New White House-Backed Anti-Piracy PSA Misses the Mark, Unsurprisingly

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Piracy is bad, mmkay? No, that’s not exactly what this new White House-backed anti-piracy PSA says, but it would be far more effective than its mantra of “only a few dollars,” which is as irrelevant as it is nonsensical. Yes, there’s a new entry in the tradition of painfully misguided anti-piracy PSAs and this one aims all its ire at strange, peripheral targets and only hits them ineffectually. Hey guys, buying counterfeit DVDs directly causes crime, and leads to drugs apparently.

If that’s the case, then we should all just stop buying counterfeit DVDs, right? Definitely. I don’t think anyone would disagree. It’s “only a few dollars,” but those few dollars are probably going to some unsavory individuals and definitely aren’t going to any creators. I follow you that far. The question is: If you aren’t buying counterfeit DVDs from street vendors, what’s the next best alternative? If you ask the White House, it’s clearly buying the legitimate DVDs. If you ask pretty much anyone from the Internet, it’s direct piracy. Cut out the middle man, right?

On top of the mistake of attacking the superfluous counterfeit DVD sales market, the PSA doesn’t even clearly articulate the appropriate alternative. Sure, the couple doesn’t give “only a few dollars” to the supernaturally sinister man, but for all we know, they’re just going home to boot up μTorrent. I mean really, who buys counterfeit DVDs anyway?

Anti-piracy PSAs have a long history of missing the mark, and this is no different. So they’ve mainly riffed on two classic (and absurd) fallacies

And now, they’re just swinging wildly at one of the more minor problems of piracy. Maybe I’m just out of touch with the counterfeit goods market, but whatever the case, that’s its own problem to be tackled directly, distinct from piracy. The waters are already muddy enough.

Someday, I hope to see the official anti-piracy ad I think we’d all respond better to: “Don’t be a dick. Also, if you want more of the things you like, how about giving the people who make the things you like a little bit of money? Not only in exchange for the thing you like, but also so they can make more things you will like in the future. It’s like two things for the price of one!”

So everybody, please remember to support your local gangs by buying drugs and weapons directly instead of funding them inefficiently through the purchase of counterfeit DVDs that will look horrible on your shelf anyways. Or something.

(via Ars Technica)

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