October 21, 2020

Pirates of the Caribbean are a phantom menace


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699186-3x2-340x227By Karl Quinn National Film Editor From Sydney Morning Herald

Identified this week as one of the most ‘notorious’ physical markets on the planet, Caribbean Gardens is rather bereft of signs of the nefarious trade in illegal DVDs.

In the eyes of Hollywood, they’re a rum bunch of scurvy dogs intent on sinking the good ship Profitability and all who sail in her. But on this Wednesday morning at least, the pirates of the Caribbean Gardens market appear to be little more than a phantom menace.

Identified this week as one of the most “notorious” physical markets on the planet, the sprawling indoor shopping place in Scoresby, in Melbourne’s outer east, is rather bereft of signs of the nefarious trade in illegal DVDs that threatens to have Hollywood’s moguls begging on the sidewalks with nothing but a “will develop high-concept Adam Sandler comedy for food” sign between them and starvation.

Mind you, having been fingered by the Motion Picture Association of America the day before as a hotspot of naughtiness second only to a massive seven-kilometre open market in Ukraine, it would hardly have been surprising if some traders had decided home was a safer harbour for now.

“There’s no illegal discs here,” one stallholder with a table full of old music DVDs said, shortly before calling management to complain about Fairfax Media’s presence in the market.

kq_caribbean-gardens_wide-20131030200739308341-620x349“I reckon you’ll find a few more stalls here on Sunday,” said another trader, who also claimed to sell only legitimate DVD and Blu-ray material.

Management assured us that one trader had been evicted before our arrival for offering dodgy gear, and insisted that it had no tolerance for such behaviour. But you don’t need to be a copyright lawyer to deduce that intellectual property rights are not top of mind to many of those setting up stall at this market, and many others like it.

There are the toys that look like official Planes merchandise but carry no Disney logo; the One Direction beach towels professing to be “100 per cent official”, a sure sign they are anything but; the Cadio watches (such an easy typographical error to make). It’s like a Bermuda Triangle for IP.

Despite the profession of all-round squeakiness, we managed to walk away with a bunch of box sets that were clearly not the full monty. Yes, we picked up the complete third season of Boardwalk Empire from “Jim”, a trader who insists his gear is all clean (and appears to be telling the truth), but we also got a clearly questionable copy of the same thing at a rival stall, complete with a five-star grading on the rear sleeve from none other than “Riger ebertmcgucago” of the Sun-Times (closely related, no doubt, to the late Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times). Both, incidentally, cost just $20.

Our Blu-ray copy of Arrested Development season 4 was not; in fact, it was not even full HD, coming in at 720p (not the claimed 1080). The Walking Dead season 3 box set – “Returns this amazing!” the cover boasted – came with bonus ad breaks and watermarks from the US cable channel from which it was presumably pilfered.

A 3AW reporter on Wednesday bought clearly illegal burns of movies currently showing in the cinema – whether from the evicted trader or one of those we encountered is not clear – complete with the plain plastic sleeve and black Texta writing. But not all fakes are so easy to spot; in fact, our dodgy discs bore few, if any, of the telltale signs typically identified in the “how to spot a fake DVD” guides you can find online.

Jim says the market used to be the hotspot the MPAA claims, but its information is out of date. And, he adds, in another five years or so there will be no DVD trade here at all because even the elderly folk and families who constitute his market will have finally joined the downloading revolution.

And that’s the point, really. Yes, there’s copyright theft here, but if Hollywood thinks Caribbean Gardens is among its greatest threats it may have lost the plot entirely.

PHOTO: Questionable DVDs are not hard to find at Caribbean Gardens in Scoresby, although management denies this. Photo: Penny Stephens

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Related story:

Melbourne’s Caribbean Garden markets among world’s most notorious for pirated

By Will Ockenden and staff ABC News Australia

MAP: Scoresby 3179

America’s powerful film industry lobby group says a market in Melbourne is among the world’s most notorious for selling pirated DVDs.

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has released its latest report into movie copyright infringement.

It features what it calls a “detailed listing of the world’s most notorious marketplaces for the distribution of illegal film and television shows”.

High on the list of “notorious physical markets” are individual stallholders selling at Scoresby’s Caribbean Gardens and Markets.

“There are between 10 and 20 individual market sellers offering counterfeit Region 1 and 2 DVDs, together with other sellers offering burnt DVDs of recently released titles,” the report said.

The group points the finger at the Victorian and federal police forces for failing to crack down on stallholders selling pirated goods.

“The total number of sellers, while substantially reduced from mid-2000s, has increased recently due to a lack of enforcement,” the report said.

“State and federal police have shown no interest in enforcing the issue despite multiple entreaties from right holders.”

But the Australian Federal Police says only one complaint has been received about sellers at the markets in the past two years.

In April, the AFP received one referral from the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft alleging copyright infringements at the Caribbean Gardens and Markets.

This referral was rejected in accordance with the AFP’s Case Categorisation Prioritisation Model.

No-one at the Caribbean Gardens and Markets was available to talk to the ABC, despite numerous attempts.

However operations manager Robbie Ager reportedly told Fairfax the information in the report was outdated, and everything sold by stallholders now was the “real McCoy”.

Markets in Ukraine, China, Indonesia, Northern Ireland, Russia, Mexico and Brazil were also among those in the MPAA’s list of notorious markets.

The rest of the MPAA report reads like a digital pirate’s internet favourites, listing the hottest and biggest websites where movies can be obtained for free.

PHOTO: The US report looked at movie copyright infringement, including pirated DVDs (Francois Lenoir : Reuters)

Read the MPAA report RELATED STORY: Music revenue up as online sales boom at:


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