Will April 1st 2008 be doomsday for Jordan’s JD 1 DVD paradise?

I was shopping for a gadget today in one of Amman’s famous video game stores, when two young ladies walked in and asked if they sell DVD movies. “No,” said the guy behind the counter. “Go to the shop up the road.”

As the girls were walking our I heard the guy mumble “the days of DVDs are over anyway.”

“What?” I asked.

“Haven’t you heard? All the pirate DVD stores are gonna be closed by 1 April,” he said

“You’re joking!”

“No.. All these shops in down town are getting rid of their merchandize. Copying DVDs will now land you in jail and it will be registered as a theft crime on your criminal record. State security and stuff,” he answered with confidence.

I don’t know what he meant by “state security” but I guess it was his “streetwise way” of telling me that the matter is serious.

“It’s a decision from someone really high up,” he added with a lowered voice.

Now, I might have head in the sand for the past few months. No one ever told me that this was coming down. If what the guy was saying is true, a big source of entertainment for a broad sector of Jordanian society will be wiped out overnight. It will be a “national disaster”.

“People will start downloading from the net,” the shop guy said.

My guess is that the whole thing will move underground. In Dubai, you just need to have the number of one of the Chinese people who sit around in restaurants with bags for of DVDs. That’s not as ‘pleasant’ as walking into one of the amazing DVD stores in downtown Amman. But somehow people need to be entertained.

Only a small minority of Jordanians can dish out 20 JDs or more for an original DVD at Prime or Virgin Megastore. The global studios would be better off offering cheap versions of their films in poorer countries. The reality today is that a DVD costs more in Jordan than the US or Europe because of the damn custom duties. I think this is absurd.

Mark my words. If the news is correct, just watch how the Plastic Internet goes underground post April 1st 2008.

And just in case if you’re wondering, this is not an early attempt at an April’s Fools joke.

Has anyone out there heard of this

22 Responses to “Will April 1st 2008 be doomsday for Jordan’s JD 1 DVD paradise?”

  1. ali Says:

    OH MY GOD!! , You can’t imagine how i’m surprised by this news , Excuse my language but this is really really fucked up!! , How are we suppose to watch movies from now on ? , Channel 2 ? , No No this is not happening !!.

    Not everyone got fast internet connection to be able to download movies , Not a lot of people know how to download a movie , Not a lot of people have the strength to download a movie , Not a lot of people can afford a original DVD copy , God I’m so mad now!! , Let me get out from your blog before i explode!!

  2. Venture Magazine Says:

    Hi Ahmad,

    Some confirmable details: 400,000 DVDs were seized earlier this month from a wholesaler.

    My source at the Intellectual Property Association (a prime advocate for crackdowns) tell me that street level sellers aren’t the primary target (virtually unenforceable anyway—it would just drive sales underground) and that April 1st is arbitrary.

    But don’t be too surprised to see some token crackdowns—and no doubt shop owners will close down for the day (or three) given these rumors.

  3. globalorama Says:


    Can Jordanians subscribe to a service, such as Netflex, to view movies over the net legally. I know they have plans for as little as $5 a month.

  4. Nas Says:

    it’s not true.

    these dvd shops have discovered a way of making more money: by telling people they’re closing down. customers end up going nuts and buying like crazy.

    if anything, there are more of these shops opening up.

    to say nothing of the fact that the national library, which is supposed to be in charge of IP inforcement, has like 6 law enforcement officials and one car. their capacity is no where near what is needed for a crackdown of this magnitude. the most they can handle is one or two shops and get the press to highlight it as a crackdown. we’ll start to worry when the IP commission that’s been proposed goes in to effect.

    but then again, i’ve been known to be wrong…

    well not really, no, but hey, it could happen :-P

  5. abed Says:

    The problem is that in Jordan they could even block peer to peer programs and illegal download on the net, this would be a real disaster. In Europe it’s amazing because the so called “privacy warrant” in a lot of countries had not allowed ISP companies to give personal data of the users to the police, so in fact you can download even if this is illegal because it’s also illegal for the police to “spy” your net activity! I love democracy!

  6. Lina Says:

    I heard DVD shop owners held a protest downtown a while ago against a new clampdown from the authorities.

  7. bakkouz Says:

    Have not heard anything of this sort, and I doubt that it will happen, we’ve heard such rumors tons of times before. The government has nothing to gain or benefit from closing down these stores.

  8. Amjad Mahfouz Says:

    Damn :S
    better hurry up and grap whatever i can

  9. nasimjo Says:


  10. kinzi Says:

    The guy at Plaza video in Rabia (where we usually rent from) is going out of business March 30, but he said it was because the rent increased. I wonder now if it has more to do with having a few pirated DVS for rent. They are pretty good at carrying originals, but I know people ask him for DVDs right after a film is released.

  11. Hani Obaid Says:

    The sound is almost always crap on the 1JD DVDs, and the video on half of them of them isn’t anywhere near DVD quality. They’re good for series though. I don’t like the idea of waiting for a series to come on once a week.

    Kinzi, there are other Plaza DVD stores. The one I rent from is next to 4th circle, and rents original DVDs for 2JDs.

  12. Ghassan Yonis Says:

    the “underground” DVD selling is already started.. I get my DVD’s from a service called DVD on Wheels, you just call them and tell them what you want, and they’ll deliver it to your door’s steps.. amazing isn’t, it’s actually more convenient for me..

  13. Sid Vicious Says:

    I’ve heard about 2 weeks ago that the guys behind Virgin, Prime, and the other vendors that carry original DVDs (if there are any besides those 2) took legal action on this matter, and that they immediately started enforcing the law after that. Don’t know any other details though.

  14. Ramy Eid Says:

    Using Freesoftware and open source products will be the answer. It’s not legal to steel if you can not pay, you have other legal ways, i think free content and the creative common licenses are great, and this works for music ;)

  15. ali Says:

    Mr.Ghassan , So you know i worked with DVD ON WHEELS for a while and i discovered that they also don’t sell original DVD copies , So they are on the Edge too.

    Yesterday i went to a DVD store to buy a movie ,
    I asked the guys there if this is true , And they were like ,
    Every year they do ( Jod Gov ) the same thing , But no changes take effect , And the owner of the shop told me , Well even if they do so , We can still sell them , Quoting from him , He said ” We can place the DVD’S inside PlayStation covers and still sell them , They won’t stop us , It’s a very good business and get us quick money. ” , Don’t know if i translated his words correctly but this is what he said.

    So rest guys , I don’t think it’s going to be a big deal ( Hopefully ).

  16. Noura Says:

    What I heard is the people from prime mega store and other legally-selling-Dvd businesses filed a lawsuit against the vendors, as a result the government promised to look in to it, take some action that is now said to be enforced 1st of april.

    However the lawsuit that started it all wont be concluded until the 1st of august (the verdict I’m guessing) something about the legal system here…

  17. Noura Says:

    Ask anyone in coorprate law, its all they seem to talk about these days, apperently this lawsuit is really BIG, and enforced by well known brand names with branches in Jordan.. So whats causing all the fuss (or who) is not coming from “upstairs” its coming from “outside” (MegaBigHugeMotherCompanies$$$)

    Like we have nothing else to worry about…

  18. ali Says:

    It’s there benefit to do such thing , Because people don’t go buy original DVD’S , I think ( even though they’re right ) that there efforts will go waste , There will be loads of people buying 1jd DVD’S.

    They’re wasting there money on lawyers.

  19. Global Voices Online » Jordan: End of Pirates DVDs Era Says:

    [...] “Will April 1st 2008 be doomsday for Jordan’s JD 1 DVD paradise?” asks Ahmed Humaid, from Jordan, who overhears people talking about the end of the era of cheap pirated DVDs. Share This [...]

  20. ArabianMonkey Says:

    A couple days ago I took a friend and colleague who also happens to be one of the leading Arabic series producers in the region on his first ever downtown-Amman-DVD-shopping experience. I treated him to a bag full of foreign films he wanted to see, then jokingly asked, “how about we buy one of your own?”

    The shopkeeper took him to the Arabic series shelves and pointed out the popular ones and his own favorites. Then my pal picked up the set of one of his own series, gave it a good look, turned to the shopkeeper and asked (in Arabic), “dude, who’s the producer of this series?”

    The shopkeeper just shrugged and said he had no clue, but that it was one of the popular ones. Then my friend said smiling, “dude, this is my production, at least put my name on the cover.” The shopkeeper asked about his name and was floored when he got he answer which was followed by warm handshakes and back patting and flattery, and immediately assured, “I’ll do that with the next batch, I promise.”

    We walked out with a bag full of films we were looking to watch and a giggle.

    In the car, the producer said he had absolutely no problem that his work was being pirated and sold as such. He said clearly there’s no other way for people to watch them. He also said that even if he was going to dupe the series himself and put it out in the local market, he didn’t believe he could beat that retail price of JD1/disc. A short pause, then he continued, “actually, the next time we want to send screeners to people, I’ll just have the office pick up a set from that DVD store”,

    Before a clampdown, a few options need to be provided for the masses.

    And if there is one, how does the gov justify that it’s not a partner in this crime by licensing these stores in the first place, allowing them to import some of their merchandise? How does the gov justify imposing a customs tax on their illegal wares?

    An old but relevant post: http://naydynmoody.blogspot.com/2007/09/avc-is-missing-another-c.html

  21. ameen Says:

    Quite frankly, I don’t understand people’s fascination with BUYING a DVD. Very few are the movies one watches more than once anyway. Ù┬ÉPersonally, I rent instead of buying, even in the case of a pirated copy (and I will be honest, most of the movies I’ve been renting for the past couple of years are pirated). Renting equals less plastic waste. Full stop. The least a responsible citizen can do is to try minimizing his environmental footprint. No one is asking anyone to spend more money to be environmentally righteous, if you get my drift.

  22. yousef Says:

    I cant think that this will happen but the most movies i buy know are recorded in a cinema plz can anybody tell a good place to buy a DVD movie.

    thank u.

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