Thursday, 8 March 2007

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

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]
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:

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.

19 .:

NJ said...

I don't think the human brain is capable of handling that amount of sarcasm in such a confined space.

Anonymous said...

Here in Australia we are really sticking it to those misfits who legitimately buy dvds and who may or may not consider buying pirate copies or indeed actually stealing a dvd after the thrill of buying them wears out.
So you have the warning on the dvd, there is also a giant metal sticker (coloured black so you won't notice unless of course the inside DVD colour is anything but black). There is also a locking mechanism that doesn't always get unlocked on the side. Then there is a plastic wrapper, then depending where you shop they may put a sticker over the seal. Then they put it inside a bag and seal that bag with 'store branded' tape and then the woman at the entrance to the shop will stop you and go through your undies in your gym bag to make sure you aren't a filthy little thief and of course then there are the sensor gates that go off because your wallet still has a tiny stupid little sticker hidden in it from a year ago.

As if this is enough to stop the dope fiends!

I say every time you wish to watch your dvd you should have to ring up and get a unlocking code. During working hours of course.

Sorry about writing so much I just feel so strongly about stopping pirates!

LOL cheers for commenting over at my blog I think I've got another post coming regarding this!

row said...

Hi Mark X

I'm just writing to let you know that Broken TV is featured in BBC Collective's web column this week but couldn't mind a better place to mention it... sorry if I'm being slow. You can see it here, should you want to:

Best wishes

Rowan Kerek

Content Producer
"Nevermind the 'online' qualifier; BBC Collective is among the most consistently engaging cultural outlets around, period" - Flavourpill

Rob Cottingham said...

Your graphic's also in Rojo's weekly email newsletter (they hat-tip it to Wonderland).

Mark X said...

Cheers to Row and Rob for that, I keep an irregular eye on the superb Collective site, so it's especially nice to get a mention on there. I feel a bit bad about putting a great big sweary jpeg up on the blog just in time to get linked to from a BBC Collective article. I may have to Photoshop in a dinner jacket to the DVD leaflet chap.

Mark X said...

Oh, and no problem Lee, it's a pretty spiffy blog you've got there. It lives at if any commentgoers want to check it out.

(Although I feel compelled to deduct one point for overuse of the 'lens flare' filter, leaving a still impressive overall score of 7.5/10)

Anonymous said...

hmmm, so how do you rate the TV License then?

Mark X said...

Given that every BBC programme *isn't* preceded by a patronising minute long advert telling you that not buying a TV licence makes baby Jesus cry, that would prevent all of the buttons on your TV remote from working so you can't ever avoid it, I'm fine with it.

Heck, given it means I can enjoy not just some of the best TV in the world (BBC Four have got a welcome repeat of Michael Palin's Full Circle going on in the corner of my room right now), listen to 6Music all day at work, and enjoy what is probably the best website currently on the web, all without having to encounter an advert for debt consolidation or Safestyle Windows, it's one of the best bargains you're likely to encounter.

And I'm not just saying that because part of their website has said a nice thing about this blog, either. Just imagine a world where every TV channel was like ITV1 or Sky One, or each radio station was like Virgin. Brr.

Anonymous said...

Fuck me, you're in the Guardian Guide!

Anonymous said...

this has annoyed me equally for years ; however, buying region one DVDs won't help - they have a message from the FBI, often in English AND Spanish, and although the idea of the FBI coming after you for an unauthorised airing of the DVD in public is initially amusing, it gets annoying very fast. I do find it quite funny, though, on the odd occasions where i have accidentally watched a bootleg DVD, when someone has copied the anti-piracy message too.

Mark X said...

Fucking heck, I AM in the Guardian Guide.

Anonymous said...

As one enraged TV watcher to another, I just wanted to say congratulations: the Guardian Guide compared you to Charlie Brooker. That makes you Jesus now.

Anonymous said...

Well, suck me sideways if Mark X hasn't gone and got all famous on us. Congratulations, my friend; the coverage is well deserved. Keep up the good work.

Mark X said...

Cheers, Thrift-o. Now update your blog, gosh darn it. I need more poker tips that I almost-but-not-quite understand.

Anonymous said...

I seem to remember buying Seinfeld or some crap like that and after every goddamn episode there was a copyright warning that I couldn't skip, not just in English mind, half a dozen fooking languages including Hebrew.
Drove me insane. On a related note what DVD's can people on oil rigs watch legally? I feel sorry for the poor fellas, not much else to do other than shoot seagulls.

Anonymous said...

It reminds me of the lectures they used to give us in (8:55am) assemblies at school, on the importance of punctuality. Or, for that matter, on not playing truant.

Anonymous said...

I don't so much disagree with illegal copying of movies (commonly mislabeled piracy - but face it, do you see any swords?) is 'fair' or 'not fair'

I do disagree with being treated like a moron for actually forking over (up to) $100 for a movie or a boxed set of tv series and being forced to listen/watch anti-piracy messages knowing full well that if I'd pirated the movie/boxed set that I wouldn't have to watch the crap.

Having said that - I do download movies. Why? Well, to see them. I download the movies I wouldn't normally consider buying - or am only partially interested in seeing. So really no profit loss to the big corps is there. But wait - there's a hidden bonus here. Sometimes I download a movie I think is going to be crap and not worth the effort, and it turns out it actually is - and I go buy it!

So hang on, it not only isn't part of the millions of 'lost' revenew that the industry claims 'piracy' costs it but it actually is profit because someone might be convinced to buy a film they otherwise wouldn't have?

OMG, what a thought.

Games have been doing it for a while, release a demo - and those who were only partially interested may be convinced to buy it as opposed to copy it. I see downloading movies as a form of demoing - face it the quality of most early release downloads is crap.

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