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These days, when you chuck a DVD in the slot, you get a ridiculous and bullshit anti-pirating message: Piracy funds organised crime, and will destroy our film and video industry. Piracy costs jobs, and will destroy our music and publishing industry. Piracy funds terrorism, and will destroy our development and your future enjoyment. (The copyright of that message belongs to FACT - Federation Against Copyright Theft. How ironic it is that I'm citing this stuff instead of pirating it. But anyway.)

It's a load of balls. They're trying to scare us into not pirating, and it's not working. Piracy is certainly still happening, and the music, film, publishing and video industries are still making profits. Targeting the gullible, these people have really screwed things up.

But back in the day when VHS ruled all, the Australasian Film & Video Security Office - AFVSO - made a much more clever version. It has since become quite famous, mainly because it is instantly recognisable, even years on, and it was literally everywhere in terms of videos. Why is it so clever? It was designed to be readable even when the viewer fast-forwarded; if played at normal speed, you'd hear a man speaking in a neutral tone, the words "HAVE YOU GOT WHAT YOU PAID FOR" slowly scrolling across the screen, with little tips at the bottom that started with each respective word (for example: "PAID a pirate? Let us know" and "YOU probably wouldn't get this message on a pirate tape"). The larger words could be seen at a higher speed when fast-forwarding, but still visible and readable. The audio message went something like this:

Have you ever bought or rented a videotape that wasn't quite right? It may have been a pirate copy: an illegal and inferior copy for which you paid good money. Pirated tapes are recognisable by poorly-presented or photocopied jackets; poor sound, and/or picture quality; the lack of censor and other labels on the face and spine of the tape; and the absence of warnings, such as this at the beginning of the tape presentation. Pirate tapes rob artists and studios of their rightful income, and add to the cost of a video to the consumer. Video piracy is a major problem in Australia: please help us stop it. If you buy or rent a tape which you believe is not the genuine article, please phone this toll-free number for advice. Or write to Post Office Box 515, Mona Vale, New South Wales, 2103. This message is brought to you by the Australasian Film and Video Securities1 Office.

These days, it seems boring as batshit. Partly because he's speaking in a slow tone so as to take up the whole minute that the ad goes for, partly because we've been exposed to all this so often that the last thing you want to hear is another anti-piracy message. (Basically everybody does it, or has done it at some point, these days.)

This ad caught the attention of Danish psytrance group KoxBox. It was sampled for their 2000 single "A Major Problem In Australia", and a few words changed to fit the context of the song: "This sound is brought to you by the Australasian Film & Video Securities Office. Please help us stop it... This is a major problem in Australia, an illegal and inferior sound, for which you paid good money."

Thankfully, this genius and seminal piece of anti-pirating campaigning has been kept around by other means as well. It's still on those old (and in some cases, cracked and warped) video cassettes, of course. It's made it into Danish psytrance. It's even on YouTube (dammit, everything's on YouTube). It's the subject of many a blog on the Intarnut, often with comments with humour or praise. In fact, the YouTube video which I speak of has in the video comments session a footnote after "...poorly-presented or photocopied jackets...": the footnote reads "as is Daryl Somers".

1Sic. However, this could be interpreted as "...The Australian Film and Video Security's Office".

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