One of my favourite inventions of all time is the Fast Forward button and it is with a great deal of pleasure that I use it to scythe through audiovisual dross at incremental speeds.
However, the Fast Forward button has a sworn enemy. It is called Copyright Notice and it can be found lurking at the beginning of the vast majority of new DVDs.
A 12-disc box set of the first three seasons of Breaking Bad is currently top of the playlist in the Cousins household and my wife and I have been known to watch as many as three episodes in the one sitting.
When it comes to viewing a TV show, I am a big fan of the box set system. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as sitting down to watch a show in the knowledge that you can watch as many consecutive episodes as you like rather than having to wait seven days at a time for a 40-minute blast of your favourite programme.
As a consequence of our Breaking Bad binge, at the beginning of each session of episodes, we are faced with the dreaded Copyright Notice.
Despite trying every combination of buttons on the remote I am unable to skip or fast forward this notification. It makes me very angry indeed.
I paid for the DVD so it’s my assertion I should be able to skip this languid introduction. As a paying customer I’m being denied the basic right to opt out.
If I was in a restaurant and I ordered a three course meal I wouldn’t expect the waiter to come to my table and inform me that he wasn’t bringing me my main course until I’d finished my starter. Furthermore I wouldn’t expect him to force feed me the remaining three spoonfuls of my underwhelming prawn cocktail so that I could proceed to my porterhouse steak and triple cooked chips.
This is exactly what those people who put an unskippable Copyright Notice at the beginning of DVDs are doing - stuffing things we don’t want down our throats (via our eyes).
Included in the Copyright Notice is a series of locations where you aren’t allowed to publicly broadcast your DVD. One of those locations is an oil rig.
What I want to know is how many times someone has been scooped for having a public screening of a DVD on an oil rig.
Even the most vengeful, stealthy and masterfully-disguised enforcement officer is extremely unlikely to just drop in on an oil rig on the off chance that he’ll catch a group of employees in the canteen-cum-cinema in the middle of a Sylvester Stallone box set marathon.
Perhaps it would be more feasible, though considerably less cost effective, to plant high-tech surveillance equipment on the rig and have a SWAT team on stand-by to launch a strike as soon as they hear the theme from Rocky.
Or maybe they just rely on the honesty and solitude of oil rig employees.
To get back to the original point, my concern is that having over-ridden the functionality of the Fast Forward button to accommodate the Copyright Notice, it’s only a matter of time before advertising companies start spending big bucks to specify that their ads can’t be skipped. It’s already happening in some cases online.
First the Fast Forward button is compromised. Next they may try to remove the Rewind button? If they do that, there’s no going back.