Bootleg DVDs are a common business in Cayman, with entire stores dedicated to copying and selling movies. Those businesses are preparing for the worst, however, now that bootlegging media is illegal under the new copyright law that went into effect June 30.
DVD cases line the shelves in stores from West Bay to the eastern districts. Some stores sell the original, legal disks, but will also make copies.
At one store on Wednesday, a clerk said the original movies were $25, but a copied version of a new release was $7. The going rate for a copied movie at most stores is $5, duplicated to a blank DVD with the title written in Sharpie pen.
At a store in George Town, a clerk said her co-worker was looking for a new job, expecting the DVD store to be forced to shut down now that the new copyright regime is in force. At another store, clerks and managers did not know the new copyright law came into force at the end of last week.
The Copyright (Cayman Islands) Order 2015, passed last year and put into effect at the end of June, replaces the United Kingdom Copyright Act 1956, written well before the advent of digital movies or the Internet. The new legislation is the local version of the U.K.’s modernized 1988 Copyright Act, which has been updated several times to keep pace with technology.
Copyright enforcement can happen in two ways, said Sophie Davies, an attorney with HSM specializing in intellectual property. Either copyright holders can complain and get court permission to seize bootlegged goods, or the Department of Commerce and Investment can investigate people for violating copyright rules, like the DVD stores.
Clerks at the DVD stores interviewed for this story did not want to be named, and store owners contacted by the Cayman Compass did not return calls or messages requesting comment. The Department of Commerce and Investment also did not respond to requests for comment by press time.
Ms. Davies said the new law “widens the scope and makes it clearer.”
Cayman’s new copyright rules make it illegal to sell or possess illegal copies of movies, music or other copyrighted works. The law also makes it illegal to possess equipment meant to copy DVDs or CDs. It is also now illegal for radio stations and businesses, such as bars, to play music without a commercial license.
Under the new law, the Department of Commerce and Investment is in charge of enforcing copyright rules. The department can make test purchases and enter a property to “inspect and seize goods and documents.”
The department’s enforcement officers have the powers of a constable under the Police Law to investigate copyright infringement.