The Lord of the Rings:The fellowship of the Ring.will be on television any day,and it’s already out on video-that’s if your in the Cook Islands,where the film is available on pirated video before the movie has made it to the local cinema.
That thriving business in pirated videos and dvds in the south pacific means about 600 inhabitants of Atiu,a volcanic island half the size of rarotonga,will soon geta lounge-roomshowing of the first film in Peter Jackson’s epic trilogy.
Former policeman Piho Rua,owner of four video rental shops in Rarotonga,is reportedly considering selling copies of The Fellowship of the Ring to Atiu Television and two other television stations on the outer islands. He already rents out LOTR videos for $5 a night.Locals says he owns 100 pirate copies of the film which is in constant rotation.Roadshow Films,the New Zealand distributors of LOTR,are considering taking legal action but said it was too early to comment further.
Because of antiquated copyright Laws in the Cook Islands,pirating videos is not illegal,Before films even make it to the cinema they are usually available on video and often shown by the islands nation’s six television stations,some of which are nothing more than a basic monitor,transmitter and antenna serving as few as 200 people.
The herald was unable to contact Mr Rua but he told the Cook Islands Herald he was not the only businessman making money from pirated films,just the only one who admitted to it.Cook Islands Copyright Commitee chairman Geoffry Bergin,who leads a lonely campaign to protect intellectual property,described the 1962 Copyright Act as a” toothless tiger”because it did not safegaurd new technologies,such as DVD’s,CD’s and videos.
A new act was drafted five years ago but has yet to be made law. New Zealand Motion Picture Association spokesman Kevin Holland said if the Cook Islands Government passed legislation in line with copyright laws in New Zealand and Australia,they would provide support for the local police and customs officials.But untill they that happens their is little that can be done to punish those who make use of the loophole ,especially for Cook Islanders,who rely on pirated films and television shows for much of their entertainment,do not complain.
Years of watching incomplete films with barely audible dialogue-often recorded off cinema screens with handy cams-has taught residents not to expect too much.Cook Island Television owner George Pitt,who does not air films untill the cinema and video shops have had a crack at them,says their is no political will to clamp down on dodgy DVD screenings of Hollywood’s latest offerings because voters like watching TV.”What else is their to do on the outer islands?”.