In Latin American countries, piracy has been a way to access films for different audiences since VHS technology became popular. Piracy has been equally relevant to elite filmmakers interested in particular titles and ordinary audiences who just want affordable and easy access to films. Using Colombia as a case study, we discuss some of the nuances that piracy can assume in a national context. Specifically, we argue for an understanding of art-cinema “piratas”– piracy sellers – as cultural brokers through an analysis of piracy as an economic force as well as a business/technical infrastructure. Art-cinema piratas (henceforth we will use the Spanish word) facilitate access to films that are omitted from official exhibition circuits either because of high screening fees or Hollywood’s dominance and sway over moviegoers’ preferences. Despite audiences’ predilection for Hollywood blockbusters, piracy challenges the hegemonic alliances between local film exhibitors and distributors at different levels of distribution. As we will describe below, piratas expand the narrow swatch of options for showcasing art cinema by offering a broader gamut of films to cinephiles, while opening spaces for alternative film distribution to local filmmakers who emerge from lower income socio-economic classes.

Piracy materially occupies indoor and outdoor market spaces where, in addition to films and music, consumers have access to an array of counterfeited goods including alcohol and seeds.1 In the case of film, the emergence of piracy in Latin America recalls some of the ways films have been distributed since the invention of cinema that rendered colonised territories the recipients of residual production. This repetition aside, the emergence of more contemporary piracy signals a departure from distributors’ monopolies that have dominated the market distribution of 16 and 35 mm copies until the mid-1980s. VHS became a popular format for production (more so than its predecessor, U-Matic) because of the relative portability of cameras and the affordability of blank tapes. By the ‘90s, video rentals became popular and ubiquitous in Latin America with locations spanning from neighbourhood stores to the eventual presence of multinational companies, such as the now defunct Blockbuster.  

Local video rentals, such as Betatonio, marked a generation of audiences who gravitated towards curated collections associated with European avant-garde, Independent and New American cinema – even if the store also featured popular genres. Betatonio stores had strategic locations in Bogotá, characterised by middle and upper-class patterns of consumption. They specialised in the rental of Betamax copies that were eventually replaced by original VHS copies. After 27 years in business, their demise can be attributed to the arrival of Blockbuster, cable TV, and piracy itself.2 Ironically for Betatonio, VHS enabling multiple duplications signalled the origin of piracy as a profitable business. By the mid-’00s, optical media expanded as a distribution format for music, film, and software. Through the versatility of legal and/or illegal online access, high pedigree companies (e.g. Criterion) still distribute films in optical media formats.   

Piracy in the Colombian context has played a key role in the history of distribution and consumption, by granting access to a plurality of audiences while enabling a wide array of genres to become popular. Audiences’ appetite for Japanese, Korean, and select Eastern European cinema owes a lot to piracy’s accessibility. This expanded a cinephilia that was initially restricted to the above-mentioned European and US traditions, which stemmed from programming at emblematic film clubs and cinematheques who relied on 16mm distributors. Film clubs in Colombia began in 1949, when the Cine Club de Colombia screened Les Enfants du paradis (Marcel Carré, 1945). They emerged in tandem with the development of film societies, film clubs, and the cultivation of cinephilias that became a trend in Latin America after World War II.3 They evolve and new chapters emerge; with many relying on piracy for their programming. They predominantly take place at universities or alternative cultural venues. Admission is often free and the program is selected by small groups of people, or one individual, delving into auteurs, film movements, genres or a national cinema. 

Piratas emerge from a broad spectrum of demographics which, in turn, illustrates the complexity of the piracy ecosystem. Our research relies mostly on oral history, informal conversations, and interviews with vendors as sources of information and fieldwork in Bogotá, the capital city, as well as secondary cities such as Bucaramanga, Barranquilla, and Cali in Colombia.4 We are interested in how the piracy industry has evolved, what the future holds for vendors, and the place it has occupied in the country’s film culture that is (like any other) marked by issues of gender, race, class, and social mobility. In addition, our interest in popular cinemas suggests how piracy is inclusive of production by low-budget filmmakers and communities whose visibility deviates from mainstream Colombian film production, as well as their training in filmmaking, production and distribution.

Maicol has sold pirated media in Medellín since 2005. In 2022, when describing the story of this practice in the city, the myth of Escorpio emerges. Escorpio was a pioneer of selling VHS copies in the early ‘90s, eventually transitioning to DVDs. According to Maicol, “(Escorpio) started with a tower (CPU) and later got several warehouses. He ended up in jail, but he made himself rich”.5 As Sundaran argues, the setting of technological networks in post-Fordist globalised and capitalist societies “soon moved regionally and in a non-linear fashion”.6 In Colombia, particularly inMedellín, Escorpio established a monopoly. Medellín has a long history of violence: from the drug cartels of the ‘80s and ‘90s to the paramilitary forces that characterise the current moment. Maicol recalls how no one, besides Escorpio, was allowed to start a piracy business. Escorpio exercised total control. Those who wanted to enter the business needed to sell Escorpio’s merchandise, identified by a small scorpion stamp which was his logo. 

Maicol’s story in the piracy business has a less legendary status, but sheds light on why informal urban networks keep proliferating in colonialised territories.7 Following the steps of his mother, in a story that is common to piratas, he started selling socks. In most cases, many family members are street vendors who move from selling garments or counterfeited goods (such as apparel, footwear, accessories, and transhipped goods) to eventually opting for piracy. When Maicol started, the garment business’ daily earnings averaged 5000 Colombian pesos (the equivalent of $1US). Hence, the offer of $12 000 plus a lunch allowance as daily payment was an offer he couldn’t refuse. Immediately, it laid bare the profitability of entering the piracy business. He was able to open his stall by using money from his wife’s liquidation sale of socks. 

Nowadays, the main product at Maicol’s stall is pornography, offering several titles made in the country. Likewise, a pirata in Cali, a city in the southwest of the country, mentioned that his three films for the price of two promotion often led to clients picking one action film, one horror, and one porn. Even though computers no longer feature optical media readers and DVD players are almost out of commercial circulation, DVDs maintain a privileged place in the distribution of pornography. However, the distribution of international and local pornography is not a recent phenomenon. It began with magnetic media, distributed mostly in Betacam and VHS formats in the piracy business. There are no scholarly resources on the production history of adult films in Colombia. Stories from piratas, the issues of the porn magazine Cuerpos (an erotic-content magazine that circulated from 1980 to 1990), and the scant information that circulates in a few online sources mention Medellín as the city where local production started in the ‘80s. This was spearheaded by Edgar Escobar, owner of Trópico Producciones and Head of Communication at the Medellín Cocaine Cartel led by Pablo Escobar.8 Later in the ‘90s Michael Spring Danger, a pseudonym for Marco Aurelio Posada, also made approximately seventy porn movies in magnetic media. Escobar’s films were made mostly for export, with Los Angeles as the main distribution site; Spring Danger used to rent these films and his own at his prosperous video rental store Video Stop. His name was eventually abbreviated to MSD as a trademark.9 Here, the dates become significant and compelling because they correspond to the height of the city’s drug-related violence, a period that was also marked by a booming of illegal economies, which underscores the illegal and clandestine character of pornography production during the first years of the business. 

In addition to marketing porn, piracy stalls also play a significant role in the distribution of alternative cinemas such as films made by low-strata, and mostly self-taught filmmakers in peripheral neighbourhoods or in the regional locations. Luisa González has coined this mode of production cines populares due to their use of mainstream elements taken from action films and narco-series, mingled with the makers’ life experiences as part of the Colombian working class – clase popular.10 Distinct from mainstream definitions of popular cinema, the implication here is that these films are produced in low-income stratas of the cities. Their production and distribution network takes place outside of the official Colombian film industry ecosystem. Films such as La gorra (The cap, Andrés Lozano & Lupe Ocampo, 2007), El parche (The Gang, Didier Velasco and Wilson Quintero, 2009), and Facilidad (Easiness, Jefferson Paz, 2009) have been available in different cities not only in Colombia but also elsewhere in South America, connecting broad audiences that relate to each other in the way these stories approach marginalised storytelling. This dynamic of film distribution falling outside of the official cinema circuit is akin to “cine guerrilla” or “Chonewood” in Ecuador, which is described by Coryat & Zweig as “violent, exploitative, shoestring budget guerrilla cinema, based in the coastal town of Chone”.11 These modalities of distribution can also be found in the “cine regional peruano” made in Perú by filmmakers outside of the capital, Lima, as broadly studied by Emilio Bustamante and Jaime Luna Victoria.12 As an accessible format, DVD allows this kind of production to be broadly seen outside of the intellectual elite and/or narrow economic circuits. It plays a significant role in the understanding of plural and contemporary practices in countries lacking dominant film cultures.

However, as Jedlowski13 suggests in the case of Nollywood, distribution relying on a particular format that can be replicated makes this kind of alternative production particularly vulnerable to piracy. This undermines the potential for filmmakers to make revenue from their work. Popular Colombian filmmakers acknowledge piracy’s power to affect their income, one of them even prosecuted the person who handed the piratas a copy of his film before it was released.14 Peruvian filmmakers of the “cine regional peruano” also see piracy affecting their revenues, despite seeking arrangements with the sellers.15 Similar agreements between vendors and filmmakers in Ecuador are portrayed in the documentary Más allá del mall (Beyond the mall, Miguel Alvear, 2010). Tamara Falicov confirms that this is also a practice in Bolivia.16 Andrade – a pirata specializing in distributing art-cinema in Bogotá – confirms that, despite the pressure to make available Colombian films with success at A-list festivals, he makes this tacit agreement with local mainstream filmmakers. This keeps them as clientele and avoids friction with the national offices overseeing films and local production companies.17

In a business characterised by an influx of production, the competition to showcase attractive films is rampant. Working-class filmmakers in Colombia, aware of the circulation of their films in piracy circles, note that they wish they could enjoy profits from their work as piratas do. While they share a feeling of being robbed, they also acknowledge the fact that piratas contribute to reaching a broad audience that would be otherwise impossible.18 In spite of the Colombian film industry’s growth since the Law on Cinema, distribution is still a major challenge, despite the increasing production and the visibility of films at international festivals.19 

Violence and police brutality are other facets of Colombian film piracy. Liag argues that the pirate is a demonised figure, who is subject to media attention after police raids.20 Recalling events from 2014, Gustavo’s work as a pirata was marked by police brutality.21 In a police raid, he was arrested. Police destroyed his merchandise, including the TV set he used to test and exhibit merchandise in an episode he describes as humiliating. Years ago, piratas were jailed for a few days and had to pay bail to be released from custody. Police brutality stirred collective anger among the street vendors in downtown Cali. As a consequence, vendors started to challenge police violence in solidarity with each other, which led to massive riots and a vendor being hurt in a shooting. The news reported that amidst the chaos, a taxi driver hit one of the sellers by accident.22 Gustavo recalls that the injured pirata pursued legal action against the police officer with no success, and despite media attention, the injured vendor’s failed plight for justice went unreported. 

After these events, police persecution dropped precipitously, which impacted the piracy business in negative and unforeseen ways. Gustavo cites three factors for this. First, with the reduction of police persecution, more people entered the piracy business because it was no longer perceived as risky. This change in the perception of piracy was further reflected in the sophistication of the stalls, upgrading to large LCD screens, and expanding collections to at least two thousand titles per stall. Second, someone nicknamed “the Peruvian” forced all sellers in Cali’s downtown to reduce prices in order to compete with him since he was selling titles at cheaper prices. Third, the internet, YouTube, and OTTs such as Netflix23 have grown in popularity over the years and decreased the demand for piracy. Nowadays, there are fewer piratas on the streets. Many of them have transitioned to selling other counterfeited products, particularly items related to cell phones such as cases, chargers, headphones or earbuds, and repair services.

As suggested by Aguiar,24 copyright laws and their enforcement reproduce top-down inequalities and the external influence of “an international private sector at the national and local level.” Falicov also notes the asymmetrical power dynamics in international copyright policing in the Latin American region, where Colombia was included in a Priority Watch List created by the Office of the US Trade Representative in 2017.25 Arresting street vendors and the massive destruction of DVDs on the streets supported the Colombian government’s claims of taking strong measures against piracy. 

The metamorphosis of the piracy business is put into further perspective through the story of Camila, a piracy seller in Bucaramanga.26 She shared that she inherited the shop from her brother, who switched to selling cell phone accessories. Stories like Camila’s demonstrate an increase of women’s participation in piracy production and distribution in cities, such as Bucaramanga and Bogotá, revealing evolving gender dynamics in the business. In collective research done in 2012 in several piracy distribution centres in the world, including Bogotá, men were most prominent in the audiovisual piracy business.27 Nowadays, males are mostly present at the remaining street video stalls, while women are the ones running large pirate disc shops in central distribution centres. Camila’s video shop started 22 years ago and has accumulated a large catalogue of titles, which positions her well among the remaining piracy sellers. She is now the owner, but when the shop opened as a VHS rental she was already working there. Whereas male street vendors chose one genre or product to grab the passer-bys attention – for example lining up their stalls with the covers of pornographic films, or showcasing selected scenes from action movies or local popular-class films on their screens – women’s large shops function as collections with TV screens reserved to check the quality of the discs, if asked by a client, and a couple of printed lists of recent and available titles. “Today, people need to come to my shop if they are looking for something specific. It is not like before when they could find piracy in other places of the city” states Camila (26). She and other interviewed piratas recognise that piracy remains the main source of their income, despite being aware of the decline of the business and the glaring fact that it will soon come to an end. 

Popular films and piracy in Latin America. Photo by Natalia Imery Almario during the shooting of the documentary Cine Digital Popular (Luisa F González, 2018). Courtesy of the author.

 The chronological relationship between piracy and particular kinds of film consumption is undeniable. At the same time street vendors turned to piracy, cinephiles did as well. Such is the case of Alfredo, who founded a film club in the ‘80s and organised one of the first beamer projections in Cali with a Betacam copy of Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982). When VHS became popular in the country, Alfredo opened a small shop. A year after starting the business, he moved to a bigger store, equipped with fourteen VHS players on display and fourteen reserved for duplication. As he puts it: “I owe everything I have to VHS”.28 Nowadays, his shop is a small garage where he holds a collection of more than 21 000 titles on DVD and MP4 files in external drives. His “VHS kingdom”, as he calls it, ran from 1993 to 2005. By 2008, most of his clientele had moved to DVD. Despite the initial success of his business, Alfredo didn’t experience the police persecution other sellers describe. According to him, first, during the years in which his VHS business venture flourished, his rare film catalogue was not competing with official distributors’ films. Second, when the police inspected his business, he would argue that he was reproducing from legal copies. In his words, “I was therefore paying taxes and contributing to the economy.” Given the history of copyright battles, this argument might seem weak, but Alfredo emerged unscathed. 

Alfredo’s clients can be characterised as middle and upper class, educated consumers. Some of them are full-time or adjunct professors at universities, as well as filmmaking or media students. Likewise, piracy stalls are available at public and private universities. At times, Piratas keep inventories in Excel forms or DVD storage cases to facilitate the shopper’s selection. The distribution of piracy in universities (or outside cultural institutions, such as popular art-cinema stalls outside Cineteca Nacional in Mexico City) exemplifies a particular dynamic where the expansion of a film culture is impossible if relegated exclusively to legal copies. 

Similar to Camila, Alfredo knows his business will reach an end, because eventually the production of blank DVDs will cease and duplication will be impossible. Currently, he has sought to transform his business. During the 2020 pandemic, he started uploading films to a private cloud and expanded to streaming services. In retrospect, Alfredo sees himself as a film curator, not only because of his work at cine-clubs, but at his shop as well. He argues that when he makes his yearly best film selection, he watches an average of four hundred films to land at a selection of thirty. Thus, Alfredo’s line of work is more in tandem with piratas interested in art cinema and facilitating access to particular films that make it into top-tier festivals, similar to Andrade.  

Andrade advertises his business on social media as “a store devoted to lovers of independent and cult cinema.” In addition to DVDs, the store features a line of cinema-themed merchandise including mugs, t-shirts, coasters, and mouse pads. During the pandemic, his business survived through home deliveries that gradually became possible, as citizens regained mobility and abandoned isolation. Lately, he has been selling second-hand cinema books that he acquires from retired academics or film critics who moved out of the city. Although he holds a Bachelor of Sciences degree, his decision to continue working with piracy has to do with independence and relative job security, which is difficult to achieve as a scientist in the country. However, Andrade acknowledges that the business is changing and surviving as pirata will demand moving to other forms of acquisition and distribution. Along with another seller whose store is named after a famous US film, they are a reference point for art cinema in the city, attracting more clients than the scant bookstores that sell art cinema.

A particular characteristic of Andrade’s stall is that once titles and directors are announced for important festivals, he pirates most of them and offers the selection parallel to the film festival. His acquisitions are advertised on social media, where he also posts occasional photos with famous Latin American directors, administrators, or critics who stop by his stall. However, in a conversation back in 2019, he remarks that being an independent pirata translates into heavy and intense labour. In his words, he oversees selecting the films, locating and downloading them, designing or reproducing the covers, burning discs and packing, moving the merchandise to the stall, and administering the business.29 While he does not describe the police as a problem because he is not a street vendor, he recounts friction with the owners of other stalls who resent the success of his business, a situation that has prompted him to move a couple of times, affecting his profits and causing him to lose clientele. 

As can be gleaned from our examples, piracy sellers are a diverse cohort, and the motivations to start or maintain such a business are legion. The reasons for creating a piracy business venture are acutely related to a broken social contract and the high rate of unemployment in the country. Piratas like Alfredo and Andrade, who are invested in select genres or art cinema with a clear cinephilia dimension, are curators and cultural brokers that give access to the films they believe are worth seeing and possess a keen awareness of the preferences of their customers. They are invested in good quality copies, and attend to viewers and consumers interested in genres, directors, and titles not available in the narrow official circuit of legal distribution. The clients include but are not limited to media students, professors, and film buffs interested in movies that do not make it to theatres, with official distribution directed by companies, such as Cine Colombia, a company of the Valorem group, Cineplex, Cinemark, and, more recently, the Mexican company Cinepolis. It is worth noting that such companies see “rampant piracy” as a challenge, and, in the case of alternative/art houses, Cinemark’s proxy Elba McAllister highlights the continued dominance of Hollywood film as a pressing issue: “With Hollywood movies still dominating our screens, the ideal scenario would be for the creation of alternative/arthouse circuits and for major exhibitors to permanently allot two to three screens to independent cinema”.30  

Street vendors selling pirated films are generally not very invested in the quality of the merchandise. Even though they have a regular clientele, street vendors target pedestrians. The quality of their discs and image resolution can be lower. A common modality is the so-called “combos” that offer up to five compressed films in one disc. This practice is most visible in secondary and tertiary cities such as Barranquilla, Cali, Medellín, or Popayán. They contain “selections” and deal with different themes. Some popular combos are, for example, Violencia guerrillera (guerrilla violence), featuring Colombian documentaries about the endemic armed conflict that characterises the country’s history. Clients can also buy a selection simply labelled as Mujeres colombianas (Colombian women), showcasing films with leading women actors. 

Cover of “combo” Mujeres colombianas (Colombian women). DVD purchased in 2022 at San Bazar, Bucaramanga.

Cover of “combo” Guerra y terror en Colombia (War and Horror in Colombia). Purchased in 2022 at Cali’s downtown.

Camila explains that combos are a modality to keep in circulation films that customers will hardly look for individually. For instance, customers might have a taste for Jackie Chan’s films but – in her words – “they are not looking for a specific title; they might just say they like Jackie Chan, so I make the combo available”.31 The fact that the practice of combos is very present in the aforementioned cities sheds light on consumption patterns for sectors of the population that still access films via optical media. Beyond cities, combos offer affordability for people on a tight budget from rural areas or smaller cities where unemployment is higher,32 coupled with their reduced or non-existant access to film theatres or the internet.33

Conditions of film consumption in Colombia explain why media piracy can proliferate. Copyright laws are written to protect international and national agents who are not visible to local piracy consumers. Moreover, the films available through official and legal channels is very limited because exhibitors show films that are likely to generate revenue with high box-office numbers and expensive ticket prices. Like other countries in Latin America, sharing, copying, and watching films through “illegal” discs or files is not perceived as an unlawful action.34 Instead, illegal copies are a regular part of a larger national film culture that is often replicated elsewhere in Latin America. Despite the quality of pirated discs and links potentially not matching the cinema screen and the growth of streaming platforms, for many Colombian viewers, pirated copies of films enable them to watch what they desire. In a way, this relates to Hito Steyerl’s defence of the poor image,35 films circulating as copies “uploaded, downloaded, shared, reformatted, and re-edited” is a key component of the Latin American ecosystem of film production and consumption.

The influence that piracy has on local film culture and film production is undeniable. It provides access to local and rare productions, simultaneously reinforcing the influence of western and mainstream films. Art house piratas cultivate a taste for European and Asian cinema, top-tier film festivals, and Oscar-nominated films. Alternatively, piracy oriented towards other sectors of the population distribute Hollywood action films and attend to the demand for martial arts and horror movies. Piratas also cater to audiences interested in television series, ranging from popular Latin American telenovelas to popular OTT series. For instance, Narcos and Narcos Mexico from Netflix capitalise on a fascination with drug lord stories that was very exploited in Colombian TV series and films in the last decades, despite gross misrepresentations of Colombian culture. 

Despite an awareness of the eventual disappearance of the optical media format, piratas themselves deem piracy to be a persistent activity. As such, their stalls possess a store infrastructure (display, variety of merchandise, advertisements, defined store hours, and customer service mentality, for example). Even if select piratas deviate from selling movies to selling other items, including counterfeit goods or other illegal activities, media piracy remains. The association between piracy and criminality requires further discussion than what is allotted here. Yet, it suffices to say that linking piracy with criminality should be done with caution. To associate piracy with criminality, without examining the socio-political context holistically, statistics and data infographics related to the national economy reinforce the government’s narrative of criminality and stigmatization that affects thousands of citizens for whom piracy is the only source of income. While it is true that sections of the industry operate negatively and criminally, the proliferation of piracy and counterfeit goods as informal economies responds to jobs scarcity. In addition, piracy is hardly confined to spaces that might be characterised as dangerous. Pirated goods are available in exterior stalls and in indoor shopping malls, with many vendors specializing only in pirated media and counterfeit goods. In some cases, sites of piracy have emerged in abandoned houses or buildings that have been appropriated by sellers of different types of merchandise. Pirated media is also accessible in business malls that bring together vendors who focus on computer and electronics sales. In those malls, film piracy can be more precarious than selling other goods, with the market for pirated software and video games being more extensive. The demand for their products responds to the fact that they provide affordable solutions to access proprietary software that become essential in the digital world.

The production of pirated films in other corners of the world responds to fast changes in technology that are not always affordable for piratas working at a low scale in countries like Colombia. These technological changes include modalities such as de-streaming, cyberlockers, and cloud services, access to online auction sites, and the creation of apps, described in reports such as the 2022 Review of Notorious Markets for Counterfeiting and Piracy.36 Marketing strategies that have functioned over the years for art cinema vendors will eventually fade in a world where the circulation of content is ruled by OTT moguls that rely on algorithms to predict consumers’ patterns and preferences and the increasing use of artificial intelligence to combat video piracy. The inability to compete with these sophisticated delivery methods of content and new vendors might push vendors to turn to other venues of income.  

Thanks to Jonathan Risner for his copy editing work. 


  1. Miller, Ben. ‘Ten Ways Piracy Is Everywhere in Latin America’. Americas Quarterly (blog), 17 January 2019.
  2. Portafolio. ‘La piratería acabó con Betatonio’. Portafolio.co. Accessed 24 February 2023.
  3. Rielle Navitski offers a complete study of Cine Club de Colombia, the first film club in the country; the author offers names of participants, and administrative information drawing from archival research; she mentions some of the screened films and narrates sources and processes of film copies acquisition at the time. See Navitski, Rielle. “The Cine Club de Colombia and Postwar Cinephilia in Latin America: Forging Transnational Networks, Schooling Local Audiences”. Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, (2018) 38.4, 808-29. https://doi.org/10.1080/01439685.2018.1453993
  4. All the names of participants in interviews and conversations have been changed to protect their identities.
  5. Maicol a piracy seller in Medellín. Interview by Luisa González Valencia (Medellín, February 2022).
  6. Sundaram, Ravi. “Revisiting the Pirate Kingdom.” Postcolonial Piracy: Media Distribution and Cultural Production in the Global South. Ed. Lars Eckstein and Anja Schwarz. (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2014). p 30.
  7. Ibid., p 31.
  8. Not a relative of the drug lord of the same last name, Edgar Escobar is nevertheless referenced as the author of Pablo Escobar en caricaturas 1983-1981, a collection item commissioned by Pablo Escobar himself and which consisted of only nine editions. Pablo Escobar allegedly signed the collection item in gold, both with his signature and fingerprint. See Mercado, David Alejandro. “Sale a la luz otro ejemplar del ‘libro de oro’ de Pablo Escobar”. El Tiempo, 24 January 2016.
  9. Some documentary footage from a documentary entitled Retrato porno (Andrés Burgos, 2000) shows an interview with Spring Danger addressing the size and philosophy of his business. The footage also offers a glimpse at the size of the VHS collection and his production facilities. See Retrato porno. Documentary, 2000.
  10. González Valencia, Luisa Fernanda. ‘Cines populares colombianos. La Gorra, un estudio de caso’. Nexus, (31 December 2020) 1–12. https://doi.org/10.25100/nc.v0i28.9942
  11. Coryat, Diana, and Noah Zweig. ‘New Ecuadorian Cinema: Small, Glocal and Plurinational’.  International Journal of Media & Cultural Politics 13, no. 3 (September 2017): 265–85. https://doi.org/10.1386/macp.13.3.265_1. p 277.
  12. Bustamante, Emilio, and Jaime Luna Victoria. Las miradas múltiples: El cine regional peruano. Tomo I. (Lima: Fondo editorial Universidad de Lima, 2018).
  13. Jedlowski, Alessandro. ‘From Nollywood to Nollyworld: Processes of Transnationalization in the Nigerian Video Film Industry’. In Global Nollywood the Transnational Dimensions of an African Video Film Industry, edited by Matthias Krings and Onookome Okome. African Expressive Cultures. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2013). p 28.
  14. Gonzalez Valencia, Luisa Fernanda. ‘Cines populares colombianos’, p 11.
  15. Bustamante, Emilio, and Jaime Luna Victoria. Las miradas múltiples, p 37-38.
  16. Falicov, Tamara L. ‘Film Legislation, Screen Quotas and Piracy’. In Latin American Film Industries, 1st edition. (London: British Film Institute, 2019). p 136
  17. Bustamante, Emilio, and Jaime Luna Victoria. Las miradas múltiples, p 38.
  18. Andrés Lozano at Q & A of the film La gorra. Revista Visaje. 28 (September 2016). Escobar, Fernando and Alexis, Ocoró. ‘Q & A of the film El Desplazado’. Revista Visaje (blog), 14 September 2016.
  19. The Law on Cinema is Law 814; written in 2013 and revised in 2013, this legislation aims to invigorate Colombian film production, increase international collaboration and boost Colombian film production and Colombia as a cinematic location in global scenarios. It is an intricate set of financial policies that combine funds from State and income from private sectors among many other financial strategies.
  20. Liang, Lawrence. “Beyond Representation: The Figure of the Pirate.” Postcolonial Piracy: Media Distribution and Cultural Production in the Global South. Ed. Lars Eckstein and Anja Schwarz. (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2014.) p 53.
  21. Gustavo piracy seller in Cali. Interview by Luisa González Valencia, (September 2016).
  22. Protesta. ‘Vendedores Ambulantes Se Toman El Centro de Cali’. El País. 27 November 2003. Operativos. ‘Disturbios Paralizaron La Calle 15’. El País 1 September 2014.
  23. In low strata sectors, Netflix memberships are paid by collecting money among neighbours, relatives and friends. Likewise, entrepreneurs have found ways for offering Netflix access with lower prices organizing networks of shared memberships; they get clients by openly advertising through flyers and posters around public spaces in the cities. This being one of the reasons for Netflix increasing sharing restrictions in households or increasing prices according to the number of users.
  24. Aguiar, J. C. G. Dirty CDs: Piracy, Globalisation and the Emergence of New Illegalities in the San Juan de Dios Market, Mexico. (PhD diss., University of Amsterdam, 2007) p.50.
  25. Falicov, Tamara L. ‘Film Legislation, Screen Quotas and Piracy’, p 139.
  26. Camila a piracy seller in Bucaramanga. Interview by Luisa González Valencia, (Bucaramanga January 2022).
  27. Mattelart, Tristan. Audiovisual Piracy, Informal Economy, and Cultural Globalization’. International Journal of Communication, Vol.6 (2012). p 741.
  28. Alfredo art-house piracy seller in Cali. Interview by Luisa González Valencia, (Cali, April 2022).
  29. Andrade an art-house piracy seller in Bogotá. Interview by Juana Suárez, (Bogotá, November 2019).
  30. Fuente, Anna Marie. ‘Fears of Valorem Monopoly Alleviated’. Variety (blog), 16 May 2009.
  31. Camila a piracy seller in Bucaramanga. Interview.
  32. Trujillo, Juliana. ‘Arauca y Mocoa son las ciudades con las tasas de desempleo más altas con corte a noviembre’. Diario La República. Accessed 8 February 2023.
  33. In Colombia, 56.5% of the population does not have access to the Internet, and people in the areas affected most by war are those with less access. See in Staff Forbes, ‘Solo el 56,5% de los hogares en Colombia tiene internet’.
  34. Falicov, Tamara L. ‘Film Legislation, Screen Quotas and Piracy’. p 133. Aguiar, J. C. G. Dirty CDs., p48.
  35. Steyerl, Hito. ‘In Defense of the Poor Image’. E-Flux, no. 10 (November 2009).
  36. United States, Trade Representsative Office. ‘2022 Review of Notorious Markets for Counterfeiting and Piracy’. Accessed 25 February 2023.

About The Author

Luisa González is a filmmaker, cinema programmer and P.h.D. Candidate at CEDLA Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Amsterdam. Juana Suárez is an Associate Arts Professor in the Department of Cinema Studies at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts and Director of its Moving Image Archiving and Preservation Program.

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