By Jared Newman | Wednesday, September 9, 2009 at 12:16 pm
No matter how hard the entertainment industry may try, there’s no avoiding cheesiness in anti-piracy campaigns. Telling someone not to break the law is inherently lame, even if the message is justified.
So I’m thrilled to see that the Software & Information Industry Association is embracing the cheese with a follow-up to “Don’t Copy That Floppy,” the classic anti-piracy video from 1992. Just like the original, the new video features DP (“Disk Protector”) rapping about the dangers of piracy and the injustices of denying content creators their hard-earned cash.
The only thing is, the message has drastically changed. For starters, the SIIA is no longer saying you should buy one copy of software for every computer you use. (“Anything less is like going to the store, taking the disk and walking out the door,” DP used to rap. “It’s called thieving, stealing, taking what’s not yours.”) These days, it’s pretty common for consumers to demand a little more flexibility than one copy per PC.
More importantly, the latest video is not as endearing as the original. Instead of focusing on the moral consequences of ripping off content creators, the the sequel pushes the message that “it’s not just a copy, it’s a crime.” Images of a mother getting arrested for her daughter’s copy schemes accompany a college kid’s nightmares of being locked up and hassled in prison. Accordingly, DP’s voice has grown noticably deeper and more threatening. The video ends with a notorious software pirate, Jeremiah Mondello, warning viewers not to make the same mistakes as him.
The change in tone smacks of desperation. Software piracy has exploded in the 17 years since “Don’t Copy That Floppy,” thanks, of course, to the Internet. And because we’re a more cynical culture now, it’s no longer enough to appeal to the pirate’s conscience — everyone knows the executive’s pockets are affected, too. All that remains is the threat of hard time. For the average person, it’s hard to see that message as anything but, well, lame.