Kevin Carr

WTF: FBI Warnings

Features By Kevin Carr on September 10, 2008 | (26) Comments

I copied this FBI Warning from a DVD!

Maybe it’s because I’ve been feeling under the weather this week that nothing is really getting me riled up about Hollywood right now. Sure, you’ve got that whole Rear Window/Disturbia thing, but that sets me off about as much as the judge deeming that the “Harry Potter Lexicon” violated copyright. Snoozefest!

However, since I have been feeling sick this week, I’ve been spending quite a bit of time watching television. Some of the TV has been recorded shows from the swanky DVR set-up I recently switched to. But a lot of the TV watching has been DVDs, namely all the TV-on-DVD that I have to plow through during this time of the year.

The problem with TV-on-DVD is that you have to load three to seven discs to get through an entire show. I’m not complaining about having to hit eject and walk my lazy ass over to the DVD player to switch discs. Instead, I’m talking about all the friggin’ disclaimers I’m forced to sit through every time I load a disc.

Blue-screen FBI warning… Private home viewing warning… Legalese about commentaries not being the opinion of the studios… French and Spanish translations for previous warnings… and all this after the studio logo and previews, leading to the animated menu.

What the FBI?

I know that some of these (like the previews) can be bypassed by hitting the “Menu” or the “Skip Forward” button. But this sort of thing doesn’t work for all the warning screens.

Sure, it’s a minor inconvenience and only eats 20 seconds or so. But why do I have to watch it every time I put in a disc?

Back in the days of VHS, you could always scan through the 30 seconds of leader tape and FBI warning to get to the good stuff. But in the digital days of DVDs, you end up looking at that stupid Federal Warning blue screen on practically every disc that’s watched.

Not to make a federal case out of this (pun intended), but why can’t all the studios be cool like Universal and let us skip past the warnings. After all, now that I’ve seen literally hundreds of DVDs, haven’t I been duly warned?

Who can’t recite that stupid warning from heart? Who hasn’t taken notice of that thing? Who doesn’t know that copyright infringement is punishable by up to five years in jail and a $250,000 fine? And does anyone really believe that someone planning a video piracy operation is going to see those warnings and have a change of heart?

You know that someone in some court case claimed he didn’t know it was illegal to copy DVDs, and now all the lawyers at the studios are making us pay the price. After all, those warning screens may only eat up 20 seconds of my life each time I watch a video, but I watch an estimated ten DVDs or more a week. Over the course of a year, that’s at least 173 minutes. That’s close to three hours of my life I have spent watching that stupid FBI warning and other crap at the beginning of DVDs… each year!

I could have spent that three hours doing something more productive… like watching nine episodes of “Sister, Sister: The Complete Third Season.”

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