Monday, May 11, 2009
Clash of the Pirates
So, the day I saw Star Trek, I read in the paper that the Patpong software pirates were clashing with Thai police who were trying to confiscate their wares.
I have to admit that I'm not suffering from nightmares over Paramount's failure to extract a few more miserable pennies from the third world. However, if a miserable artist such as myself is being hideously exploited, that's different. I see by checking the bit torrent websites that you can download a copy of my novel, Vampire Junction, for free. Each time that happens, I lose about a dollar. If all the dollars I lost were stacked end to end and turned into a noodle, I could probably eat my way to about Soi 12. I just can't get that upset about it. I mean, these people are reading my book. And while we all do this for the money ... no question ... is it really what we do it for?
Perhaps the Thai government should do for pirated movies what it has done for AIDS drugs; simply declare that, as an impoverished special case country, our people simply cannot get their Hollywood fix at Hollywood prices, and the copyrights be damned. Of course, that would be a very improper thing indeed. Joking aside, though, why not tax the illegal DVDs, put the money in a general fund, and distribute it to the owners according to some weighting formula, just as ASCAP distributes composer royalties for radio and TV? A 20 baht tax -- or 50, maybe, since the police would lose their protection money -- and a few underpaid government workers to determine the weighting system and skim a bit off the top, and the artists would probably get as much money as they would have had they been screwed by the real studios in the normal course of events.
Did see the (non-pirated) Star Trek at the Emporium. To my amazement, the luxury seats were sold out and I had to sit with the peons. Still, it was worth it.