Piracy in Brazil

May 29, 2011

Can piracy be a good thing?

Medosch argues that “piracy, despite being an entirely commercially motivated activity carried out in black or grey markets, fulfils culturally important functions” (2008: 81). I have to agree with his statement to a large extent. I am amazed with Medosch’s research trip to Brazil has confirmed how ‘pirate’ practices are carried out in the slums which Brazilians call them favelas. It appears that Brazilian favelas solely depend on piracy for survival, in terms of financial and economic sustainability. According to Medosch, everything is pirated in the slums of Brazil, “from water and electricity to bandwidth” and from “software to hardware”. I am not sure about ‘pirated water and electricity’, it just sounded like they have been stealing or illegally using water and power from elsewhere.

I have to agree with Medosch that piracy “gives people access to information and cultural goods they had otherwise no chance of obtaining” (2008: 81). Developing countries such as Brazil, Ethiopia and India (the list goes on) do not have a stable economy and government officials are often corrupted. Job opportunities are scarce, therefore, people living in the slums have to resort to exploiting copyleft methods to get their stomachs filled and make-shift shelters.

Can you really blame them? Or can you blame the government?

According to sources from the IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry) (2004):

  • Brazil was also listed as one of IFPI’s Top Ten Priority countries in 2002/3 and is set to remain in the listing for 2003/2004.
  • Brazil’s level of domestic music piracy was 53% in 2002/2003, translating to approximately 114 million pirate units.
  • The pirate market had an estimated value (at pirate prices) of US$166 million
  • Legitimate music sales in Brazil totalled 80 million in units

The example I would like to illustrate here would be 2007 hit movie Tropa de Elite.

Tropa de Elite by anasalome21Tropa de Elite, a photo by anasalome21 on Flickr.

Here’s a brief plot of what the movie is about.

Set in 1997, Captain Nascimento (Wagner Moura) has to find a substitute for his occupation for the sake of his family while trying to take down drug dealers and criminals before the Pope comes to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (IMDb 2007).

I chose Tropa de Elite as an example because of its commercial success after the film being widely distributed or sold on pirated DVDs months before it was screened in theatres in Brazil (Medosch 2008). According to Adam (2007), “a preliminary cut of the film was leaked and made available for download on the Internet” prior to the movie’s release to theatres in August 2007. The box-office success of the film was still at record-breaking levels even though estimates from research firm Ibope reported that more than 11 million had viewed illegal copies (Cajueiro 2007). Tropa de Elite was the “first film to be pirated before its release in the cinema”, constituting the first in Brazilian cinema (Adam 2008).

Despite the pirated leak, Tropa de Elite became one of the most popular movies in Brazil, and in the world. I find it really encouraging that even after 11 million had viewed the illegal copies, its box-office still enjoyed mainstream success. Cajueiro (2008) has reported a total of 743,734 tickets sold in 10 days, resulting accumulated box-office revenue of $3.8million. The word of mouth of the film had also contributed to the box-office success, “with 80% of the people rating the movie as excellent or good according to the same company” (Adam 2008). To date, 2.5 million people have seen it at the theatres.

Don’t you think acts of piracy “can be very necessary sometimes, in combination with a variety of methods of cultural resistance” (Medosch 2008: 95)? Similarly, I strongly do not support piracy. However, I thought piracy is a necessity for developing countries, such as Brazil.

If you choose to support piracy and engage in illegal downloads, I hope you get as frustrated as the guy in the poster below even when you decide to get an original copy from the retail shop in the near future.

Piracy by OwenBlackerPiracy, a photo by OwenBlacker on Flickr.


Adam 2008, ‘Tropa de Elite & Film Piracy in Brazil’, weblog post, 23 June, Eyes on Brazil, viewed 29 May 2011, <http://eyesonbrazil.com/2008/06/23/tropa-de-elite-film-piracy-in-brazil/>.

Cajueiro, M. 2007, ”Elite’ stirs controversy, box office: Brazilian film sees high level of piracy’, weblog post, 19 October, Variety, viewed 29 May 2011, <http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117974360?refCatId=1278>.

Elite Squad (2007). 2007, The Internet Movie Database (IMDb), United States of America, viewed 29 May 2011, <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0861739/>.

IFPI Press Release. 2004, ‘Brazil’s endemic piracy problem: New report’, weblog post, 30 June, International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, viewed 29 May 2011, <http://www.ifpi.org/content/section_news/20040630.html>.

Medosch, A., ‘Paid in Full: Copyright, Piracy and the Real Currency of Cultural Production’, in Deptforth. TV Diaries II: Pirate Strategies, London: Deptforth TV, 2008, pp. 73-97.


Are you HIP?

May 21, 2011

Do not even consider yourself hip (an urban word to describe someone cool) if you don’t Honour Intellectual Property.

I really liked the video below from HIP Friends, under the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore.

It was screened as a nation-wide commercial trailer in the cinemas and on television to fight against piracy in Singapore in 2007. I found it interesting as the characters in the 1-minute clip very relatable to us, the young adults and teenagers. There you go, we are the target audience .

I KNOW I WAS WRONG, BUT I JUST DON’T CARE!” (excerpt from the above clip, 0:17)

Take a step back and reflect on what the guy has said in the video. Just how many of us, and the peers among us, are at least once guilty of this? Everyone knows file sharing and and downloading files from peer-to-peer networking sites are illegal. And yet, we all still do so, because we simply do not care.

The clip is somewhat effective in serving as a wake up call to all of us. What if the police come knocking on our doors one day? I think that is only when we really learn our lesson and realise the seriousness of infringing intellectual property rights. It will be too late when that happens.

Let’s all be HIP and give Eric a round of applause.

I am Marc. I WAS a file sharer. 🙂


HIPfriends. 2007, YouTube, United States of America, viewed 21 May 2011, <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hocXOBC0UNQ>.

Intellectual Property Office of Singapore, 2011, IPOS – Intellectual Property Office of Singapore, Singapore, viewed 21 May 2011, <http://www.ipos.gov.sg/>.

Creative Commons License

May 14, 2011

Copyright or copyleft? I say we need them both hand in hand.

I have decided to copyright and copyleft the contents of this blog by licensing it under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0). Check out the bottom right of my blog for the CC logo. I will justify my choice later on in this post.

Allow me to briefly explain what Creative Commons is about.

The non-profit organisation was launched in 2001 to encourage derivative works by expanding “the range of creative works available for others to build upon legally and to share” (Rimmer 2007: 261). Mason (2008: 101) thinks that Creative Commons is a “creative tool that is providing us with new music … and clothes, but more important, it provides us with a simple, effective way to reinterpret established ideas into new ones”. By adapting works of other people and adding on to your own research and views, the subject or object becomes a better one in the long run. I think by creating a balance in the copyright law and the Internet, it is a good platform for consumers to showcase and exploit their creativity.

So why have I chosen the CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 license?

According to the official license page, consumers are able to share (to copy and distribute the work) and to remix, which basically means to adapt the work that belongs to the person. It makes sense because the purpose of us creating a blog or posting something online is wanting to get the message across and read by other Internet consumers. However, the following conditions must be adhered to:

  1. Attribution – attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor
  2. Non-Commercial – work used is not for commercial purposes
  3. Share Alike – distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one

This blog is created solely for academic and discussion purposes. I chose non-commercial because a selfish part of me do not want others to earn revenue out from adapting my work. Well, at least I am being brutally honest here. On top of that, I value people’s discussions and opinions, rather than them trying to make a profit out of it.

Take this Knol versus Wikipedia article written by Reginald Patterson for instance, he classified his article under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 license. Patterson (2009) offers a perspective on the difference between what can be expected of Knol, and what we have become accustomed to with Wikipedia style encyclopaedia implementations. Similarly, his article is meant for offering his opinions and allowing others to comment and discuss.

Oh and if you don’t already know, major sites like Google (the most popular search engine), Flickr (image and video hosting website), Wikipedia and Whitehouse.gov (official website of the White House owned by the United States government) use the Creative Commons licenses.

So what are you waiting for today?

Let’s all be this guy in the picture. 🙂

creative commons -Franz Patzig- by A. Diez Herrerocreative commons -Franz Patzig-, a photo by A. Diez Herrero on Flickr.


Creative Commons. 2011, Creative Commons, United States of America, viewed 14 May 2011, <http://creativecommons.org/>.

Creative Commons – Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported – CC BY-NC-SA 3.0. 2011, Creative Commons, United States of America, viewed 14 May 2011, <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/>.

Mason, M. 2008, The Pirate’s Dilemma: How Youth Culture is Reinventing Capitalism, Free Press, New York, United States of America.

Patterson, R. 2009, ‘Knol versus Wikipedia’, weblog post, 17 January, Knol – a unit of knowledge: share what you know, publish your expertise, viewed 14 May 2011, <http://knol.google.com/k/reginald-patterson/knol-versus-wikipedia/t7omkuodtii0/3#>.

Rimmer, M. 2007, Digital Copyright and the Consumer Revolution: Hands off my iPod, Edward Elgar Publishing Limited, Cheltenham, United Kingdom.

Who Uses CC? – Creative Commons. 2011, Creative Commons, United States of America, viewed 14 May 2011, <http://creativecommons.org/who-uses-cc>.

Did you know?

May 9, 2011

I just thought I might want to share this interesting remixed clip done by YouTube user Sullivanbio based on Karl Fisch’s series of ShiftHappens presentations.

American educators Fisch and McLeod (2011) have mentioned that they want “all children to be successful”and recognise that globalisation factors “have downsides just like other societal shifts”. That is why Fisch started the series of ShiftHappens project “to help children learn and grow so that they may become successful digital, global citizens” by focusing on the positive benefits of globalisation (Fish & McLeod 2011).

I thought the first 3 minutes of the clip was really controversial as Fisch is an American himself. It seems as though he is ridiculing his fellow Americans. This clip would probably serve as a wake up call for Americans to realise they have to be more competitive than ever to survive in the world of globalisation we are living in today.

Now you know.


Fisch, K. 2011, Blogger, United States of Amercia, viewed 9 May 2011, <http://thefischbowl.blogspot.com/>

Fisch, K. & McLeod S. 2011, Wikispaces, United States of America, viewed 9 May 2011, <http://shifthappens.wikispaces.com/>

Sullivanbio. 2007, YouTube, United States of America, viewed 9 May 2011, <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fhnWKg9B2-8>

Twitter and General Election

May 8, 2011

Who would have thought social networking platforms and politics could work hand in hand?

In less than 2 months from the day I started signing up for a Twitter account, my opinion of the popular social networking and microblogging tool has changed completely today (as opposed to my earlier post on Twitter).

Held once every 5 years, the Singapore’s 16th parliamentary general election was held last night on 7 May 2011. Being a proud Singaporean who is pursuing a higher education overseas, I would very much like to at least follow what is going on with the most-talked about topic of the year in the country. I must say without the Internet and social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, I would be totally clueless about what is going on back in my home country.

I was able to catch the entire election on Channel NewsAsia Live (CNA) in Melbourne. The CNA coverage was not as useful as I thought it would have been. Most of time was just the news anchors chitchatting with the guests who provided commentaries on the election and results on the show. In fact, I got the election results from Twitter before the television news coverage did. Check out some of my friends’ comments:

Social media plays a huge part in this year’s election. Like what fellow blogger Clarence Chen has noted, it is encouraging to see social media engaging the youths of Singapore and interesting to see how social media is playing a significant role in politics. I would say this year’s election has managed to create the highest awareness yet with the introduction and use of social media platforms.

I have to pay tribute to the tweeters behind @ge2011 for bringing us the quickest updates of the general election possible.

You guys have done an incredible job! Let’s not forget the journalists and reporters too, for having to rush out the articles on the election in today’s papers.

Twitter rocks!


Facebook. 2011, Facebook, United States of America, viewed 8 May 2011, <http://www.facebook.com/>.

General Election. 2011, Channel NewsAsia, Singapore, viewed 8 May 2011, <http://www.ge.sg/>.

Twitter. 2011, Twitter, United States of America, viewed 8 May 2011, <http://www.twitter.com/>.

Facebook Privacy = More problems?

April 26, 2011

I came across this video on Facebook privacy and decided to share it here.

In this video, Tech Expert and TV Host Katie Linendoll speaks to CNN anchor Campbell Brown about Facebook privacy issues. Scroll to 3:48 for Linendoll’s part.

She says that Facebook users have to think twice when users put something up on it for the world to see. Internet privacy in this case does not exist – I agree with this part. Nothing is private anymore once you put something up on the Internet. But for the world to see? Really? I am not sure if I consider my network of almost 800 people the world. Unless all 800 of them share it on their profile. Even if they did, I do not consider them as “the world”.

Living in the digital age today, Linendoll has noted that people get into trouble more easily these days. A photo or status update on Facebook could result in losing one’s job. She has also suggested that if users are thinking twice about putting something up on the web, do not do it. Unless, you want to share the same fate as 16-year-old Kimberly Swann from Clacton-on-Sea, Essex Kingdom.

(Click on Kimberly Swann for the article)

Swann was fired from her administrative job after her boss found out about her Facebook status update that the job she was doing was boring and dull. In the article, Levy (2009) has also reported that employees of Marks & Spencer were caught calling customers names like ‘idiots’ and ‘cheap little b******t’ in a Facebook forum. Virgin Atlantic had also sacked 13 cabin crew for describing passengers as ‘chavs’.

Clearly, those who got themselves landed in such a state did not think of the consequences of their action. Like what Linendoll has suggested in the clip, do not even post something that could land yourself into big trouble. I would suggest not to have your bosses or superior on your Facebook. Most importantly, think twice before you want bitch about someone on Facebook, whatever medium that can be seen by the public.


katielinendoll. 2010, YouTube, United States of America, viewed 26 April 2011, <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wgAsFoYLys>

Levy, A. 2009, ‘Teenage office worker sacked from moaning on Facebook about her ‘totally boring’ job’, weblog post, 26 February, Mail Online, viewed 26 April 2011, <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1155971/Teenage-office-worker-sacked-moaning-Facebook-totally-boring-job.html>

Facebook Privacy and Problem Solving

April 23, 2011

A video of Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of social networking site Facebook, was shown during lecture. This blog post will be about privacy issues raised by the online social networking site.

Alternatively, you could view the chopped version (00:13) where Zuckerberg commented on Facebook users share to solve problems.


WordPress does not seem to support Tubechop embedded videos somehow. Meanwhile, do click it while I try to find other alternatives.

Zuckerberg points out 3 things in the 13-second clip:

  1. When people have control over what they share, they are comfortable with sharing more.
  2. The world becomes more open and connected when people share more.
  3. The biggest problems we face together will become easier to solve in a more open and connected world.

I do agree with the first point that problems would get noticed and highlighted when users post them up on Facebook. This would then create awareness that such problems and issues exist and they need to be solved or something must be done to them. They could be solved when a group of people, such as the user’s friends, advises by commenting in the comment box.

However, I think it does not make any sense that problems we face together will become easier to solve in a more open and connected world when people share more. The fact is I am only connecting with almost 800 people in my list at the moment. How on earth does that constitute to the ‘world’? It applies to the rest of the other Facebook users as well. We are only sharing information with people, or rather “friends”, who are in our network. So how on earth is the world going to interact and see what I have posted?

Zuckerberg claims that no privacy was compromised in the process of sharing information on Facebook (Boyd 2008). Boyd (2008: 18) has also said that information is “not private because no one knows it; it is private because the knowing is limited and controlled”. How is this information that is supposed to be private when your friends can see it? Speaking of which, users can also choose to hide certain posts, be it a status update, picture, video, link, etc. from some friends. With this limited knowing, how is the information going to reach out to the world? The world is certainly not open and connected with privacy and control settings made available to all users of Facebook anymore.

In my honest opinion, the video of Zuckerberg is merely an exaggeration of the advantages one can experience from using the site and a marketing tactic for it. It does not address the privacy issues that have been raised after all. The only problems solved I can think of via the use of Facebook are finding your long lost friends, addressing and debating latest issues, knowing the latest happenings of my friends’ lives, communicating efficiently and quickly via the “chat” function and so on.

Facebook is definitely useful to a large extent in sharing information and getting connected, but it is only to people within your network. The video posted is obviously misleading the public, especially to non-Facebook users.


Boyd, D. ‘Facebook’s Privacy Trainwreak: Exposure, Invasion and Social Convergence’, Convergence: The International Journal into New Media Technologies 14.4 (2008): 13-20.

theofficialfacebook. 2010, YouTube, United States of America, viewed 26 April 2011, <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWDneu_w_HQ>.

Tubechop. 2011, ‘Extract form Mark Zuckerberg on Making Privacy Controls Simple’, Tubechop, viewed 23 April 2011, <http://www.tubechop.com/watch/146252>.