The Great Political Excuse now has Commercial Applications
I got a 70s rock musical DVD it doesn’t matter which one because frankly it’s embarrassing. The movie was pretty forgettable but my attention was snared by the short, unskippable little Copyright ad that preceded it. It’s of a devilish blacksmith (red-eyed and sweaty) forging a © in his smithy whilst the voice-over lays down the evils of copyright infringement. The text runs like this:
The Pirates are out to get you. Don’t let them brand you. Piracy funds organised crime; piracy will destroy our film and video industry. Piracy costs jobs and will destroy our music and publishing industry.
And then, in easy run-on, is this:
Piracy funds terrorism. Piracy will destroy our development and your future enjoyment. Copyright is a matter of fact.
Of course, as this is a dramatically didactic little piece, I can undestand they have to find effective and (un)hyperbolic means to convey a message. But did FACT (and yes, that is the name of the company) have to resort to such (possibly) spurious and inflammatory statements? I’ve had people peddling hot or burnt DVDs at my door, and they definitely didn’t look like the purveyors of desperate hate crimes. I’ve got a feeling that FACT is co-opting the political theme du jour to tap into a little good old fear themselves to get people to take copyright issues seriously. Or am I reading it wrong?
I decided to ring up the Irish chapter of the body. I got a nice but defensive lady on the phone who instantly assumed I was media. No, I said, I’m a concerned consumer. I asked if there was a factual basis for making such an associative claim with terrorism, or reasearch warranting it. At first she said that this is confidential business stuff and hence not discussable on the phone, but she elaborated to say that the company would obviously have a legitimate basis for making such a claim if it did.
I’ve checked out the FACT website
and can’t find the word terrorism anywhere on it; so, pending further clarification on the issue (by calling the English office, by follow-up emails, letters to editors etc etc) I’m drawn to conclude that this dramatic but subtly inflammatory statement will not raise more than an eyebrow. Don’t get me wrong, I think Copyright is a serious issue that demands good thinking and a fair reflection of ownership, but I also give a damn about media standards and I don’t want to see important and or dangerous political approaches to rhetoric creep into private consumption. Especially if this cheapens legitimate terminology and debate, so that everyone can start throwing illegitimate terms around to make an impression. I think the link to organised crime is a fair one to make in general, but any objective relation with terrorism is probably closer to our petrol pumps than the nearly 1 in 3 illegitimate videos sold in Britain.
Unless, of course, there are objective and verifiable facts which FACT are withholding. I’m all ears. Because otherwise I’m forced to conclude that there’s a spurious link, at best, between terrorism and organised piracy; and that the claim is merely employed as a subtle suggestion which insults people’s intelligence and good faith, further blurring that once-proud distinction between newsy truth and entertainment technique.