Copyright Enforcement in Israel – you gott’a be kidding me…

A few weeks ago I had posted one of my usuall “Open Source License” rants, where I explained and ranted about the state of Open Source license enforcement in Israel. A recent study by the IIPA (International Intelectual Property Alliance) had positioned Israel as the number 1 copyright piracy country in the world!

When you think abuot it, it’s a little strange, as Israel is fairly small. However,  in relation to the number of Internet connected users in Israel, the number of downloads of pirated software or other copyrighted material in Israel is of the highest percentage in the world. Sure, we all download a movie or episode here and there, but, some people in Israel go about and completely utilize pirated material only. Sure, I like watching my weekly episode of Fringe, but what can I do that no network in Israel is broadcasting it. So, I download the episodes via Bittorrent and watch them as they are published. However, on the other hand, I do purchase Microsoft licenses for my PC’s (yes, I have a Windows XP and a Windows Vista box – running Windows and Office), I did purchase a Mandriva PowerPack package for my Linux destktop and notebook and yes, I did purchase my books about DOJO, PHP and AJAX – so, I can honestly say that my utilization of pirated material is that for things I can’t obtain in Israel at all.

One would argue that it is still piracy, well, there is a certain point in that – however, if there is no one to pirate from where you are located, how can you pirate something? according to the dictionary, the noun priate means:

  1. One who robs at sea or plunders the land from the sea without commission from a sovereign nation.
  2. A ship used for this purpose.
  3. One who preys on others; a plunderer.
  4. One who makes use of or reproduces the work of another without authorization.
  5. One that operates an unlicensed, illegal television or radio station.
Ok, let’s take a look at the above and examine:
  1. Considering the fact that I’m not at sea nor am I attacking from the sea, I don’t qualify for item 1.
  2. I won’t even consider number 2.
  3. I don’t prey on others to take something, the airing of a TV show in the US is well published. Hell, the TV stations even publish their content online – only available in the US however – according to item 3.
  4. Ok, I do make use personal use of another persons work without authorization, however, as there is no local representation for the show that I’m watching – that point is somewhat muted in my view – according to item 4.
  5. I don’t operate an illegal or other wise unlicensed TV or Radio station – according to item 5.
So, taking all of the above, I can be considering a small time pirate – I only pirate the shows that I like watching. What’s available here I watch on TV.
Nonetheless, I’m not arguing that copyrighted material piracy is OK – the simple reason is that people in Israel even pirate the things that don’t need to be pirated. For example, Open Source software is being exploited and resold in Israel as proprietary software. Actually, people in Israel have no idea what Open Source really means, thus, people can push whatever lame story to people.
For example, this week I went to a meeting at a small Contact Center. I went there to discuss the installation of a Recording System for the installed PBX system (I have developed one of the most robust CRM/ERP aware recording systems for Asterisk). In any case, I go to the meeting and sit down with the CEO and owner of the Contact Center. I start explaining that I’m using Asterisk, he suddenly stops me and says that he met with the CEO of a certain company, who claims that they developed Asterisk. Actually, he said that the CEO claimed that the initial idea for Asterisk was his. I was pissed off! I started explaining to the man that Asterisk is developed by Digium and it’s an Open Source product and basically, apart from Asterisk Business Edition, no-one, not even I, can sell Asterisk as is. We can create a product based on Asterisk, but we can’t sell Asterisk, nor claim it is ours. After showing the man some websites and various videos of Mark Spencer discussing Asterisk he asked me: “How can that man claim that he developed Asterisk, when it is clear that he didn’t?” – and I responded: “Because people in Israel don’t give a damn and remain ambivalent to the truth”.
I guess that is the same reason why Internet Piracy is so big in Israel. Much of the stuff we want isn’t available here in shops, so go ahead and pirate it. Once you’re used to pirating something, pirating anything simply becomes a second nature to you. I suggest that the IIPA do a better statistic and check the actual pirated content being downloaded, out of which, check how much content isn’t available in Israel in normal distribution channels – and then remove that information from the statistics. I’m confident that while the number will still be high, Israel will no longer be number 1 in the list.

You don’t mess with the Zohan! – or maybe you do…

I’ll start off with this: I Like Adam Sandler Movies, they always make me laugh. For some strange reason, Adam Sandler movies are among the few movie subject my wife and I agree on. While we watch many movies on our home theater system, Adam Sandler is one of the only things we’ll agree to see a real theater. In any case, tonight we’ve gone to see his latest one: “You Don’t Mess With the Zohan!”.

In one sentence that sums the entire movie: The movie is really funny and enjoyable. However, I’d like to address some the stereotypes and obvious misunderstanding of Israeli nature that are portrayed in the movie. First of all, the movie shows Zohan, walking around the beach of Tel-Aviv, and portraying a macho man on steroids, in our case, the ultimate Israeli soldier enjoying his vacation – while parading nude on the beach and flapping his salami all over.

Hello! We don’t do that – While it is true that Israeli men are considered somewhat rough around the edges, we don’t usually parade our personal parts on the beach. Actually, there are laws in Israel prohibiting that, no matter if you are Soldier or war hero.

Anti-Terrorist fighters are celebrities – How un-true! In Israel, anti-terrorist fighters are well kept secrets, you never see their faces. Even combat pilots are never shown on TV. According to the movie, Zohan, an anti-terrorist fighter is a well known figure in Israel and people regard him as a legend. Actually, he is so know, that even when coming to America, he can’t flee his fans who recognize him – a situation that can’t happen in real life.

In addition to the above, the Tel-Aviv beach portrayed in the movie, while truly being shot in Tel-Aviv, is not a hyper-drived version of Miami. I admit that during summer the Tel-Aviv beach is crowded and picturesque, but it is nothing like the movie portraits.

The movie continues to portray Zohan as an over dozed sex maniac, capable of performing sex with almost any female partner. In addition, this portrait is later on in the movie taken over by the character of Uri, another Israeli living in New-York – managing a would be called electronics shop. I’m very happy to say that most Israeli men don’t behave like the ones in the movie, it’s just plain silly.

Over the course of the movie, one of Israel’s national foods is being exploited all over – the Humus. For those of you who don’t know, Humus is a paste like dish, made of a mixture of Chickpeas, Sesame paste (also know as Tehina) and other herbs and spices. It is true, we love our Humus, but we don’t use it to brush our teeth, dip our glasses in it, put it in our tea or coffee – it is a good starter dish, but it doesn’t define us.

Another thing to say about the movie, is the cast. While Zohan (Adam Sandler) is the main character of the movie, other characters are portrayed by memorable actors. “The Phantom”, a Lebanese terrorist, is portrayed by John Turturro, a fairly interesting choice. While John’s comic talents had been observed over the years, his role as a terrorist, turned fast-food giant, turned show sales man is hysterical. Salim, a Lebanese farmer who’s goat was taken by Zohan is portrayed by Rob Schneider. Rob is well known for his role as Duece Bigalow, America/European Gigolo. Rob does an amazing job at portraying a fairly simpleton farmer, trying to rebuild his life in the US, while being confronted by an old nightmare – Zohan. His almost cartoonish attempts to harm Zohan and later on dialing the “Hizbella” terrorist hotline – is simply as funny as funny can get.

Well, other than the above, I highly urge you to go see the movie, a really funny flic and a nice 90 minute get away from your regular day hassle bussle. Btw, if you ever come to Israel – don’t look for the Fizzy Bubbly drink – IT DOESN’T EXIST – WE DRINK COKE!