New unskippable FBI warnings for US DVDs and Blu-rays
Legitimate customers are getting a special gift when they buy DVDs and Blu-rays in America: 20 seconds of unskippable anti-piracy warnings!
With sales of DVDs and Blu-rays not bringing in the money that studios used to enjoy a few years' back, you'd think that all concerned would be doing everything possible to make disc-based movies as enticing as possible. To reward honest customers. To make sure that buying a disc is a no-brainer.
And then you happen across a story like this.
Basically, in the US, Immigration and Customs Enforcement - ICE to its presumably very few friends - has come up with a plan to help in the ongoing fight against piracy. Would this be, you'd rightly ask, something that legitimately deters people from buying a pirate disc, or downloading something illegally? Has it come up with a clever and cunning plan to enrich the value of buying a disc in the first place?
Nope. It's come up with a plan that, bluntly, can do little but piss off a legitimate, honest customer.
ICE has decided, in its clear wisdom, that what those who legally buy DVDs and Blu-rays require is some education. To that end, it has decided to add two unskippable warnings to future disc releases. The key word there, we might add, is 'unskippable'.
So, basically, if for example you go and buy your copy of The Avengers or The Dark Knight Rises Blu-ray on day one, rather than getting hold of the film in a manner that does the film makers and those behind the movie no benefit whatsoever, then you're going to get a pair of warnings. Both will last ten seconds, and you can't skip through either. One will tell you copying the disc is illegal, and could land you with a big fine. The other will tell you that piracy is not a victimless crime.
We're not quite sure where to start here. To be fair, the battle against piracy isn't an easy one, and to an extent, those involved are damned if they do, damned if they don't. But it seems to beggar belief that it's the honest customers who get penalised here. We wouldn't in a million years advocate piracy, and nor will these warnings stop us buying a disc (it remains the best way to watch a film at home). But it's a bit of a punch in the gut for the people who shell out for their movies. The irony, as always, is that the pirates won't be inconvenienced by this at all.
In the UK, they've gone about this in a slightly different way, and a far better one, for our money. Instead of hitting you with a big unskippable warning, you get a cheesy animation that thanks you for buying a proper disc, and supporting the film industry. It's skippable, too.
Isn't that the better way round to go?
Not for the first time, the wrong people appear to be in the firing line for anti-piracy measures. And, as usual, the ones who get kicked in the guts are the very people the industry should, surely, be cherishing.
We'll leave the last word to John Morton, the director of ICE. Here's what he said in a statement:
"Our nation’s film and TV business is critical to our economy. Its creativity and imagination have made American entertainment one of our greatest exports over the decades, but criminals are increasingly engaging in new forms of digital theft. Law enforcement must continue to expand how it combats criminal activity. Public awareness and education are a critical part of that effort.”