Why We Hate the MPAA and RIAA


Tonight, as I was attempting to watch a DVD—legally obtained from Netflix, mind you—of Mad Men (excellent), I suddenly realized why it is that we don’t want the MPAA, RIAA and their ilk to continue to thrust their hooks into every aspect of our media perceiving habits.

It’s because they will abuse their power.

I can’t count the number of DVDs I’ve watched where I am forced, through agreement between the studios and the player manufacturers, to watch the same damned FBI or INTERPOL warning. (United States Code, Title 17, Sections 501 and 506, in case you’re interested.) You usually can’t skip it by pressing the “Next” button, and a lot of the time, you can’t fast forward, either. OK, so it might be in their best interest to make sure that we, the non-infringing consumers, know the law is on their side if we copy their movies and sell them in a market in China or, God forbid! show them in the church basement at a lock-in. That might be an acceptable use of their power.

The problem is, the studios are drunk with their power and the lawyers can’t get enough of themselves. Not only do we have to endure the FBI and INTERPOL warnings, but we also have to endure a stern warning that the studios have no idea what the audio commentary on the DVD may or may not say and, in fact, deny and disavow any relationship with any of that audio commentary because they might or might not agree with and/or disagree with the audio commentary recorded therein. Nevermind the fact that (1) I don’t ever listen to those commentaries and that (2) most sane individuals wouldn’t think that Jon Hamm’s opinion of the coloring of that one scene was particularly bad was particularly licentious and ascribe it to the studio, its producers, lawyers, environmental awareness team, or cafeteria staff and thereby find reason to sue the studio for the unspeakable horror inflicted upon the viewer/listener.

No, no, no… by simply putting this mandatory 15 second waste of your life into your viewing experience, the studio somehow becomes instantly innocent even if you are just nuts enough to sue their precious studio because Jon Hamm expressed some odd opinion that offended your color temperature.

But maybe that’s an acceptable use of their power because it keeps lawyers from being able to take on that particular suit, thereby saving the studio the cost of defending it and lowering the cost of the movies for the consumers. (Brief pause while I clean the milk off the screen from my perfectly-executed spit-take.)

Unfortunately, the studios go way too far. Why, for goodness’ sake, must I sit through the frickin’ studio’s overwrought and egotistical “splash screen,” for lack of better term?! (Lionsgate, I am talkin’ directly to you.) I can’t fast forward or skip it, and yet each time I put the disc in, I must endure those stupid gears meshing in all of their glory to express just how… just how something Lionsgate is, regardless of the fact that I don’t give a rat’s ass what production company or companies made the film—I remember the film for the film and definitely not for the producers, the production company or the movie studio.

I suppose that the reason I have to watch the production company’s “splash screen” has something to do with the guy who signed the check at Lionsgate looking at the end product and realizing that unless people actually saw what he spent their money on, nobody would ever see it because it’s boring and meaningless and they’d skip it anyway. “Sherri, get the DVD encoding house on the line. I want to force our viewers to see that crap I just spent all that dough on…”

Narcissism, thy name is Lionsgate.

The scary thing is that I know we’re only seeing the beginning of this abuse of the consumer and the abuse of the studios’ power. And if I knew of a way to revolt, I would.

Sigh. I guess I’ll just bend over and take it just like everybody else.

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