for American copyrights. Illegal copies of videos are sold in the streets or in cheap storefronts in Chile as they are in China. Police efforts to crack down on the retail end have proven largely futile. The argument, though, is that these street copies are made from downloads provided by sites like Cuevana.tv. Even though the site isn't making Rojas any money, if it is a source feeding the illegal retailers then it's clear why the Cartel would want it shut off.
But having a college kid dragged off in handcuffs is bad juju and horrible PR, regardless of how accurate or justified the reasons behind the action may be. Just like extraditing a kid from the UK is a terrible move but the Cartel seems bent on doing it anyway. Legally right != smart, guys. The people who are buying those street-copy DVDs are your natural customer base. Do you want them to think of you as 'the strong-armed gringos"? Do you think that being known that way will help sales of your legitimate product?
I certainly don't. But then I doubt anyone from the Cartel would ever hire me anyway.
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