Can I mail mp3s to Botswana?
July 29, 2010 4:18 PM   Subscribe

Will I have problems sending copyrighted music to Botswana?

Asking on behalf of my girlfriend: She wants to send her friend a flash drive filled with music in a care package she's preparing. Her friend is serving in the Peace Corps in Botswana. My girlfriend asks: Will I have any problems with customs since this is copyrighted material? Will I be treated like a DVD pirate? And, p.s. -- any suggestions from returned Peace Corps volunteers (especially from Botswana) on what items might be particularly appreciated? Thanks...
posted by Buffaload to Law & Government (4 answers total)
Tanzania isn't Botswana, but I was working at an N.G.O. there for a while.

I can't imagine customs would ever plug in a flash drive looking for music. They have way bigger problems than copyright infringement and the american music labels aren't spending their time breathing down the necks of poor people in 3rd world countries.

In Tanzania they sell copywritten dvds everywhere on the streets and the authorities don't mind it. Saw similar things in Rwanda, Burundi, and the D.R. Congo.

Don't send anything heavy (non-electronic) like soaps because you will pay more for shipping than they would pay to buy it there.

Sunscreen and mosquito spray are solid choices though. For obvious reasons there isn't a huge sunscreen market in most of Africa and it can be ridiculously expensive when available. ($20+ for an spf 15 in some teeny-bopper brand was what I saw in a store.. )

Apply-to-body mosquito sprays were non-existent, but really nice to have.

Relevant books (about africa- or better, botswana) are great.. it will help with culture shock if they can see written down what they are feeling. I know the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books are set in Botswana, but those may or may not appeal to your friends.

Leatherman type tools are awesome and incredibly useful.

Pictures of you together are really nice to have for them, and also handy because everyone they meet will want to see what their friends/family look like.

If they don't have phones, you could buy them a Motorola V190 (unlocked, quadband) phone on ebay for around $25. It is just a solid solid phone. I have an android phone, but like my v190 so much that I almost switched to it. (tl;dr: blasphemy!)

A phone with two SIM card slots would make you a legend. I just saw good one, but will have to remember which phone it was. Basically, each phone company has good deals for in-market calls, so people have SIM cards for each carrier and switch to a common one when speaking. If your phone holds two SIM cards, then you don't have to switch so much..

Nice paper and pens were really hard to find (by nice I mean even standard BICs.. God I was homesick for a BICĀ® Round SticĀ® Grip Ballpoint Pen.)

I'll come back if I think of anything else..
posted by bradly at 11:47 PM on July 29, 2010

I expect Botswanan customs cares very little about copyright, and also, I don't think that they'll check out the flash drive.

When I was working in a developing country, I really needed spices (beyond salt, pepper, and fresh garlic - cumin, chili powder, cinnamon, etc). I second books. I think the PC gives volunteers phones, but a pre-paid phone card might be nice. Books are great, but heavy, and the PC maintains a library in all of their offices that volunteers can use. Little things I didn't think I needed - a potato peeler, colorful sharpies, plastic ziploc bags - would have been best. Ask her (or her mom) if she has a wishlist. Oh, also things like clif bars, dried fruit, and trail mix - this might depend on regional cuisine; ours didn't include a lot of protein. I think Botswana's doesn't include a lot of spice, but I might be incorrect on that. I would include some pictures, both on the flash (if there's room) and developed. Also, you can download a lot of decent novels on Project Gutenburg (which hosts books who are in the public domain, like Little Women or a lot of Dostoyevsky) - those might be a cost- and weight-efficient way to send her books.
posted by quadrilaterals at 6:41 AM on July 30, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks!
posted by Buffaload at 9:27 AM on July 30, 2010

Thanksgiving was always my favorite (and also most homesick) holiday abroad. When it gets closer to that time of year, a care package with things like cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie spice might be nice!
posted by srah at 1:13 PM on July 30, 2010

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