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Watching newly released movies at home in pirated DVDs has become such a depressing trend in Atlanta that many Indian owned video stores are going out of business. Pirated DVDs of brand new Indian movies are sold at various Indian stores for just $2 or $3, a mere fraction of the price for an original DVD, which may be priced at $20 to $30.
In the past couple of years, more than three video stores went out of business and many are on the verge of closing down. One among them is a video store in Decatur, GA. The demand for original DVDs is so low that the shop-owner, who does not wish to be named says, “I cannot afford to stay in the business any longer and to make ends meet, I work part time”. After five years in the business, the store is running a closeout sale and the store will be closed by May 2011. Commenting on the plight of his business, the storeowner stresses that selling or buying pirated DVDs for a few dollars is stealing and it’s sad that even prominent Atlanta Indians do the sin.
Another Atlanta video storeowner who wants to remain anonymous says, “ Even long time regular customers who have been buying original DVDs are now asking for the $3 variety”.
He says, "I am still in business because of my store location and loyal customers even from other communities like American, African-American, Mexican and Chinese. There is great demand these days for music CDS for Bollywood themed parties."
He predicts, "Five years from now, there will be no original video/DVD store,” adding, “Things have come to such a state that even a prominent Atlanta video/DVD wholesaler who distributed to all Indian video/DVD stores in the city has fallen prey to the trend, affecting his business drastically.”
A customer, who once bought original DVDs to watch with her family on their home-theater system but has succumbed to the pirated version, says, “when you get a free DVD with the purchase of groceries, you feel that you have paid for it”. And yes, she is aware that those free DVDs are pirated ones.
When given a suggestion that she could rent original DVDs for a few bucks, the answer was- but you get to keep the pirated DVDs. And she remarks, when one store started to give away free pirated DVDs to lure in customers, many other stores caved in to do the same within a few months, in the name of being competitive.
"Such attitudes are very common", observes the Decatur storeowner. He adds, "Seeing movies in pirated DVDs is ethically and legally wrong".
Adds the Norcross storeowner, “Movie producers are themselves to blame for the rampant piracy. They don’t release their movies on DVD even after six months of the movie’s release. Not everybody can spend $10 to watch a movie in the theater. And when the movie is eventually released on DVD, it is embellished with extra shots, interviews etc and steeply over priced. People will not wait six months to watch a movie and then pay $30 for a DVD.”
“If the producers release their movies on DVD faster and cheaper, that in itself is incentive for people to buy an original,” he adds. “People will not mind waiting a month to watch a new release and pay around $10 to watch it with their family.”
The Decatur store owner's plea to the shop owners who sell or distribute free pirated DVDs is to stop piracy. Instead he advises them to open their own original video aisle within their store to sell or rent original DVDs for a low price. This way the catch-22 situation could become a win-win scenario for everyone, from movie producers to video storeowners; and more importantly for Indian