New Movies To Display 20 Seconds Of Unskippable Warnings

Martin Brinkmann
May 10, 2012
Updated • May 10, 2012
Music and Video, Video

If you are living in the United States, and like to watch a movie from time to time, you are in for a new treat courtesy of the government, the FBI, ICE, and six major movie studios. According to an Ars Technica, new movies will soon carry two unskippable government warnings, that legit buyers will have to look at before they can actually start watching the movie.

The first notice displays a warning that "the unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted word is illegal", and that "criminal copyright infringement is investigated by federal law enforcement agencies, and " punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of $250,000". The screen shows both the FBI and the ICE logo.

The second warning explains that "piracy is not a victimless crime", and that "more information on how digital theft harms the economy" can be found online.

The best part? The screens are shown one after the other, each for ten seconds, with no option to skip it the first time, or any time thereafter.

Once viewers hit the main play button, they will first see the movie ratings on the screen, before the unskippable warning are displayed on the screen for the next 20 seconds.

If you compare that experience to pirated copies of the movie, you will come to the conclusion that it is less comfortable, which seems a counter-productive thing to do. The warnings may have another effect: It may deter some movie buffs from purchasing new DVD or Blu-Ray movies because of a number of reasons.

  • Copies come without the warnings, resulting in a better experience
  • Legit customers may be insulted by the warnings, as they have bought the DVD or Blu-Ray
  • Having to sit through 20 seconds of warnings every time you pop in a movie adds up to be a colossal waste of time

Some players support codes that let users skip through the unskippable parts. Try pressing stop twice before play again to see if that works for instance. Research on the Internet may help in this regard.

What's your take on this? Will this drive customers towards streaming services or piracy, or will they just sit through the thing without changing habits at all? I for one will return any movie containing such warnings right to the store I bought them in.

Back in 2006, I said the following about a similar experience in cinema, where they let you sit through a series of "piracy is bad warnings" before you can actually watch the movie you paid for.

What the industry currently is doing is to criminalize their customers. Can’t they see that this has one major effect? Customers are getting annoyed by this. If I buy something I don’t want to be reminded that piracy is evil – I want to watch or hear the media i bought – that is all.


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  1. Anders said on January 11, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    I agree about the annoying thing, I have more than one DVD where I can’t skip it and it’s jst a waste of space, like written “pirates” won’t care and customers who’ve paid already – by buying the item – has proved that they aren’t stealing the film. (even if they may have done it before they bought it to see if it was worth their hard-earned, which would make the pirated cop an income and not a loss of profit, I personally own hundreds of dollars worth of movies/games I wouldn’t have bought if I hadn’t seen/played it beforehand…)

    What I do with these “non-skippable” DVD’s is rip and burn them so I can do what I was planning to do when I put it in my DVD; watch the movie.

    Yes, I do know I’m very late in commenting, it’s one of my pet-peeves, I really dislike things that are done without anything useful coming out of it, like just revving a car while standing still, it hurts the car without you getting anything out of it, driving at the red-line however hurts the car too but then you’ll have some excitement and a couple of laughs, so you get at least something for it… :)

  2. Frank White said on May 12, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    I don’t watch movies on my PC and don’t engage in piracy, but I do observe consumer behaviour.

    I see some ordinary users protesting by doing the opposite of what the promoters of this warning intend for them to do: pay for entertainment.

    I see this as driving consumers to behave in a “catch me if you can” mode. This may suppress demand for legitimate movies for a little while and then we’ll have insensitivity to the warning when it becomes obvious that it cannot be enforced. Just like Prohibition could not be enforced.

  3. Q said on May 11, 2012 at 2:21 am

    There was a typo in my previous post (its a big one); “care tactic” should have been “scare tactic”.

    1. TomF said on May 11, 2012 at 11:13 am

      Actually, I thought “care” was appropriate. It was the governments way of showing they care to the MPAA and a thank you for all their campaign contributions. That was how I took it when I read it the first time.

  4. SCBright said on May 11, 2012 at 12:21 am

    What the hell! This is just a way to keep control over people by fear.
    Glad I do not live in the U.S. (how lucky I am).

    If you paid for entertainment, you have the right to not be offended by these ads that ultimately are accusing you of infamous acts that you did not commit.
    Day by day the psychological terrorism grows within the “Land of Freedom.”

  5. Roman ShaRP said on May 10, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    Current copyright system is insane and it’s tokens and procedures are insane too.

  6. Q said on May 10, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    This new warning seems to be a United States Government care tactic. It includes the a pictorial reference to the United States Government Department of Homeland Security, an organization that should not be doing any thing regarding this, but is able to instill fear to United States citizens.

    On a side (but relevant) note, oftentimes the reason for new DRM or a change in DRM is not to reduced piracy (bit is often the official reason), but for the large monetary gains from the licensing of the DRM technology itself. Any sales gained by the alleged anti-piracy tactic are a bonus to the large sums of money received from the licensing of the DRM)

  7. DanTe said on May 10, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    DVDFab removes these stupid warnings as you copy the DVD. :)

  8. Morely the IT Guy said on May 10, 2012 at 8:04 pm

    Yet another method to *encourage* piracy. These warnings have been removed from pirate copies of the movies, eliminating yet another Government-mandated irritant.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on May 10, 2012 at 8:35 pm

      They are probably trying to intimidate the remaining legit buyers from pirating.

      1. JohnMWhite said on May 11, 2012 at 1:30 am

        True, that analogy works much better. I imagine customers would not respond well to a 20 second threat while waiting on their fries that they just paid for.

      2. Martin Brinkmann said on May 11, 2012 at 7:56 am

        Glad that I’m not eating fast food ;)

      3. JohnMWhite said on May 10, 2012 at 10:33 pm

        Agreed, and that is what I find so distasteful – they have just received money from their customers, likely too much money for what the product is (perhaps 2-3 hours of entertainment on a plastic disc), and the first thing the customer is rewarded with is an outright threat. This hostility toward the paying customer is very off-putting. Would people continue to go to McDonalds’ if the first thing they did every single time you walked in the door was scream at you that you had better not think of stealing from the drinking fountain or grabbing some free ice cubes?

        It’s crass and rude from the outset, and demonstrates a complete contempt for the people who keep the industry going. Why should they even bother continuing to support that which treats them with such disdain?

      4. Martin Brinkmann said on May 11, 2012 at 12:00 am

        John, the analogy makes more sense this way: You enter McDonalds, buy food there, and then after you have paid, they tell you that stealing food at McDonalds is bad, and that you will be prosecuted / fined for doing so, before they hand you the food.

  9. Scott said on May 10, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    20 seconds isn’t a big deal, but if I paid for the thing I should be able to FF, Skip, or go to the Main Menu at any time from the instant that disc is read. Those who are going to pirate will pirate – 20 second warning, 3 minute warning, or no warning. Lawyers and bean counters just making themselves more annoying.

  10. Wayfarer said on May 10, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    It’s as moronic as it’s pointless. The paying customer doesn’t need such warnings – the ‘pirate’ doesn’t give a damn about them and erases them from his ‘products’.

    It’s legislation by clerk mentalities who believe it’s their mindless rules that make all our lives life work – as if. And if the rules don’t work, bring in more rules. It’s endless and stupid and produces more problems than the ‘crimes’ they’re designed to fight.

    It’s the dying struggle of an industry so hide-bound it can’t produce a business model to deal with new technology. And it is dying, just as certainly as quill-written books and hand looms died.

    The words ‘goose’ and ‘golden egg’ seem relevant. I vote with my feet and my money – so can you.

  11. Genious said on May 10, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    No thanks, I will download it in a non-drm infested format without all this bogus brainwashing bullshit based on made up numbers by an untrustworthy company such as the MPAA.

  12. OblongCircles said on May 10, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    Ok, seriously, quit whining! I’m sure you can find other time-wasters you engage in daily that suck away more than 20 seconds of your precious time (texting, watching TV, browsing the web aimlessly).

    While I agree that these warnings serve no real purpose since pirates are going to do what they do until it is no longer profitable to them. Especially for the pirates making millions, $250k is a slap on the wrist and you can rest assured that they can afford lawyers that guarantee they never spend a second behind bars.

    I believe it is just a way for a couple of government agencies to show they are earning your tax dollars. It is also a way to display their power.

    Bottom line, use that 20 seconds of warnings and the proceeding 5 minutes of movie ads to get your refreshments ready – throw the popcorn in the microwave, bust out the candy & chips & soda. Make a game of it and your actual movie will be ready to press play when you’re done.

    It’s 20 seconds, get over it. Go hug your loved ones or play with your pets for 20 seconds. If really need to complain, protest and/or whine – try tackling homelessness, poverty, crimes against humanity in 3rd world countries etc…aim higher because you can.

    1. JohnMWhite said on May 10, 2012 at 3:10 pm

      What pirates are making millions? One person so far has been alleged to have made an enormous amount of money from distributing pirated materials, the owner of Megaupload, and that was a file service that was at least ostensibly built for legitimate use and the cash came from memberships and advertising. It’s not the 1990s anymore – Piracy is generally just somebody ripping a DVD and sharing it on a torrent or uploading a TV show to a file-sharer so people in one region don’t have to wait three months to see it. It’s not some grand scheme to make money. College students and even children have been targeted by movie and music studios and they don’t have expensive lawyers and a quarter million dollars lying around.

      The only one coming across as whining is you right now. Your shrill protest at what is a point of principle demonstrates you have no idea what you’re talking about, you’re just reacting with impudent anger. Your attitude sounds strikingly similar to the studios we’re talking about here – consumers who have paid for a product should not have to make a game out of having their time wasted with insulting threats and obnoxious advertisements they did not invite. Telling them “too bad, get over it” won’t endear you to anyone.

  13. world of lies said on May 10, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    Yet a rapist or murderer can get less than that and even parole !

    It’s all about making money

  14. hal9000 said on May 10, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    Its soo long since I bought a dvd or blueray I forgot that there were these issues.
    Luckily when the dvd rip of blueray rip comes out the kind rippers remove all this sh1t so we don’t have to endue it.
    Thank god for ripping crews saving us from this.. :)

  15. Yoav said on May 10, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    This stuff drives me crazy – I have DVDs from the nineties, and a decade and half later I still have to watch the commercials and warnings before I get to see the movie I bought. The movie studios must really hate their customers!

    1. JohnMWhite said on May 10, 2012 at 3:02 pm

      They do. I honestly believe that – by their actions and attitude, movie studios continually show an outright hostility toward the people who are paying their wages. Then they wonder why that hostility is reflected back by a near-complete apathy of the public toward piracy.

  16. Roebie said on May 10, 2012 at 10:25 am

    In Belgium (and many other European countries) warnings like that appear on movies for as long as I can remember. I don’t think sales are lower here than any other country.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on May 10, 2012 at 10:29 am

      In the U.S. they have also been there before, but this one adds another unpleasant unskippable screen to the movie. It is likely that there is not a single country in the world where those warnings are not displayed in one form or the other.

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