Magazines, tiny firecrackers, small gadgets (like pens that write with invisible ink, water sprays, etc), and self-compiled CDs are among some things that are sold to students by students. “Guys from different classes come to me and request me to burn stuff onto CDs and tell me they’ll pay me for it,” said Majid S.,” a 17-year-old student in Dubai.
He said that most of his ‘clients’ are those who do not own a high-speed internet connection so it’s inconvenient for them to download large files.
“Dh10 is nothing if you compare Dh50 for a music CD in Virgin Megastore or new console games that are over Dh100. They’re (kids) willing to pay for it (self-compiled CDs),” he said. He takes requests from students for TV shows, games and music, compiles them onto a disc and charges Dh10 per CD.
But this simple business among classmates is actually a serious offence, according to Scott Butler, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at the Arabian Anti-Piracy Alliance (AAA). “Piracy is a crime punishable by jail term.” he said. He believes this is the only way to teach offenders a lesson, imposing fines doesn’t suffice.
“Downloading content and distributing it among public is a form of theft. You are selling something that does not belong to you for personal gain,” said Butler.
The AAA represents international motion pictures studios and Butler said that this causes problems to makers in their respective countries.
“The impact of piracy has a huge effect on the economic structure of these studios because they make a lot of investments in their content such as packaging and distribution,” he said. He also added that content not allowed for viewers under the age of 18 is usually distributed with conformity to audience age restrictions as per law. “You never know just what those CDs passed around by kids contain,” he said.
Some students skip school breaks and shell out their lunch money to get hold of their favourite shows.
A 14-year-old Kirti Thakwani is a regular who buys episodes of popular series, Gossip Girl, Vampire Diaries and other titles. “I don’t see this as wasting money. Daddy gives me and bro Dh5 when my mom is too tired to make sandwiches for school. I save what’s left of my canteen money to pay for the CDs,” she said. But her reason for exchanging money for CDs is because she doesn’t have the time to keep track of the latest episodes nor does she have enough space on her computer to save them.
“I want to get those 1 terabyte (TB) hard disc drives. Daddy has been thinking about getting us one since we need it. When he buys one, I think I’ll stop the CD requests,” she said.
During surprise inspections, where student prefects are assigned to go from class to class and confiscate items not permitted in school, students use innovative ways to conceal their possessions around the classroom.
“There’s one or two guys in other classes who tell us when there’s a check up on the same day so we can hide our things. It’s even better when one of the friendly prefects check our class because they’re lenient and pretend they didn’t find anything even if they see something sticking out,” said Majid.
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