Hollywood, Homeland Security Double Up Video Piracy Warnings

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Movie TheaterIf you thought the unskippable FBI warning about piracy included on every DVD was annoying before, it's about to get even worse.

Soon, home entertainment customers will have to sit through an additional pre-roll message, brought to you by Homeland Security. Yes, Homeland Security.

In a joint press release, the FBI and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement division of the Homeland Security Investigations Bureau announced the additional warning screen. Like the FBI stamp -- which warns of jail time and massive fines for intellectual property lawbreakers -- viewers will not be able to skip or fast-forward through the tsk-tsking.

With six unnamed movie studios (presumably the fabled "Big Six") already agreeing to add the new warning screen, you'd better start getting used to staring at this:

Time Out -- Everyone!

The beefed up warnings are obviously aimed at those who make or buy pirated content. Ironically, the law of unintended consequences most definitely applies here.

The effort to educate us on the evils of piracy just might make pirates' video booty more appealing. After all, pirates mostly strip out those warnings before they sell their illegal downloads or flea-market DVDs, giving customers quicker access to the content they want.

Still, viewers may not ever be able to avoid the studio scare tactics -- even on channels they pay subscription money to access.

Gallery: Ways Hollywood Can Save the Local Multiplex

Netflix (NFLX) streams were blissfully free of FBI warnings for years. But I recently ran across an FBI badge attached to a Netflix stream. That particular film was an off-off-off-Hollywood piece of ballet instruction made for PBS and school libraries. (Don't judge -- I have a 6-year-old daughter.) So there's not even a megastudio mandate behind it.

Add warning bells and antipiracy whistles to every legally licensed consumption venue and it starts to seem like there's no way to simply sit back and enjoy the movie anymore.

Motley Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares of and h s created a bull call spread on Netflix but holds no other position in any of the companies mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Netflix. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Netflix.

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