Picture of the Day, December 16, 2009

Today’s Picture of the Day is of a guy selling bootleg (or “pirate”) DVDs and CDs outside the Co-op supermarket in Palmares. I bought a copy of the Batman movie “Dark Knight” and asked him if I could take his picture. Surprisingly enough, he said, “Yes, of course!” and posed with his DVDs.

I guess this is pretty typical of Costa Rica, so that’s why I included it today. Almost everything here is or can be pirated. People sell DVDs, CDs, and Karaoke discs at the bus stops and on the sidewalks. Trendy young kids sport the ever-popular “Holistar” T-shirts. Also, “Bookstores” here are usually just copy shops that can make a copy of an entire novel or even textbook for you. They’ll even bind it and, for a bit extra, make a color copy of the cover and call the whole thing a “clone.” Even at video rental stores, all the movies are copies. There are two classes of copied movies there: “clones” and “previews” (and that’s what they actually call them… they use English names).

The “clones” at video stores are just straight-up copies of DVDs, although for some mysterious reason, in the “Special Features” menu, usually only one feature out of six seems to work. The “previews” are sketchier. They’re just a videotaped version of a movie that someone somewhere recorded in a movie theater. The picture is obviously worse, the sound is pretty crappy, and often you have to deal with bizarre things like Russian subtitles or dubbing into some other foreign language. Needless to say, “previews” suck, but if you don’t want to spring for a movie ticket, I guess they’re an option.

In other words, if you came down here this weekend, we could probably rent or even buy Avatar or any other movie coming out this Friday.

In any case, there are obviously many advantages and disadvantages to such free-spirited piracy, but I won’t get into them now. I’ve got to finish my Batman clone (Heath Ledger’s not as good in Spanish, by the way).

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