Culture

D-D-Don't copy that floppy

I'm sure many people have found respectable uses for Google Video. I am not one of those people. I receive links from friends, colleagues and readers on a daily basis, and so far, every link to Google Video has been some hilarious home video of someone singing along to a favorite song, yet another version of someone doing the Numa Numa Dance or an amazing display of yo-yo skills. All of these videos are welcome distractions from the workday, if not entirely useful to my profession.

But today I proudly join the ranks of people who have found work-related content on the video search site--sort of. Here is a video apparently put out by the Software Publishers Association in 1992, intended to introduce young people to the ugly side of software piracy. And, like so many public service announcements before it and since, the people behind this gem chose to communicate their message in a manner that would surely reach the younger generation. They did it with a fantastically cheesy 80s-style rap that manages to be as comical as any Web video I've seen before.

But the entertainment factor aside, the video shows that the folks trying to curb copyright piracy haven't changed their arguments much over the years. In the video, a handful of programmers, game designers and lawyers talk about how kids making illegal copies of "Oregon Trail" affects the software industry and them personally. The basic argument is that software companies robbed of their income won't be able to pay their employees and will decide not to make anymore products, hence no more video games for the kiddies to play. It was only a few months ago at the movie theater that I saw a similar PSA, featuring a stunt man and a movie technician who solemnly told the audience that if we helped spread around pirated copies of blockbuster hits, they would soon be out of work.

Maybe what they say is true, and maybe it's not. I just wish they'd bring back the cheesy rap songs when they lecture me.