Lessons in DVD piracy: Alice in Blunderland

c: | f: /

Short cinema runs because of pirate DVDs? Gimme a break, Disney.

Odeon appear to be boycotting Tim Burton’s latest attempt at film-making because the studio (good old Masonic Disney Corp) want the theatrical window reduced to 12 weeks from the usual 17 in the UK.

Go Odeon! Show them who’s boss.

See, Disney’s whinging — and largely predictable — comeback is that it’s all the fault of the pirates. Boo hoo if it wasn’t for those pesky pirate DVDs, everyone would go to the cinema first, spend enough money to pay for the DVD pressing in each arbitrarily defined regional area, and then buy a copy afterwards. Preferably two when they release the Special Edition.

Their logic is that by shortening the window of opportunity to see it on the Big Screen and rush the DVD out, everyone who would have gone to the cinema anyway would go and see it; and those that figured they’d pirate it would think “oooh, only 12 weeks, I’d best wait and buy a legit copy instead”.


Pirates of the Carrib-bean-counter

What they’ve failed to realise is this: the main reason pirating is rife is because the corporations put zero effort into DVD packaging. You buy a DVD for £10 or £15, eagerly open the box and find a disc staring at you from inside an otherwise empty plastic case. If there is a leaflet in it, guess what it says: “You’re missing out. DVD is shit, buy a Blu-ray player instead. Chump.”

Where’s the love? Where’s the commitment to quality? My initial thought every time I open a package like this is “hmmph, might as well have downloaded it and burned it myself for £1”.

Of course, when you finally wrestle the disc — barely unscathed — from the vice-like grip of the kevlar central nub and pop it into the machine, you’re treated to:

  • an unskippable studio logo animation / fanfare.
  • an unskippable mini-movie about the devastating effects of DVD piracy on the ring-tailed lemur population of Madagascar.
  • a movie on how much of a tool you were for buying the DVD when Blu-Ray is so much better, regardless of the fact I don’t have a high-definition TV, nor eight speakers.
  • umpteen copyright notices in 38 languages.
  • a disclaimer about how the views of the actors are not those of the studio.
  • trailers for nondescript films from the same studio, interspersed with adverts.
  • a few uninspiring menus.
  • a ropey disc transfer.
  • a layer transition in a completely inappropriate place.
  • a “behind the scenes special feature” which is just a made-for-TV promo containing chunks of the movie combined with vox pops highlighting the awesomeness of everyone involved.
  • a commentary track containing three blokes comparing how great their arses look on-screen (Jason Statham, I’m onto you).

The second reason that DVD pirating exists is because the studios employ people on minimum wage at the pressing and distribution plants. Be honest, when was the last time you saw a pirated DVD that was taped at the cinema? 1998? It’s either ripped off the pre-release, the test screening, or it’s a copy from the pressing plant that some light-fingered tyke has pilfered for a week’s wages. A perfectly reasonable digital copy shrunk to a single disc, without all the unskippable advertising paraphernalia to wade through.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Hind

So besides the studios telling you:

  1. not to buy DVDs from elsewhere in the world
  2. when you do, that you shouldn’t have bought them at all
  3. that you’re helping puppies die by buying them
  4. they’re not responsible for the content, ably demonstrated by making a dog’s breakfast of it all

it’s no wonder piracy is so widespread: the pirates make a better job of making DVDs that people can enjoy than the studios. Stick that up your allegedly un-hackable Blu-ray content and smoke it, Disney / Hollywood.

1 goat could be bothered to write something

    Stef Dawson

    As a follow-up, I did read that the situation is just as bad in Blu-Ray land, the main difference being they swap the condescending “You should have bought this on Blu-Ray” with “Other things we want you to buy on Blu-Ray”.

    One guy’s advice for how to get the maximum enjoyment out of any Blu-Ray disc was this:

    1. Wake up, put disc in player. Press play.
    2. Go to work.
    3. Come back in the evening just in time to have missed all the unskippable content and trailers.
    4. Enjoy the film.

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