Cubanet wonders whether the normalization of relations between the U.S. and Cuba will be the beginning of the end for a major industry on the island — the piracy of North American entertainment.

Currently, pretty much all American music, films and television shows (as well as software) consumed on the island is done so without compensation to those who produced it. Not that the Cubans have much choice. The embargo applies to entertainment products the same as everything else made in the U.S.A.

U.S. shows that pop up on official Cuban television outlets like Cubavision and Telerebelde are surreptitiously snatched off satellites and aired without regard to copyright or ownership. Content not deemed suitable for local consumption by government censors is hand-carried to the island on flash drives or DVDs — a product known on the island as “el paquete semanal” or “the weekly package” — and sold in makeshift stalls or traded among friends and neighbors.

Cubans who rely on the package for income or diversion fret about the possibility of losing it (sales of pirated material are openly tolerated and even taxed by the the government) in the face of normalized relations. Said one vendor: it’s a win-win for the Cuban government because it could ban sales of the package, further restricting people’s access to foreign ideas, under the pretext of being forced to comply with intellectual property laws.



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