Copyright Laws?

Guatemala has a lot of laws. They even have laws to undue or supersede other laws. Most of what you'd expect to be illegal in the country probably is technically illegal. But just because it is "technically" against the law does not mean it is enforced. One blatant example is copyright laws. According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (and this lengthy Guatemala law), Guatemala has a clear law against making copies of protected works and that includes works copyrighted in the US. 

Here again is one of those differences from the US that seems so odd at first, but one quickly gets used to seeing it. Remember, Guatemala is a third world country. Enforcing copyright laws are not the priority. 

Is there a movie you're interested in seeing? How about a new release? The most obvious copyright transgression is seen on the streets, in stores and in the market where you can buy copies of movies. Occasionally we've seen new release movies available before they're in movie theaters in the States. Kids and adults carry backpacks full of ripped DVDs for sale. They'll stop you in the street and want you to go through their stacks of movies for sale. 

 These are the more expensive DVDs to buy because they’re in a store and nicely organized.

These are the more expensive DVDs to buy because they’re in a store and nicely organized.

My second example comes from school. It's often difficult, and very expensive, to get multiple copies of a textbook or novel to use with students. Therefore, the originals were sent to the copier and new ones were made. At first, I was shocked when I found these, but over time I even considered using them. 

  Photocopied books for a novel study and math texts

Photocopied books for a novel study and math texts

My favorite example comes from one of the gringo stores in town. Brownies are our family's favorite dessert. We probably make them once a week. One store packages their own brownie mix and sells it in an unmarked bag. Buying it from them is a lot cheaper than buying it in the commercially produced glossy box shipped from the US. Need directions on how to make them? Just ask and they'll hand you photocopy of the box from the US version. 

 Our favorite brownie mix! We shared these with several Guatemalans, and they LOVED them. Gooey brownies are not a common dessert here.

Our favorite brownie mix! We shared these with several Guatemalans, and they LOVED them. Gooey brownies are not a common dessert here.

Again, this is just one of the ways that living in a third world country is different than living in the US. 

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