"It made once the turn of the world since and now it returns under our latitudes" (DVD Piracy, Part Two)

  • 3/08/2007 05:07:00 pm
  • By Mark Gibbings-Jones

Blimey, eh? We lose our internet access for a few days, and what happens when we're not here? The entire internet (i.e. a few well known blogs) goes BrokenTV crazy (i.e. mention us, and the hit counter goes up for one day). If Google fancy buying us out for several squillion dollars, please leave a comment.

Why has this happened? Partly because Kotaku mentioned our Lost: The Spectrum Game spoof, which was entirely unexpected as it was pretty much a throwaway gag. Simultaneously, several blogs have picked up on an anti-anti-piracy advert we put on the site almost exactly one year ago:

BoingBoing have mentioned it, Wonderland have mentioned it, even one of France's most popular technology blogs (as far as we can tell, anyway) have posted it, among others. "C'est un coup de McFly," apparently. Plop that last site into Altavista's translation engine to find out what that means, and you'll get the super bonus of a copy of this blog translated into French, then back into English: "the insufferably smug Payne family cuts Christmas has big comedy gravel bank of aspirin."

But, something we'd forgot to mention at the time, was that we'd actually chased up the story, as if we were proper journalists or something. The fact that we'd promptly got distracted by a shiny object and never got around to telling anyone proves why we're not the Blogger equivalent of Cassandra, but we now aim to rectify the matter.


Taking the contact address from FACT's binary white elephant website, we fired off the following missive:

From: [BrokenTV]
To: info@piracyisacrime.co.uk
Subject: Important piracy question


Speaking as someone who has a collection of over 300 legally-bought DVDs, I've got one important question to ask you. If DVD piracy is such a crime, why do you insist on punishing the people who go out and buy their DVDs legally by making them WATCH A STUPID PATRONISING UNSKIPPABLE ADVERT, TELLING THEM NOT TO DO WHAT THEY HAVEN'T EVEN DONE, BECAUSE THEY'VE GONE AND BOUGHT THE BLOODY DVD FROM A SHOP, EVERY SINGLE BLOODY TIME THEY WANT TO WATCH ONE OF THEIR LEGALLY BOUGHT DVDS? Genuine question, mind.

It's almost as if you WANT them to start downloading movies and TV shows instead, just to avoid getting patronised to within an inch of their sanity every time they fancy watching an episode of My Name Is Earl or Rising Damp. You see, the point of trying to make people PREFER buying their DVDs legally, is to make buying them legally preferable to getting a bootlegged version down the car boot sale or firing up a bittorrent site.

Don't worry, I'm not about to start doing that, I'm just going to start buying region one versions instead. What with them being cheaper, having better extras, and not containing the visual equivilent of a gestapo officer banging on my door every time I watch a film, demanding to see a receipt for the DVD.

In summary: at least make the infuriatingly condescending things skippable. Really. If I wanted to be lectured at in my own front room, I'd move in with the Revd Ian Paisley.

A Really Annoyed Consumer.

Three days later, the following reply rattled our inbox:

Dear [BrokenTV],

Thanks for your email. We do understand your feedback regarding anti-piracy trailers on legitimate DVDs and we are sorry that you feel this way.

The reason this is the case is that, from our extensive research, we know that many people who buy counterfeit products also buy legitimate products. Therefore, the placement of anti-piracy trailers on legitimate DVDs is still an essential way of targeting those who also buy pirated copies.

We are, however, reviewing our message and hope you can be patient while we do so.


[Someone Just Doing Her Job]
Communications Manager / Assistant to Director General
Well. We don't know about you, but we're utterly placated by the above mail-merged reply.

If, and let's be really generous with our figures here, 30% of the people who buy legitimate DVDs decide that paying a whopping £4.99 for a proper copy of Batman Begins is a frankly horrid state of affairs. Instead, they wait for the next car boot sale to come along, and spend £4 on a pirate version in a badly photocopied sleeve from there instead.

Now, all FACT have to do is wait until the evil 30% of the DVD buying public sit down to watch one of their few 'proper' DVDs. Presumably these are second hand DVDs they shoplifted from a Cancer Research charity shop, or maybe they just burgled someone's house for them, it doesn't really matter. As soon as they get past the unskippable copyright warning, they'll be faced with the anti-piracy trailer. How will they react?


Once Johnny Evil30%ofDVDbuyingpublic sees the FACT anti-piracy trailer, which of the following is he going to think?

(a) "Tch. They're right, of course. I wouldn't steal a car, or more accurately, infringe upon the copyright of a vehicle manufacturer, and then make an exact replica of someone else's car and use that instead. That's a perfect example of something I would never be likely to do. I feel shamed. I'm off to HMV to buy fifteen copies of X-Men 3. I only hope Jesus will forgive me."


(b) "Tch. That's quite annoying. I'm glad I usually watch pirate copies of DVDs, where I don't have to put up with that. I think I'll just stop buying DVDs from shops, and download them instead."


It's (a), obviously. No, it is. Why? Because if it isn't, FACT (or Industry Trust for IP Awareness, or whatever they're calling themselves this week) are a bunch of massively stupid idiots who are clearly incapable of performing the sole task they have been appointed to do.

Now, we feel pretty bad about being nasty about their actions, especially as our poster is being passed around the internet like a sordid classroom scrawling of the teacher with a penis on his head. If, like us, you feel FACT have done exactly the right thing in assuming every single person who buys DVDs is a criminal, and talking down to them as such, why not get in touch with them? You can do so by emailing the following address: info@piracyisacrime.co.uk.

Don't forget to tell them how super they all are, and how if it wasn't for their actions, we'd all be off murdering puppies about now.

As for us? Well, we've noticed that a lot of child abusers tend to drive cars. With that in mind, we've decided to lobby Parliament and the motor industry into introducing a new measure. With any luck, from next year, every time you start the engine of your car, you will be forced to listen to a graphic three minute speech about child abuse before you can actually go anywhere. Don't like the sound of that? Tough shit, it's for the greater good.

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