DVDs and Blu-rays Will Soon Waste More Time with New Unskippable Piracy Warnings

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In a move that seems like it will encourage piracy rather than curb it, the U.S. government is adding new warning messages that can't be skipped at the outset of DVD and Blu-ray movies. And there won't just be one--there will be two, one to "warn" and one to "educate."

According to Ars Technica, the move is on behalf of both the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. Ars notes that six major movie studios will employ the notices immediately.

It's basically the old FBI warning you've always had to sit through, but updated--and better (or, depending on your viewpoint, worse): There are two copyright notices, and they last 10 unskippable seconds each. The FBI anti-piracy logo and warning remain, though it's now joined by an intimidating Homeland Security Investigations "Special Agent" badge. That warning, which includes the standard notification that piracy can result in up to five years in jail and a $250,000 fine, runs for 10 seconds after the previews (if present) and before the menu loads.

The FBI/Homeland Security warning is followed by a new warning, which bears the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center's seal--a furious-looking eagle clutching a "Protection is our trademark" ribbon in its talons. This new message reads: "Piracy is not a victimless crime." (File that under "goes without saying," because…doesn't it?) Below that is a link to the IPR Center website. This second message runs for an additional 10 seconds, which means you have to wait a total of 20 seconds before you can view the disc's content.

Are the copyright infringement warnings on the back of DVD and Blu-ray cases not sufficient? And if not, wouldn't making them more prominent on the cases or the disc labels themselves be a better next step than sullying the viewing experience by in essence hanging a sign in the sky that reads "Color: blue"? And speaking to habitual pirates, does the government really think these warnings are going to somehow change hearts and minds? Has anyone who's been prosecuted for copyright infringement ever dodged a bullet because they claimed they didn't know better for lack of seeing one of these warnings?

I'd like to see serious studies that validate this approach, that actually prove displaying these kinds of mandatory messages either (a) inform people of things they don't already know perfectly well, and (b) actually mitigate copyright infringement. Barring that, the messages simply amount to more bureaucracy -- another government/industry maneuver that'll annoy (and in some cases, infuriate) legitimate consumers.

If you've already started forgoing physical copies of movies and waiting to view them via streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu, I suspect this move will only increase the transition.

Matt Peckham writes for Time and PCWorld. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+, and follow Today@PCWorld on Twitter for the latest tech news and analysis.

This story, "DVDs and Blu-rays Will Soon Waste More Time with New Unskippable Piracy Warnings" was originally published by PCWorld.

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