09 Jul2012

More Logo-Napping? :(

by Marketman

I know, I know, I sound like a broken record. And I won’t even get hot and bothered. I am just posting these photos to put them on record on the world wide web, after trying to reach both businesses, and only successfully reaching one of them. The first one, a chicharon purveyor up top… One of our employees brought me this wrapper and said the pig had a remarkable resemblance to Zubuchon’s logo. Not only remarkable, it seems to be exactly the same. Proportionally an exact copy or replica, in our opinion. The color has changed, it’s now orange and the name of the company is different, but definitely the same. So I called the company myself this morning, and the bottom line is, they have verbally promised to stop using the packaging and logo that features this pig starting tomorrow. They claimed they just copied it from the internet. Yup. Frankly, I doubt if they even understood that copying was a problem at all, but more on that on my broader commentary below. Hopefully, Ydros Crispy Chicharon will feature a different logo starting tomorrow. And I appreciate their response to the request to stop using the logo.

A vigilant reader saw this flyer in Ilocos and sent me a picture by email. Again, the pig logo looks familiar. We have tried to contact the company but the number seems to have either changed or is out of service. The reader who sent this to me did send a follow up email saying it seems the flyers and ads seem to have disappeared, so I am hoping that problem simply solved itself. Many thanks to “b_f” for the heads up, I do appreciate it. Marketmanila readers are the best “protectors” of our brand.

From James in Leyte, he sent a photo of a local meat shop using our logo as well. The pig was the same as ours. It was a newly opened meatshop, but since there was no telephone number on the signage, we weren’t able to give them a call. Thanks to James for that photo.

—————

I have railed against logo-napping before, more comprehensive posts here and here, and that business went out of business rather quickly I might add, then there was this case here, which was another chicharon manufacturer in Carcar, that our lawyers spoke to and after one phone call, they too promised to stop using the logo.

My broader question is, after talking to some of these folks myself, I really begin to wonder what the root causes of rampant copying are…

1. Is it a lack of basic EDUCATION? Are kids no longer taught that copying is wrong? That stealing (an item or idea) is a wrong? And that doing so may have consequences?

2. Is it a lack of basic ETHICS or MORALS? Everyone tells me that the vast majority of Filipinos are God-fearing and many attend church. But isn’t stealing a mortal sin?

3. Do people just NOT CARE? It’s the wild, wild west. Who cares about rules and rights?

4. Is it more correct or acceptable to do something wrong because of a differing socio-economic class? In other words, is it okay for a poorer person to steal food than it is for a richer person to do the same crime? Isn’t stealing wrong, period, regardless of what walk of life one comes from? I can fully empathize that it may be more “understandable” given extenuating circumstances, but the act of stealing is still just plain wrong, isn’t it?

And btw, “stealing” of items and ideas runs the entire gamut of the socio-economic ladder, I gather, so it isn’t a rich vs. poor issue. It’s a right vs. wrong one.

Some people have written that the Philippines, in some ways, has a damaged culture. One riddled with corruption, stealing, and other ills that seem so ingrained in many of us that it’s next to impossible to root out. My issue is more micro than that. If people no longer understand what is just basic right or wrong, then yes, we have a really big national problem that will take several generations to correct.

Oh, and one last thing. The reaction of the person I spoke to on the phone this morning was something like this “Why are you getting so high blood about stealing?”… Hello, if her prized heirloom necklace handed to her by a dying grandmother and which she wore everyday for good luck was forcibly RIPPED OFF her neck and stolen by a thief who attacked her on the sidewalk and that thief was subsequently apprehended and she went face to face with him at the local precinct, how do you think she would feel if the thief said “Why are you getting all high blood at me just because I stole your dopey necklace?”… Hay naku. Thank goodness I actually have chronically low blood pressure. Because on days like this one, it goes up to normal. :)

P.S. Do any of you techies out there know of a way to request Google Images to take down our logos so that it is a LITTLE bit more difficult for folks to simply lift it off of the internet? Your help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

 

COMMENTS:

  1. Sunset Goddess Manila says:

    Market Man, I just came from Cebu for the weekend and I made sure to try Zubuchon! The lechon was so yummy–it exceeded my expectations :) Will blog about it soon! We had lunch at the Escario branch and good thing we reserved our 3 kilos of fresh lechon to be picked up at the airport while we were still in the restaurant. Thanks to your branch’s Henry for being so helpful and accommodating :) When we got to the airport, the only ones left were the frozen lechon—so good thing Henry called ahead for us to reserve our fresh lechon. Thank you! Will be sure to try out the bigger restaurant opening along Escario the next time I go back to Cebu ;)

    Jul 9, 2012 | 2:06 pm

     
  2. melody says:

    Jul 9, 2012 | 2:37 pm

     
  3. Marketman says:

    melody, thank you very much for that, now I just have to understand how to follow the instructions… :)

    Jul 9, 2012 | 2:42 pm

     
  4. millet says:

    oh, and that chicharon is almost right in your backyard! The nerve!

    Jul 9, 2012 | 3:00 pm

     
  5. Andrew says:

    Lack of quality education is a major reason I suppose, in our country people still fail to see what’s wrong with stealing intangible property. From their perception there was no real loss on the part of the owner since there’s no physical asset to speak off. Sadly, the concept of rightful ownership of intangible property is still alien to most of our countrymen :(

    Then there’s also just a general lack of a sense of morality / ethics. It’s just really sad when you hear fellow Filipinos say “Bawal lang pag nahuli” (Only illegal if you get caught) which is such a sickening mentality.

    Jul 9, 2012 | 3:47 pm

     
  6. Joey in Dubai says:

    I suppose it’s lack of proper education and the fact that corruption, dishonesty, and the art of “palusot” are so endemic in our culture. You can count by your fingers who among Filipinos follow the adage “Ignorance of the law excuses no one”. The impeached chief justice is a poster boy for this who-cares attitude of Filipinos towards the law. I cringed when he answered “di po natin alam yang debit-credit na yan…di naman po ako accountant”. That’s coming from somebody who worked at SGV. Pinoys are so used to kung pwede naman mangopya, bakit hindi? If you can beat the red light with no one seeing you, why not? If you have the money to bribe, why not? It seems that our children are no longer taught to be “law-abiding citizens”, but rather given tips on how-to-skirt-the-law-without-really-trying.

    Jul 9, 2012 | 4:28 pm

     
  7. Cheryl says:

    this only means one thing, the best ang Zubuchon!

    Jul 9, 2012 | 6:44 pm

     
  8. MP says:

    Copying is rampant here because no one bothers to give the “copier” hell when he is caught doing so. No one gets punished for doing the wrong thing so we keep doing it. Remember Ellen, the one who said it was OA of you to make an issue of the 18-year old brat’s horrible accusations? We have so many Ellens in this country that’s why we have as many bratty Vinces and Ydroses…

    Jul 9, 2012 | 7:19 pm

     
  9. rvinno says:

    I don’t know MM, but your logo in this site does not come out on google searches. I know because I tried “getting” a logo from your site to put on my speed dial homepage, (bookmarked blog of yours of course), I ended up taking a screenshot na lang…

    I don’t know how you did it, but you probably can do the same on your zubuchon logo?

    Jul 9, 2012 | 10:43 pm

     
  10. psychomom says:

    i think that the moral compass most Filipinos have has just eroded through generations of having to survive. the sense of right and wrong is just different. so for example, putting 100 peso bill in together with your driver’s license is just the “norm.” so the “palusot” system works because no “harm” was actually done. i agree with andrew above that “intangible” property such as intellectual property is even harder to grasp since you can not wrap your hands around it to claim ownership. education consistent with lifestyle change (walking the talk) through several generations might do the trick though.

    Jul 9, 2012 | 11:26 pm

     
  11. SuR-USA says:

    I wouldn’t be so fast As to attribute copying as endemically Filipino or as actions dictated by “morals”. I posit that markets are, for the most part, amoral. Even in the most educated hamlets of the globe. exhibit A: the current and on-going fight between apple and Samsung (and among others) for starters, on infringement of intellectual property. (and the not so recent spites between apple and windows that seemed to have quietly subsided decades ago…) (exhibit B: china and fake goods, exhibit C: recent wallstreet on ‘amorality’ but that is a separate discussion… ;-).

    I know this to be an insufficient consolation but an observation based on the cases above: the dominant players in markets (or the perceived/acknowledged/most visible leaders and drivers in an ascendant market sector) can invariably count on being copied in one respect or another; your logo in this case (but I think your product concepts as well). Sadly, the only remedy, short of hiring the mafia to read them the riot act is a generous, nay infinite, legal fund. But even that has proved, at least in apple’s case, in large measure, ineffective.

    Jul 9, 2012 | 11:54 pm

     
  12. tonceq says:

    The fact that you can call this generation the C&P (Copy and Paste) generation does not help. the standards of our children’s daily schoolwork have been so lax (to say the least) lately that they are only introduced to the concept of “Plagiarism” come their college years. And don’t get me started on those fairy tales which probably contributed in misdirecting the moral compass of this era’s generation… like how stealing can be justified by one’s personal reasons (aka Robin Hood/Jack and the Beanstalk) or how Good is always supposed to look pretty and handsome while being UGLY (or slightly less attractive) directly translates to being EVIL. but I have overplayed my last premise, let us remember that there a two sides to a story and I have only presented one… here I go rambling again… :)

    Jul 10, 2012 | 3:42 am

     
  13. marilen says:

    I agree with psychomom, MM, moral compass certainly gone. Still it is good you are going after the counterfeiters.

    Jul 10, 2012 | 8:14 am

     
  14. Dencio says:

    I agree with Sur-USA 100%.
    Let us not look at our culture only, for the same holds true anywhere in the world. And may I add to Sur-USA’s examples, a more rampant yet easily ignored form of “stealing” – MP3!

    Jul 10, 2012 | 9:28 am

     
  15. Marketman says:

    Dencio and Sur-USA, I absolutely concur that it happens elsewhere as well. Absolutely. However, as I live in the Philippines, my current focus is local, and things definitely seem to have deteriorated in the past twenty years or so… but that’s an opinion. Objective measures would have to include statistics… which I should really hunt down sometime…

    Jul 10, 2012 | 10:16 am

     
  16. ranny ace says:

    if your logo is not yet a trademark o patent registered they have the right to use the logo, same problem with the use of rivermaya band name manager vs members

    Jul 10, 2012 | 11:47 am

     
  17. boopsie says:

    maybe you should incorporate your trade name zubuchon on the trademark/logo.

    Zubuchon on the body of the big would make it more distinctive and harder to copy.
    And less a less generic looking pig because its Branded na.

    of course you still get to keep using your old logo as well

    Jul 10, 2012 | 2:39 pm

     
  18. Mart says:

    Or you can view it as the glass is half-full; as the idiom goes, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”. But I doubt that flattery was their intention.

    I think it is disingenuous to compare logo-napping with stealing a one-of-a-kind heirloom. If they registered and trademarked the logo and prevented you from legally using it yourself, that would be similar to the heirloom heist.

    And why should one be surprised about such behavior in the Philippines? Not one of the tv afternoon soaps or movies have a single original thought. They always copy their ideas from some other US show. (Well, maybe there is an original thought or two, like a needle in a haystack.)
    People buy pirated DVDs and aren’t bothered about it.
    A lot of people pirate music, movies, tv shows, games, etc. from the internet. Before the internet, there was Greenhills.
    People buy fake branded jeans and purses just to sport the name.
    People also used record music on their tape recorders (when tape recorders were hi-tech back then). Everyone knows what a “mixed tape” is.
    Remember the spiral notebooks with the faces of the famous actors and actresses of their time? Yes, I know. My age is showing.

    I sincerely doubt that anyone’s hands are spotless.

    And patents are the bane of mankind. Patents do protect economic interests but at the expense of stifling the advancement of technology by depriving access to it.
    I won’t go further into that debate. You can Google the arguments for or against.
    Same goes for the music and television industry and their outdated business model. You can Google about that too.

    And how about the colonizers who’ve stolen the land from underneath the natives who had no concept of land ownership (and depending on the natives, some don’t even have a concept of “ownership” at all) before the “white men” came?

    How about that t-shirt company that does parodies of company logos? Is that still “fair use” if you profit from the t-shirt sales? Anyone still remember Weird Al Yankovic?

    You can find sound arguments for or against. I wouldn’t go so far to say that it is good or evil. Everything is a mixed shade of gray. In fact, it might even be somewhere around fifty shades of gray. (groan)
    There is good, there is evil and then there is circumstance. In the cases mentioned above, it is more ignorance than malice intended. I would venture to guess that they would not have reacted the same way MarketMan has if they had a logo and someone else copied it. But then again they could have a double standard and feel irked about it too I guess.

    In my honest opinion, getting high-blood about logo-napping is not worth it. But that’s just me. If you have money to blow and time on your hands, go for it. I certainly don’t have both. Come to think of it, I don’t have a logo either. :-)

    Jul 10, 2012 | 2:42 pm

     
  19. Mart says:

    I just remembered another example.
    Xeroxing books from the school library or from a classmate because the aren’t enough books for the students to borrow or the students couldn’t afford the actual book.

    The students photocopying the books could be the criminals. That’s one way of looking at it. Or the school library could the complicit it providing a photocopying machine for library members to use (and the price gouging for each page copied!). Or the way society just is that makes families so poor that they can’t afford to go legit and actually pay for their books.

    If you really want to try to understand the root of it, you have to go deeper. Peel away the layers upon layers upon layers. There is more than meets the eye. (Transformers.)

    Anyway, looking forward to follow-up posts and lively conversation in this thread the next morning (it is currently 12:02 am and I still have to catch some Zzzs and get to work in a few hours).

    Jul 10, 2012 | 3:04 pm

     
  20. Marketman says:

    ranny ace and boopsie, yes, our logo, the pig, zubuchon, and zubufoods are REGISTERED and have received their final certificate of registration after a nearly two year process, so we do down the logo and the brand name, for now. :) Mart, I agree with a lot of your sentiments, but I disagree as looking at it in shades of grey, a lot of it is black and white for me, and it should be for most folks.

    Pirated dvd’s are wrong. That’s stealing intellectual property. That people buy them and aren’t bothered about them is another issue. But to me, it’s still black.

    Pirated movies, music etc. from the internet is also technically wrong. Black to me.

    People who counterfeit branded goods are doing something wrong. People who buy them encourage the wrongdoing.

    As for copying texts for educational purposes, I think most publishers would tacitly not consider that a violation of copyright law, particularly if used only by the student for a specific class purpose. However, personally, I think photocopying a whole book without permission is wrong. Black to me. Selling a photocopied book without permission and without sending a royalty to the publisher is definitely wrong, as you have a clear commercial gain at the expense of the authors and publishers.

    Finally, I have struggled with this one question. Technically, you must pay a royalty for music played in your restaurant, I know that. I have actually tried to locate where I might do that but have been unsuccessful. My solution was to buy legitimated CD’s and play them in-house, though I suspect I may be violating a law, but am willing to pay royalty if appropriate. I am not sure if playing the radio would have the same requirements.

    I understand that not everyone has clean hands, but that DOESN’T in any way change whether it is right or wrong. Just whether we tolerate it or not. Gray or grey for many folks is a situation born out of an inability to insist on the concept of right or wrong.

    I am nearly 50 years old, and have driven in Manila for MANY YEARS. And I have NEVER EVER given a cop a payment so that they would let off the hook for a minor traffic violation. I either clearly argue my position if I think I did no wrong, or I tell them to write me a ticket. If everyone followed this policy, then maybe they wouldn’t be complaining about such instances… Finally, as a general note to all, I think one of our lawyers once said that I should NEVER give up my license to a cop… there are very few legal instances where he has a right to confiscate your license. He has a right to give you a ticket, but not necessarily garnish your license. I hope lawyers can chime in on this… I found it to be an interesting concept…

    Not everyone can afford to always do the right thing. But isn’t still the best policy to do it as much as possible? Letting the little things slip is what gets us in trouble eventually. For me, I try to watch economic impact of my actions. If it affects another party, it’s really something to be concerned about. We all have our personal lines of right or wrong, I simply think the line has slid further and further down a slippery slope.

    Jul 10, 2012 | 3:34 pm

     
  21. Katrina says:

    I don’t have the time right now to write everything I’d like to say about this topic (which is, as is typical of me, A LOT! ;-)), but I just want to concur with much of what Sur-USA, Mart and Dencio said. I’m so glad, MM, that you don’t think that it’s a uniquely Filipino thing. I find it exceedingly sad that we Filipinos are so quick — eager, even — to denigrate our culture and countrymen, as if it were only here that corruption and crime flourish. It was not THAT long ago that we were justifiably proud of ourselves, so I refuse to say it’s endemic or inherent to our culture. However, I do agree that it has become much more common today — something which one could also say about many other countries.

    In this specific instance, my point of view is that it is not really because of a lack of moral compass or a degeneration of ethics, but lack of education. Concepts such as intellectual property, copyrights, and trademarks are just not well-known here. If you look at the literally countless examples of copying here — some of which are within fair use, some not — it is understandable why most do not perceive it as stealing at all. For them, taking your logo from the internet and using it however they want (clearly illegal) is the same as, say, copying a recipe (which is not legally protected). They see no difference between the two.

    Having said that, ignorance of the law is no excuse, so I definitely think you should continue to pursue those who violate it. After all, the only way for people to learn it’s wrong, is to be taught so. And as you said, we should ALL, no matter how many others don’t, always try to do the right thing. In this case, though, I think doing the right thing includes giving the violators the benefit of the doubt, and dealing with them gently, albeit firmly. :-)

    Well…it looks like I still said a lot, after all. Can’t help it! :-D I want to thank you for this thread, MM. Your blog constantly gives us readers not just gastronomical, but intellectual stimulation. :-)

    Jul 10, 2012 | 6:04 pm

     
  22. Getter Dragon 1 says:

    Closer to home, I alerted a graphic designer friend of a simillar instance of logo napping and emailed him the offending attachment. He quickly posted it on his FB and got some responses. When people asked, including myself, if we should contact the people in question, his reply was simply ‘talking my idea is like the old lady taking an empty aluminum can my recycling bin’.

    I too agree with recent posts of corruption not only existing in the Philippines, but all over the globe. The difference though is that corruption simply exists because it has become entrenched within the social fiber. Therefore it has been institutionalized, accepted and even celebrated. Sadly such beliefs carry over to Fil-Ams here in the US. If you ask, say an Afghan, Vietnamese or an Indian person here about corruption in their homeland, they will often tell you that it is one of the main reasons for why they moved away from there. If you ask a Filipino, they will generally acknowledge corruption and/or instances of it. But if the conversation changes about going home for example, you’ll hear ‘advice’ about how to get ahead, how much to pay, who to meet, what to do if…that kind of thing. Talk about the slippery slope.

    That said, I see many comments about ‘education’. But really, what about it? I think we need to define what exactly education is and how its supposedly makes for a better person. HIstory has shown that even the most educated can be the most corrupt. On the flipside (no pun intended), there are also instances of people who are college dropouts who have made it big. Welcome to Silicon Valley.

    But getting back to the subject at hand and I do also believe that we have a ‘damaged’ culture. Logo-napping is just symptomatic of that. I do believe that we have a skewed belief about ‘imitation is the best form of flattery’. There are many examples of this all over the Philippines. I often chuckle when I watch press conferences from the presidential palace and notice how the emblem of Malacanang bears a striking resemblence to that of the White House. On another level, I remember reading rebuttals on court cases on how the Philippine legal system is closely modeled (‘patterned’) after the US. That may be the case, but in practice, it seems to be something else. More telenovela that courtroom proceedings if you ask me. And that’s another! Filipinos wear alot of things on their sleeves or live vicariously through other people (often celebrities). I remember this because of the ‘God fearing’ comment. In fact, Filipinos are largely ignorant of their faith and have poor understanding of their Catechism. Filipinos are good at ‘practicing’ their faith, but really don’t know how to live it. I think most find themselves at odds of practicing their faith and living in the 21st century. This is one of those ‘many layers’ of how corruption has insitutionalized itself because of our core Christian belief of forgiveness and that God will take care of us. But how we forget that we are all instruments of God and not God himself. I remember an instance where a fellow took the parking space of one of our parish priest and then found himself boxed in. I was serving mass at the time as an usher and a colleague alerted me to this. The fellow asked if I can ask the priest to move his car (though the parking space was clearly marked as reserved). Right off the bat, I knew that because he has offended himself, that perhaps he may be forgiven. You know that sweet voice, calling me ‘bro’, that kind of thing. To make a long story short, I became disgusted and out of spite, but yet took advantage of a teaching moment, simply looked at him and said, ‘you’ll hafta wait’.

    And that’s another. Pragmatism isn’t a value in Philippine culture. In fact, I think its even derided. There are examples of this throughout the entertainment. Like in the US made, ‘The Debut’. The character of the grandfather, though respected, his views of studying hard to become something is in sharp contrast to the Filipino belief of ‘living in the moment’. Simillarly in Philippine cinema, how many countless stories are there about classism and the ends justify the means. But it what it comes down to is the children. Because if the adults continue to accept such practices, minor/major, then it is accepted as normal. I know of this because eventhough there are second and third generation Filipinos here in the US, many of them go home to not necessarily visit, but to take advantage. At the same time, this view of corruption and its symptoms continue to plague both sides of the Pacific and further makes us the joke of our Asian neighbors.

    Jul 11, 2012 | 3:44 am

     
  23. Christina says:

    Graphic designer here. There’s a lot I’d like to say, but I’ll just throw in two cents for now, from my perspective.

    The internet and desktop publishing has made it extremely easy to copy creative property. It’s an issue of our time, and very much a global one. I agree with the posters who said this is not a problem unique to the Filipino character. It’s become more common because technology has opened up a world of free, shared information (in a lot of ways positive, like being able to use images from WikiCommons or share open source coding). I’ve definitely encountered the negative sort of visual property theft while working in New York, in surprising places.

    It’s illegal, but hard to enforce, unless the copying is really blatant (which it surely is in your case, MM. That little outlined pig is quite distinctive.)

    But to me as a designer, more to the point is not that it isn’t ethical, but that it just isn’t effective to copy someone else’s branding. It’s a weak voice.

    I imagine that’s not very comforting to you MM, as an entrepreneur that has put the work into developing your own brand, but by default anyone copying your logo already has a less strong “brand”. None of the examples I’ve seen of the Zubuchon logo knockoffs communicate with the clarity and voice that the original does.

    And I don’t think anyone would actually confuse the products, based on how these look. It’s still frustrating though, I can imagine.

    Jul 11, 2012 | 4:50 am

     
  24. Tercer says:

    Some here commented and many concurred that if we look at other societies we will find that they too suffer some of the same ills as our society and culture, even lamenting the ineffectiveness of any legal measure in those supposedly more capable societies. Truly it is sad that we have so much that ails us, but isn’t it just as much a relief to know what it is that ails us? Isn’t diagnosis the second step to finding treatment? The first being to recognize that we are ill. Highlighting unethical or even criminal practices of other societies’ citizens does not help us. What it does is give our people some sense of false propriety that they are not alone in their shame and thus it must be okay because those “better” societies do the same. Those who would hide in the long shadow cast by others’ mistakes are the worst offenders, for they promote fatalism, lethargy and zero progress. They have given up, surrendered their fate. They would rather just crawl into a dark corner to await whatever befalls them. So what if other countries have the same problems! You don’t hear them carping about that the Philippines have the same problems too, do you? So why don’t we focus our efforts and attention on how we can improve ourselves and lift the quality of life of our community. Just as important, those with a voice should never be silent, especially in this age of internet and social media. And for that MM I applaud your efforts.

    And by the way, Getter Dragon 1, it is illegal in US law for US citizens to knowingly be party to corruption in the US or abroad. This means a US citizen going to the Philippines and offering a bribe to a Philippine government entity is a crime.

    Jul 11, 2012 | 6:49 am

     
  25. Cecile says:

    yes, it all boils down to discipline and honesty. if only…!

    Jul 11, 2012 | 10:50 am

     
  26. j. says:

    This kind of thinking is not endemic to the Philippines or the US, for that matter. It is a prominent fixture of all cultures that have or are losing its moral compass (my own opinion on the matter). It’s the difference between being angry that the government or people isn’t doing anything to help the people, and yet electing the same officials over and over again or looking the other way when someone does something wrong. The last time I went to the Philippines, about the only place where the police did what they were supposed to be doing was in Subic, because my family [those who live in Manila and thereabouts], were stunned/shocked that the cops would not take the dollar bills that they stuffed next to their licenses… and [the police] in fact pointed that it was illegal to bribe them. I would have paid to see that, as I was in another car at the time. It is this kind of thinking that keeps many Asiatic countries backwards in economic growth. [Think the difference between Japan and it’s neighbors].

    Jul 11, 2012 | 2:58 pm

     
  27. Mart says:

    Apologies for being all over the place with my previous posts. Let’s see if I can be more focused tonight. I’ll try to explore the economics of pirated DVDs of TV shows and movies since that’s what’s been tumbling in my noggin.

    Making copies of DVDs for a profit seems black to me as well. But how about making copies where there is no apparent monetary gain? Let us see if we can “tease a little gray/grey” out of this specific case.

    In the “Betamax case” of 1984, (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sony_Corp._of_America_v._Universal_City_Studios,_Inc.) “the Supreme Court of the United States […] ruled that the making of individual copies of complete television shows for purposes of time shifting does not constitute copyright infringement, but is fair use. The Court also ruled that the manufacturers of home video recording devices, such as Betamax or other VCRs (referred to as VTRs in the case), cannot be liable for infringement.”

    So “technically” it would be perfectly legal for you to record anything broadcast on tv for your personal use. That specific circumstance would be “white”.
    How about if you have a friend over and both of you watch the time-shifted copy of the show? That would be still “white” with maybe a hint of “gray”. If you lend your friend your time-shifted copy, would that be a tad bit more “gray”?
    How about if you play the time-shifted show and have your varsity football team over of which you only have a few friends and others who you merely tolerate and others you probably couldn’t even stand being around for 10 seconds?
    Is there a specific number of people or a specific condition/group of conditions or composition of a group of people where that group of people is no longer considered a “private party” and is now a “public gathering” and would constitute a violation of “fair use” of showing the time-shifted show?
    Because the technology of the time permitted it (Betamax, VHS), is that much different from a digital copy playable on a computer and shareable via the internet (today’s existing technologies)?

    It kind of reminds me of how it was scandalous of women to show the skin of their ankles decades ago and as the years passed by, the amount of skin exposure inched on until you can now see maybe 80-90% of skin in a public performance on TV and most of the populace doesn’t find that in bad taste. Year by year, inch by inch.
    But I digress again.

    Here’s another thought exercise:
    If you planned to watch a movie that is already quite old and could sometimes be caught syndicated on a tv network but were originally planning to watch it by buying a DVD, would watching the tv show from a friend’s time-shifted copy be considered/counted as a “lost sale” or “lost revenue” for the company that owns the rights to the movie?
    Is buying a used original DVD of the movie also considered “lost revenue” for the company? (Because the profit of the second-hand original DVD certainly doesn’t end up in the company’s coffers. The person who used to own the original DVD gets your money.)
    If a couple of individuals form a club and each one buys one original unique DVD and they pass each other their DVDs in a round-robin manner of sharing, would that also be “lost revenue” for the company?
    I would imagine that if the “round-robin DVD sharing co-op” would not be bothered by the large media companies if the groups are small enough and no monetary gain would be had by pursuing those few groups. But if the group were large enough or there were so many small DVD co-ops that it did make a monetary dent on the media companies?
    Would you be bothered if the media companies lobbied for laws to make it illegal to form such co-ops? Would you be bothered if the media companies lobbied to have a “bailout” to compensate themselves for “projected lost revenue”?
    If the company tried to come up with figures/numbers to count the number of people they might have potentially lost sales to, would it be right for them to count the cases above? Could they count the people who had no intention of buying a DVD to watch the movie but, it so happened that they had a friend that had an original/time-shifted legal copy of the movie that they were still able to watch the movie?

    I don’t think that “gray or grey for many folks is a situation born out of an inability to insist on the concept of right or wrong.” I still firmly think that sometimes it is just not so black or white.

    I might even go so far to say that the insistence to not open your mind to see the various shades of gray would be akin to a religious fanatic that insists on purely divine creation and the godless scientist who can only see a Darwinist evolution and both turn a blind eye to the possibility that it could be both and somewhere in the middle of the two extremes.
    Like holding onto a “sacred cow” when you should be putting it out to pasture. Or when your cup is fill, you can’t pour any more wine into it. But I’m mixing my metaphors now.

    And then there’s the legality of one thing not always equating to its “morality”. What is legal is not always what is right. It is not always so black or white.
    Apologies but I could not think of a specific example relating to DVDs or the media industry. So I’ll just go with this example: there was a time in US history that the discrimination of people based on their skin color was perfectly legal. It was legal back then but for us living in the present, living decades and centuries after that time in the past, we have the benefit of history and hindsight to know that it clearly wasn’t/isn’t right.
    I know, not an appropriate example especially when I’m trying to focus on the specific topic of pirated DVDs.
    How about this: the “royalty” business model of the music industry? I know that royalties can be inherited. How many years (or generations) would it be right to still earn royalties from a piece of music? Would you be miffed if royalties existed in Shakespeare’s time and his ancestors alive today would still be reaping the royalty payments for each copy of his works that was still published? If it were legal, would it be right?

    Anyway, that’s all I have for now. Hopefully I’ve unburdened my brain enough and it will allow me to sleep now. Thanks MM and everyone who have shared their opinions and thought on this topic. I second the sentiments of the commenters that this blog has provided nourishing recipes and intellectual discourse; food for the body and the mind. :-)

    Jul 11, 2012 | 4:48 pm

     
  28. Elaine says:

    Jul 11, 2012 | 9:01 pm

     
  29. Christina says:

    Also want to add… in saying that this is a common issue worldwide, I was not saying that it should not be addressed in the Philippines.

    I agree that being able to name a problem is necessary to diagnose and then improve it. I didn’t mean to say that just because it happens elsewhere makes it okay when it happens in the Philippines. Definitely, some of the solution is accountability (as MM did in chasing down the logo nappers) and educating young designers that taking images from the internet isn’t professional (and IMO as a professional of 15 years, simply not very effective in getting real business for your clients through branding).

    There’s a Buddhist concept of “adding on” that can be very damaging that I’m seeing in this discussion, is why I brought up seeing the same things happen in New York.

    For example, let’s say I fight with a friend, and when I replay the situation in my head, I don’t just say: “I lost my temper, I should have listened to my friend more carefully” (true). Let’s say I “add on” something like: “I’m stupid, I’m just a bad person, I keep doing this, I’ll never change, I made a fool of myself, etc etc etc etc” (not true). In trying to make sense of a situation, sometimes we attach a lot of extra judgement that isn’t helpful or truthful. In the end, it’s a distraction.

    I feel like we Filipinos do this “add on” thing a lot, we judge ourselves very harshly. I don’t feel like it’s the same as simply acknowledging a genuine mistake, we load up on all the extra judgement and make it absolute. In the long-run, I think this damages our sense of self-worth, and how we carry ourselves in the world. It cements this idea that we are second to other societies, and that isn’t true. I know that we genuinely want better for ourselves, and maybe this is why we are so hard on ourselves when we see things that are wrong, but I think it’s counter-productive.

    That’s all I meant to address in saying this is not a problem particular to the Philippine character (which seemed like where the discussion was headed), but I see it as something that has come out of the digital revolution, and is a global issue.

    Jul 11, 2012 | 11:31 pm

     
  30. Christina says:

    And @ Elaine, very interesting stuff! That’s a whole other aspect to it — what is genuinely original? In MM’s case, this is clearly a copy-and-paste of the Zubuchon piggy.

    But even when you come up with 100% of your own ideas, take your own photos, draw your own work, it’s amazing how it can be echoed in other people’s work. Like there’s some communal brain soup out there that we tap into when we sleep or something. It can make for interesting tensions.

    I heard a story of Richard Serra (installation artist who works with distressed oversized metal wall structures) criticizing Maya Lin’s Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC, saying she had copied his style. Which was just nutty…

    Jul 11, 2012 | 11:44 pm

     
  31. Katrina says:

    WHAT CHRISTINA SAID!!!

    Jul 12, 2012 | 5:54 pm

     
  32. ka_fredo says:

    Looks like your pig logo is an “inahin” it keeps on multiplying ! I just wish you can earn from those “piglets”. :)

    Jul 13, 2012 | 2:16 am

     
  33. chay says:

    a very blatant use/misuse of a REGISTERED logo and yet to some, parang ang reaction nila is “para yun lang eh…” short of saying na ang damot mo dahil you won’t let it go. this is why we are where we are right now. sad…

    “borrowing” (read: stealing) registered trademarks/logos may be prevalent worldwide but it still does not excuse the fact that it is WRONG.

    Jul 15, 2012 | 12:05 pm

     
 

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