In January of this year I wrote about the Fiji Audio Visual Industry Association's (VAVIA) DVD piracy media campaign. One reporter likened it to Bainamarama's "clean up" campaign,
The Fiji Audio Visual Industry Association [FAVIA] has followed the military in its clean-up campaign by tracking down illegal suppliers of Digital Video Disc's (DVD) in its fight to curb piracy in the country.As I reported at the time, this parallel between the activities of FAVIA and the RFMF was drawn by the press and not by FAVIA. In the intervening months, however, FAVIA's opinion of itself seems to have grown, culminating in FAVIA's claim to have participated in two raids against DVD retailers at Fiji Showcase last month.
["Audio body fights piracy", Fiji Times, January 15, 2007]
The Fiji Audio Visual Industry Association president, Chris Caine said they confiscated the DVDs with the help of the police, which had the authority to carry out such raids.Caine confirmed the joint FAVIA-police nature of this raid in a subsequent Fiji Times article published yesterday.
[DVD movies confiscated, Fiji Times, July 22, 2007]
Exactly when did it become acceptable for industry associations to actively participate - arm in arm - with police on police operations? FAVIA can and should make complaints to the police, consult with the police, lobby the police, and even pay for copyright law training sessions for the police, but confiscating alleged contraband "with the help of police" is overstepping their role. Further, despite the fact that the police did obtain proper warrants before conducting these raids, these statements create the impression that the police are serving the audio visual industry rather than impartially enforcing the law of the land.
Expect to hear more from FAVIA in coming weeks. FAVIA president Chris Caine, owner of IMDVD, seems poised to continue taking a hard line in its ongoing fight against DVD piracy and has issued a warning to DVD vendors, festival organizers, and would-be DVD buyers at the upcoming Hibiscus Festival:
"I understand the same vendors plan on having stalls during the Hibiscus festival and people have to be made aware that they, as buyers, are just as liable as the seller of breaching the Copyright Act, and so are the organisers of the festival."It is undeniable that Fiji's marketplace is currently dominated by pirated DVDs, a situation that must be endlessly frustrating for vendors of legitimate DVDs such as Caine. What do you do when the law is on your side but the alternative market controls over 90% of volume and provides your product at a fraction of your cost? One day FAVIA may successfully lobby the AG and the police to improve copyright enforcement in Fiji - but how will they convince buyers to rent a DVD for $5 a day when they can buy it for $1? By arresting them (with police help) at the DVD stalls at the Hibiscus festival?
[Seized DVD needs expert opinion, Fiji Times, August 9, 2007]
Photo by: Cayusa