Piracy, Plagiarism, and Stolen Content in Sri Lanka

Speaking about yesterday’s post and that news site, there’s a lot more content on that site that, I believe, is most likely stolen content. A lot. But since I’m not the copyright owner, I don’t know that for a fact and I certainly can’t file DMCA complaints for other people, only myself. But this gets a bit into a different attitude here.

English-language newspapers here tend to have a fair bit of foreign content, some more than others. The foreign content tends to be obvious when the article talks about weather that few here are familiar with like snow, icy roads, and blizzards; pale skin that burns quickly and red heads with blue or green eyes; miniskirts (which I’ve only seen on foreigners here) and tank tops (also not generally worn here), fur coats, and winter coats; corporate America with business loans, takeovers, and the like; and then there was Brangelina. I think you get the idea, yes?

And most of that content is unattributed. Not to the author, not to which news service it came from.

Do the newspapers pay for it? It’s entirely possible that they may, but generally, probably not all, but possibly some. At least, people here tend to think that of course the newspapers don’t pay for the foreign content.

With one newspaper in hand, on a lark, I sat down with my computer and Googled one article. It gave me results to a particular news service where the copy originated from. I read the terms and conditions on that site, and, in addition to having to pay to use the content, this particular site also required that they be attributed as the source along with the author. I checked a few more articles, and all went back to this same site. Clearly, this particular newspaper violates copyright by stealing content. Confirmed.

Then there’s television. A station buys a television series, then they play it on the English channel (perhaps two or three times during the week even), then again on the Sinhala channel with Tamil subtitles. Did they pay the licensing fees to play it once, or did they pay for the right to rebroadcast that show a second or third time in English and pay again for the right to broadcast it in Sinhala? Word on the street is no, of course they didn’t pay more than once. Why would they? And who would ever know?

DVD movies and music CDs here are all pirated. I had, at one time, thought that there was one store in the country that sold legal DVDs since they charge $15 US per DVD as opposed to the going rate of $1.80 to $2.50 US, but then I realized that the Monopoly game we bought was actually a Monoplay game. Now I’m not so sure that those DVDs are legal after all, if you see what I’m saying.

For that matter, there was a news item a couple of years back about how half the textbooks used in the school system are pirated – printed in this country, yes, by companies that did not own the copyright. And sold to the government-run schools at the standard textbook costs.

Hmm. Yes, Sri Lanka signed the Berne Convention, but it doesn’t seem to be holding too well here, you know?

Author: LMAshton

8 thoughts on “Piracy, Plagiarism, and Stolen Content in Sri Lanka

  1. It sounds like a wide-spread problem indeed and in some ways, makes the AP’s recent crackdown on bloggers almost make sense, although it sounds like their attentions would be better spent on foreign news agencies/companies that are not complying with the statutes of the Berne Convention.

    (Apologies too for the grammatical typo in my last comment…it was late. Very late.)
    Love the new site design by the way!


  2. This is a great article. My articles have been printed in full without proper credit. Doing something about it has been on my list for years now. Never got around to it. Maybe this year.

  3. Sounds very frustrating–enough to make one almost hyper-paranoid. Kudos to you for (it seems) taking your own stand and not accepting it as “just the way things are”.

  4. What doesn’t help is that, here, when a kid goes to school and gets a textbook for the year for their schoolwork, it’s never returned back to the school. So for the next school year, the school has to buy yet another set of textbooks even though last year’s is still good and current enough.

    It all goes back to the cultural attitudes of “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” with no thought or consideration for other people. But on that topic, I could go on for pages and pages… It seems to be a cultural thing that people think that everyone else owes them. For what, I don’t know, but that’s the irrelevant part… It doesn’t help that the government and its politicians are so corrupt that, in some ways, it’s probably one of the few ways that people can fight back. Or more accurately, it’s probably just another reflection that corruption, bribery, and thievery are rampant in all levels of society.

  5. I think it is a huge battle that not just people in Sri Lanka face, but people all over the world. But it’s an uphill battle at that.

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