Friday 30 January 2009

The Voice - Dear Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice

I was in a DVD rental store recently and noticed that some of the DVDs they were renting said “Not for rental” on the boxes. Also many of the covers of the DVDs were obviously very poor quality photocopies. When I asked the staff they said to ignore it and couldn't explain why the sign was there. I left the store and went shopping but when I passed by the store later the manager came out and accosted me. He demanded to know why I had been in his shop. I explained that I had wanted to rent a DVD. I asked him about the DVDs and he told me that I had been on private property, that I had been trespassing and that it was none of my business.

What can be done?

What we can do is investigate. We'll send one of our mystery shoppers to the store and we'll publish what we find on our web site.

However, the first thing YOU can do is tell everyone you know that this is a store that is renting pirated DVDs. You can tell your friends, relatives and neighbours that sooner or later this store is going to be prosecuted.

You don't believe me, do you? When was the last time you heard of anyone being prosecuted for copyright infringement in Botswana? When did you last hear of a company that sold pirated DVDs or software being dragged before the courts?

Last week!

On 20th January two owners of Micro IT, a local IT company, were convicted of criminal copyright infringement for selling pirated copies of Microsoft Windows XP and Office 2003. Micro IT was one of many little local IT companies that sell home-made and cheap PCs and laptops at unbelievably low costs. They achieve the low costs by not including the basic software with the computers they sell. The software would be sold to you illegally for a small fee after you bought the PC.

They got caught out by being stung by an undercover shopper from Microsoft. Microsoft and other big companies do this increasingly often and people and stores who sell pirated goods need to watch out.

It's not just the big guns who can do this, it's people like Consumer Watchdog and The Voice. If you sell pirated goods, you better be careful. That next shopper browsing your shelves might be the last customer you have before a trip to prison!

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