The Torrent - the Bulgarian's Best Friend
The recent closing down of the online library Chitanka.info, a piracy website, by the Bulgarian Unit for Combating Organized Crime prompted a mass discussion in the virtual space in Bulgaria.
After the closedown, angry users of Chitanka have dissed the Unit through comments on news articles and in different social networks. The supporters of the pirate website have “advised” the police to focus on drug dealers and killers, rather than the “people who are so good to provide us with free books”.
Bulgaria’s piracy problem is no news. The country has been under strict observation by the International Intellectual Property Alliance for years. Here is what their last report for 2009 says about Bulgaria:
“Internet piracy (both online and for the delivery of pirated hard goods) has become the most serious copyright problem in Bulgaria. While it is true that street piracy of pirated copyright materials (now mostly burned CDRs and DVD-Rs) remains a problem, that has been dwarfed by Internet piracy. The business software community continues to experience problems with end user piracy and hard disk loading. Over the past year, the film, recording, and software industries continue to report good cooperation with most Bulgarian enforcement authorities, including some major actions to take down some Torrent sites. However, there has been little progress imposing deterrent criminal sentences and civil remedies and damages, mostly due to an ineffective judiciary. Many prosecutors are well intentioned but unable to press cases forward.”
The Unit’s decision to close down Chitanka is one of the first serious actions taken towards the Internet piracy. In April, the head of Bulgaria’s Computer Crimes Department, Yavor Kolev, has stated that the two biggest torrent tracker Bulgarian websites, Zamunda.net and Arena.bg, will be closed down as well.
However, they are still active and still enjoy hundreds of thousands of users every day. In fact, according to data of the Alexa analysis agency, Zamunda.net is one of the top five websites in Bulgaria.
This data comes as no surprise, considering both the psychology of the Bulgarian nation and the economic situation in the country. The average Bulgarian cannot afford to buy an original music CD for BGN 30 or a book for BGN 20, or go to the movie theaters. Some Bulgarian towns do not even have music stores or movie theaters! So turning to the free torrent trackers is the logical choice for many Bulgarians.
I cannot help but think how na?ve U2’s Bono was in his op-ed column for the New York Times from January 2, 2010:
“The only thing protecting the movie and TV industries from the fate that has befallen music and indeed the newspaper business is the size of the files. The immutable laws of bandwidth tell us we’re just a few years away from being able to download an entire season of “24” in 24 seconds. Many will expect to get it free.”
If only Bono was aware that downloading an entire season of “24” takes less than 24 seconds in Bulgaria…
What is unimaginable for people from other countries is actually becoming more and more common in Bulgaria, where people have grown so accustomed to the Internet piracy that it has become something they cannot live without.
What is more, Bulgarians have started to believe it is their right to exchange any kind of intellectual property online, to the extend when an operation like closing down a piracy site occurs, they all attack the police, blaming the authorities for depriving them of their right of access to information.
Maybe if Bulgaria had a stricter law enforcement system, its people wouldn’t be so brave in challenging the law. Maybe, if the economic situation in the country was better, people would not be so keen on stealing other people’s intellectual property unpunished.
Bulgaria’s Western partners have piled up enormous pressure on its authorities to tackle the issue. But can you make people pay for something they can get for free? I don’t think so.
Then the only solution is for the Bulgarian authorities to take the necessary measures. Close down all pirate websites, punish the guilty ones, and leave the people with no option for stealing. If they can’t download it for free, they will sooner or later start paying for it and realize that there is no such thing as free lunch.
Yes there are libraries, but as with most state run institutions in BG they are decrepit, out-dated, starved of funds and inefficient.
Meanwhile, many Bulgarians have fast internet access and love to get anything for free, or even just paying a subscription to some torrent tracker or clicking lots of ads, it's worth it to get as many books, films, videos, music as you want.
Another commenter was right that they only closed down this torrent tracking site because they did not have the right "connections" and maybe did not bribe the correct official...
""Yes, and if your grandmother would have had wheels, she would have been a locomotive, LOL."
Typical Fisted response--no logic, no common sense."
Youe don't realize that my sentence was dripping with sarcasm, hehe. It was the appropriate answer to your idiotic statements.
It's good to show appreciation by buying the content you are looking at online, but what about the poor people who can't afford to buy it? Whenever I download "illegal" content, I always rationalize it by saying that I pay for my internet connection, so it is the content provider's job to get in touch with my internet provider and get their money from him. Cable TV providers do it like that, why can't internet content providers do it? If you want to sell and not give away for free your content, then you should have a contract with the internet providers. Most people are happy to give away for free their content, and I personally will not buy any content. I am already paying for internet service and that's all I want to be paying for. Anything additional--they can keep it, I get enough of everything for free. If I can't get it for free, then I go to the library and borrow it for free. I see no point in owning books or movies. I read a book once, or see a film once, and never want to see it again. The few books worth owning--and they are very few--I buy.
You have a point Nelly...though the problem with chitanka.info i guess was that they didn't care at all about any legal issues. In libraries there is control over all the materials that can be borrowed, the deadlines , and also you are not suppose to reproduce anyting. Once it is legalized the authors who have their books, dvds, etc in any kind of library are supposed to get some kind of...lets call it salary from the government or the institution that runs the library..if they don't want of course they can give their works to be borrowed for free but still - the authors have the right to know what is going on with their work. In civilized countries there are many ways to control and compensate the authors and publishers for their rights - by collecting taxes from the manufacturers of reproductive devices and holders - photo copy machines, cd's dvd's and so on for instance. Unfortunately in Bulgaria nobody does it though we have a nice law for the copyright issues and stuff...the government doesn't care. So thats is why I find it hardly offensive to me personally when I heard that chitanka.info is closed and prosecuted and everybody still downloads for free from Arena and Zamunda...not to mention that pornography is illegal in Bulgaria and those torrent site are full of it..but of course cable and digital tv providers also have 24hours porn chanels but this is another issue i guess...anyway i agree with ms Kostova, maybe she is a little too passionate and extreme some times but in general i agree - we need to learn to support art and understand that the act of buying a cd a book a dvd is an act of showing our appreciation to the people who created this product.
""Wow, that's smart. Call it a bicycle and the parking problems of your car are solved. It's all just a matter of semantics."
Not if your bicycle is as big as a car and is illegally parked."
Yes, and if your grandmother would have had wheels, she would have been a locomotive, LOL.
"Wow, that's smart. Call it a bicycle and the parking problems of your car are solved. It's all just a matter of semantics."
Not if your bicycle is as big as a car and is illegally parked.
On the other hand, why can you borrow paper books from the library for free but you can't read e-books free of charge? I borrow books on tape and all sorts of DVDs free from my local library. Why not e-books? I don't get it. It is one of these mysterious lapses of logic and common sense.
Yes, it is Gutenberg, not Guttenberg, as I misspelled it. I acknowledge and own my spelling error.
How about paper libraries lending out books to people for free? Are all those library books in the public domain as well? Why is it OK for paper books to be read for free but not OK for e-books? Why must e-books be in the public domain before they can be read free of charge? It makes NO sense.
I borrow DVDs free of charge out of my local library, yet it is a crime to download a film from the internet. Again, it makes NO sense. You could argue that the library paid for that DVD or for that book, but it paid only once and hundreds of people get to see it for free. Hundreds of people get to read a library book for free.