Pirated Sinetron

My Name is Kim Sam Soon vs. Darling (Photo source: http://myverve.multiply.com/photos/album/31/Kim_Sam_Soon_VS_Darling#)

*) This text is an excerpt of Understanding Movie Piracy in Indonesia: Knowledge and Practices of Piracy, an unpublished thesis written by Nuraini Juliastuti, International School for Humanities and Social Sciences, Universiteit van Amsterdam 2008.


The search for “sinetron bajakan” (pirated sinetron) through Google machine leads to a large numbers of links leading to online discussion forums and writings on either personal blogs or websites that are critical of those pirated sinetron. I quote an excerpt from a discussion about sinetron and its relationship with other Asian series on an online forum called Forum Detik (March 2008).

Has anybody in this forum watched the newest sinetron produced by RCTI? I think it is called “Menanti Sebuah Keajaiban” and I think it is so similar to a Taiwan series I watched on Indosiar last year. But, I forget the title of that Taiwan series (Cokelat, 12 March 2008, 09.06).

Ya. That Taiwan series is called: Silent. The lead actor is Vic Zhou, a Taiwan actor, and a Korean actress. But, I will not surprise to learn that there are many sinetrons copying other movies or series. What would be surprising for me is if there is an original sinetron on our television (L30nid4s1, 12 March 2008, 09.36).

Shinta posted an email to the discussion forum of Lembaga Negara Independen Komisi Penyiaran Independen (The Indonesian Independent Regulatory Body Indonesian Broadcasting Commission).

I am sorry to say that many Indonesian sinetrons are of such poor quality. They are made simply by copying series and movies from Thailand, Korean, Japan, Taiwan, and even Hollywood. I think the producers could be taken to court since what they have done are obviously violations of copyright and intellectual rights. Thank you. Shinta in West Java.

A list containing the titles of allegedly copying other Asian movies or series is widely distributed on those online discussions. The source of the list itself is not clear. What is clear is that the list has been modified continuously.

List of Indonesian sinetron titles allegedly copying Asian movies and series.

K-Drama = Korean Drama, T-Drama = Taiwan Drama, J-Dorama = Japanese Dorama

The discussion concerning copying practice and originality is intense. A discussion on those topics is stimulated with such strong statement: “To all of you, the dearest fans of sinetron on our television. Are you sure about the originality of a sinetron you are always watching every night?”.

To name the exasperation among audience “pan-Asian community” signs as defined by Hu (2004) and Davis and Yeh (2004) is still debatable, although blogs, websites and online discussion forums discussing Asian films and series initiated by individuals or televisions are many and suggest enthusiasm for consuming “the other Asians”. The examples of such blog, websites and discussion forums are http://lautan.indosiar.com/, http://koreakaja.wordpress.com/, http://www.sinemakorea.com/, and http://ikorlov.blogspot.com/.

I read these trenchant opinions as mixed feelings between strong criticism about low-quality sinetron and the  strong liking for Asian cultural products.  It elicits participatory discussions at audience level about how local televisions pirating their favourite Asian films and series. So one day, Tatz captured scenes in Darling—title of sinetron—and compared them with scenes in her favourite Korean series My Name is Kim Sam Soon. She posted her findings on her personal blog

Scenes showing above are taken from My Name Kim Sam Soon she watched from pirated disks, while the ones showing on the right are captured from Darling on RCTI. At the level of audience, there is an understanding that what is shown by a television—as the main source of entertainment for local people—are just “imitation forms of entertainment”. The audience show a high degree of anti piracy, particularly towards idea copying. It is also a discrepancy because the passion to consume pirated things is tremendous.

Further reading:

Hu, Kelly. (2004). “Chinese Re-Makings of Pirated VCDs of Japanese TV Dramas”, in Koichi Iwabuchi (ed.), Feeling Asian Modernities: Transnational Consumption of Japanese TV Dramas, (Hong Kong University Press, Hong Kong).

Davis, Darrel William and Emilie Yueh-Yu Yeh. (2004). “VCD as Programmatic Technology: Japanese Television Drama in Hong Kong”, in Koichi Iwabuchi (ed.), Feeling Asian Modernities: Transnational Consumption of Japanese TV Dramas, (Hong Kong University Press, Hong Kong).