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Don't Travel w/ Fake DVDs
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Friday, 26 May 2006

Topic: Don't Travel w/ Fake DVDs
Going Abroad?.... Know What Not to Bring.

by Art Tibaldo

During my travel to the US and Canada after the eventful 911 tragedy, airports including our very own NAIA have intensified their security measures to a point that almost every bits and pieces that a traveler carry are thoroughly checked and scrutinized.

In 2004, I learned from an email group portal that a Filipina who just passed her nursing here was immediately deported by immigration officials at a US terminal upon inspecting from her luggage pages of photocopied CGFNS reviewer originally published in the states.

Carrying pirated DVDs, VCDs, audio CDs, softwares or computer programs is strictly banned all over and this has caused the deployment of media forensic experts in many points of entries worldwide so that fake items can be immediately be checked.

As of this writing, I am not yet sure whether powerpoint presentrations in CD-ROM or optical media authored by a person other than the traveler are allowed at airport terminals without a written consent by its creator. "Content Creator" is a term or title used to identify the authors of the disc's contents.

In my case as a multi-media artist, I authored and "burned" my own powerpoint and video presentations into compact disks (CDs) and digital video disks (DVDs). Confident that my name appears in the file properties of my presentation as inscripted by my working software, I wonder if media forensic experts will go to the extent of verifying the true authors of such materials.

A question can also be raised with the mass use of USB flash drives or portable storage devices nowadays. These solid state media are small enough to be concealed in small bag pockets or used as a key chain. One or two gigabyte of storage capacity of a flash drive can accommodate as many files as that of two to five CDs.

The Philippine's Optical Media Act of 2003 states that t he Optical Media Board shall prescribe source identification codes or SID codes for all persons, establishments or entities authoring and mastering optical media. As for me, I'm not yet sure whether to secure one since I haven't heard of someone having such.
I also see a grey area from the provisions of the Act when it comes to USB drives. Since it is always best to be sure, one should not carry a drive with copied contents especially original movies from Hollywood.
Hawai'i Consul General Ariel Abadilla whom I have met during my cultural diplomacy as ethnographer-in-residence at the East West Center issued a warning to Filipino-Americans there that visiting relatives carrying pirated items can spoil and jeopardize their travel.

Abadilla also reported that the US Embassy's Consular Section recently received a report that the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) searched the bag of a Filipino on NW 72 in Detroit. During the said search, 70-80 compact discs, 30-40 empty DVD jackets and 10-20 DVDs were found. Abadilla added that since the travelers were not American citizens, their visas were cancelled and they returned to the Philippines. Had they been Americans according to Abadilla, they could have been subject to arrest and criminal prosecution in addition to civil fines and penalties.

When I went to Honolulu this February, I actually brought three Ilocano Karaoke VCDs and I saw to it that it bears the hologram of the Videogram Regulatory Board which is now the OMB. To ascertain that my travel to US is trouble free, I even carried with me the receipt of the VCDs.

My Friend Gabby Ruliva of Pinsao, a retired US navy felt sorry to his relative who refused to carry a DVD containing my coverage of the successful 2006 Lang-ay Festival in Bontoc for fear of a possible problem that they might encounter upon reaching a US Terminal. By the way, traveling with a laptop with an unlicensed operating system (OS) like the latest Windows XP and upgrades may also pose a problem so think again before bringing an item out of the country.

Posted by tibaldoarts at 11:49 AM JST

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