Fri 29 Jun 2007
Filed under: Inside Burma,News
Piracy in Burma has brought the country’s music industry to its knees, according to performers and music producers, who say they can no longer compete with the stream of cheap copies of CDs and VCDs.
â€œPiracy drives the industry into absolute paralysis,â€ well-known songwriter Maung Thit Min told The Irrawaddy. â€œWe used to discuss intellectual property laws under the World Intellectual Property Organization, but nothing has been done to follow these guidelines.â€
The availability of cheap pirated products-despite periodic crackdowns by Burmese authorities-means that Burma’s numerous performers can no longer make a living from their music.
Pirated music, films and software are readily available from street stalls in Rangoon and other larger cities. While legal copies sell for about 2,000 kyat (US $1.50), pirate editions go for as little as 300 kyat (25 US cents).
The sale or purchase of pirated goods in Burma is illegal, but legislation protecting international copyright is difficult to enforce. Many of Burma’s most popular songs are derived from popular international artists.
Penalties for piracy in Burma range from a fine of 1 million kyat ($800) to three years in prison, but weak governmental efforts at enforcement do little to decrease the availability of pirated materials.
â€œChinese-made machines can make 50 copies of CDs or VCDs within five minutes,â€ said Zarganar, a famous Burmese comedian and social critic, who said pirated materials are hurting the country’s music industry in particular. â€œWe can even see pirated CDS oÂn sale near police stations.â€
Frustration over the piracy issue among music producers has led to a steady decline in music production.
â€œFor the production of oÂne VCD, we invest 40 million kyat (about $31,800), but we oÂnly earn back about half of our investment,â€ said a Rangoon-based singer and producer. â€œWe cannot survive under these conditions.â€
According to a report in the Rangoon-based Burmese language journal Weekly Eleven, the most popular artists in Burma can expect to move oÂnly about 7,000 copies of a new CD or VCD.
â€œI have already finished everything with my new album,â€ said well-known singer/songwriter Maung Maung Zaw Latt. â€œBut the producer is now scared to release it and is afraid of losing his investment.â€