Chile Economy — 29 April 2011





Here in Chile pirated films with the imprimatur “Property of Weinstein Brothers do not Duplicate” appear on the street as quickly as they appear in theaters in the USA. You could see “The Black Swan” (Cisne Negro in Spanish) practically the same day as it appeared in theatres here and in the USA in English with Spanish subtitles. Illegal immigrants from Peru sell them in the street markets. The carabiernos come and chase them away with their motorcycles but the real loss of revenue to the American producers is not the thousands of pirated DVDs–it is their refusal to deliver content on line or sell DVDs at a price which people can afford. No one here is going to pay $40 for a blueray DVD in a country where the vast majority of people earn less than $1,000 per month.

 

Hollywood and New York content providers are listening to their copyright attorneys and not to common sense when they do not export their on-line offerings thus fostering its piracy by refusing to do so. In their thinking they are following the old model of print publishing where one published a book in New York with say Simon and Schuster and then resold the same to a different publisher at the Frankfurt Book fair who would publish it months later in say London. The Internet has rendered such timelines and geographical barriers moot and led to losses for traditional publishing outlets like print newspapers and magazines and of course to music sales as well.


Here in Chile Dr. House is quite popular. It is broadcast in English with Spanish subtitles. But it is not available on demand. In the USA you can watch episodes of Dr. House when you want to at hulu.com. That is far better than ordinary television which delivers content at a fixed time. But Hulu is blocked in Chile.

In the USA movies are online as well at netflix, Amazon.com, iTunes, crackle.com, and others. At netflix you can watch an almost unlimited number of mainly older movies for $10 per month. (The current releases and newer content are still under control of Starz Play, HBO, and others.) Netflix recently opened up in South America but their offering does not include new release movies.  Same with Apple iTunes which also recently opened up in South America.  So the piracy of new release movies will continue because there is no place to get them legally.

Pandora radio is also blocked here as is Spotify. Pandora lets you create your own radio station based upon a mix of artists you choose yourself. It is free and supported by advertising. Apparently the movie and record companies have not made agreements with resellers here in Chile or otherwise contracted a means by which to pay what in Spanish is called “derechos del autor” which is basically a copyright and royalty issue.

Some content is available here on line. For example Frontline and CBS 60 minutes work. You can watch “Whale Wars” but not The History Channel. The Discovery Channel is broadcast here in Spanish on cable television but the same content is blocked on the Internet.

What should the future entail for Hollywood? Clear thinking movie and broadcast executives should agree that it would be better to charge something for their offerings rather than give it away for free. That said Amazon.com, Apple or perhaps some Chilean reseller like TVN or Chilevision could embrace the Latin American market rather than ignore it. They could expand hulu.com into hulu.cl (Chile), hulu.co (Colombia), hulu.ar (Argentina), and so forth and make revenue by including local content advertising. At the same time the US diplomats can continue to work with counties such as Chile to crack down on piracy. Chile already is doing that sort of policing.


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