MPAA And Its Priorities: Asks US Gov't To Stop Soldiers From Buying Bootleg DVDs

from the maybe-if-you-made-the-movies-available... dept

Apparently, it’s difficult for US soldiers in places like Iraq to get access to Hollywood movies legitimately, so it should come as little surprise that they might pick up bootleg DVDs to keep up with what they’re missing back at home. Rather than actually supplying content for the military, it appears the MPAA decided to send a letter asking for details about how US Central Command is stomping out this practice, and asking if it will ban soldiers from going into stores that sell bootleg DVDs. Thankfully, USCC said “no,” noting that it didn’t want to harm Iraqi entrepreneurs and had no jurisdiction over shops selling bootlegs… while also suggesting that “the provision of popular entertainment like first-run movies, concerts and other events will help to curtail the demand for pirated media.” In other words, stop worrying about piracy and maybe send over some movies for us to watch already.

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Comments on “MPAA And Its Priorities: Asks US Gov't To Stop Soldiers From Buying Bootleg DVDs”

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KnownHuman (profile) says:

When I was leaving Iraq, a little over six years ago, we had to go through a cursory customs inspection by the Air Force. They were looking for weapons and anything that might be considered an illegal spoil of war (basically anything beyond flags and unregistered bayonets). However, they didn’t expect to find any of these, so they spent most of their attention on our DVD and CD collections.

The rule was, and again, this was six years ago, a soldier was allowed to have up to two bootleg copies of any individual title. Anything more than that would be confiscated as something similar to “intent to distribute.”

Made us all wonder what kind of world we were coming back to, especially since there was this crazy rumor that Arnold Schwarzenegger had been elected Governor while we were gone.

I figured everything would have shifted to digital copies, party drives and downloads, by now.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The first thing you must accept is that “understands basic economics” and “works in the publishing industry” are mutually exclusive events.

If you see someone arguing in favor of these groups’ bad (economically inefficient) business practices, it is usually because of some glaring logical fallacy on their part. If you point this out, the will recede into their shells and just spout trollisms for the rest of the thread.

In fact, I’m surprised TAM didn’t have the first post on this page like he does on every other page at TD.

Anonymous Coward says:

“General stop your soldiers from buying bootlegged DVDS!!!! They should be buying from us!!!”
“But that’s the problem you see. You’re not selling them anything. Therefore, they have no choice but to pirate”.
“There’s not enough profit in it for us to ship the movies”.
“That still doesn’t make sense. And what about what happened with anime in the 80’s?”
“What are you talking about? You know my historical recollection only goes back the last five years”.
“Back in the 80’s, there was a huge demand for japanese anime. However, you guys weren’t selling it. So they got bootlegged VHS tapes. Eventually you guys caught on, saw the demand, and started selling the anime yourselves. Do the same thing here. Our soldiers want movies, and are willing to buy them from a genuine source”.

“No, we wouldn’t make enough money. Better that your soldiers live in a desert, with no access to their homeland’s culture, so eventually they end up forgetting what it is they’re fighting for. So what if morale goes down, that’s for you to sort out”.

bob says:

The comments and comparisons

I’m not going to say F*#@ the MPAA.
Nor am I going to compare them to “This Thing Of Ours” though there are similarities.
What I can tell you is that when I was in the military the entertainment products we got were years old. So I can’t blame the troops for going out and finding more up to date stuff. Hell when I was on ship I received from home VHS tapes of Star Trek The Next Generation. Some times the mail guys would let people know when one of these care packages arrived.

So go to the MPAA web site and see who the members are and then send a letter to each of them. Let them know that they need to find more productive areas of infringement enforcement and to leave the troops alone.

zaven (profile) says:

My brother is currently deployed. I’ve sent over a copies of a bunch of my movies that he wanted to see but couldn’t. I ripped 4 or 5 and put them on a DVD and sent them. If you want to sue me then sue me MPAA. For the record, if he was not deployed he would have just come over to my place and watched them. No lost sale for them, and it gives my brother entertainment. If you don’t want us to do stuff like this, send over some movies for the troops MPAA.

Danny says:

What a missed opportunity

The MPAA could have really scored some big time good publicity on this. Imagine the faith and good will generated if the MPAA had seen this and actually, better sit down for this, shipped legit copies of American movies to the soldiers.

It would not have counteracted all the silly shit they’ve done but it would have helped a lot.

But of course they would fuck it up by trying to arrage some sort of contract that would result in the US government paying well over the unit price of each DVD.

Prince Manjee (profile) says:


How does the MPAA have the balls to apprach the US Military and ask for anything that would even further lower the quality of life of a US Soldier in a combat zone?? Even the enemy is afraid of doing that or they wouldnt resort to pussy ass suicide bombers and guerrilla warfare… Maybe jack valenti should get off his fat old white ass and learn what it means to be a patriot instead of a profiteer. These sick fucks make me wanna shoot some body and its not the iraqi’s. It’s these cushy west coast liberal jag off’s with there peace and love tree hugging hippy bullshit. “we’re artist so we need to be paid” FUCK THAT. These men and women are getting shot at for less than 50K a year and those cocksuckers are in california raking in millions and they have the balls to bitch about what soldiers in a combat zone do?? yet they have no problem filming a movie about it and making millions from the deaths of these soldiers (ie black hawk down). They kept those profits.. at no time did they send money to ease the suffering of the widows of Army Rangers lost in combat or to the poor people of mogadishu (sp?). I for one will happily pirate movies MOE FREQUENTLY after reading this article as my own little personal FUCK YOU to the MPAA amd any elected or appointed official that supports them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Really?

new face… same cock sucking skills… ur point? who runs it is aside from the point that was being made.. essentially who ever is in that position is a cock sucking bastard for even pushing this issue. But good for you getting that bit of wikipedia knowledge inserted in this techdirt. we are all impressed.

Marcel de Jong (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Really?

Oh wow, now I got an ad hominem attack from an industry person. I feel so honoured.
Instead of insulting us, why not try to converse with us?
You know, talk to your customers.

Piracy doesn’t need to be an issue, if the industry folks were just willing to think about it or talk to their customers about it.
Then they’d learn that:
1) locking everything up behind perpetual copyright won’t solve anything, but rather, it would annoy fans.
2) the cd are overpriced for many people, and that by lowering the prices they might actually compete with free.
3) piracy isn’t the industry’s biggest threat, it’s their own actions against piracy that’s causing their industry the most harm, as they are alienating a lot of people who could’ve been their biggest fans. Causing schoolkids to go bankrupt may make some (weird) sense in the extremely short term, but in the long term that doesn’t make any business sense. Those who are bankrupt have no money to spend on media, and their friends are much less likely to support an artist whose label caused their friends to go bankrupt.
4) suing fans actually causes the opposite from what they were trying to achieve.
5) that customers get annoyed when they are being accused of being thieves when they legally bought a dvd. (the totally bogus and very misleading “You wouldn’t steal a car” promo) which aren’t on the pirated copies.
6) if they were to focus on adding value for customers instead of trying to gain/keep control, they’d actually be able to keep more money.
7) DRM schemes don’t work, and only cost money. Money that they’d then be able to use for more useful projects such as promotion.
8) video clips act as a promotional tool, and are not a given cash cow.
9) people only have so much money to spend on media, and in a recession period, they tend to spend less on media and more on stuff like food. You know, the really useful stuff.

But listening isn’t the best quality of the record and motion picture industry.

Prince Manjee (profile) says:

Re: Re: Really?

I stand corrected sir. Jack Valenti is in fact dead and has been replaced. And instead of replying twice @ ANON You are correct that was more to the point I was making… more or less. I find this whole situation disgraceful. Those are men and women giving their lives (this has not been a zero casualty war)… I repeat GIVING THEIR LIVES for all of us (including those MPAA jerks). Instead of paying a lawyer from Jener and Bloc $2500 an hour to have an intern write a letter, why not send 1000 DVD’s to our soldiers in iWreck.. They don’t need to pirate what you gave away for free and you get great PR for supporting the service men and women. But no you dishonor them by calling them Pirate and Thieves… shame on you MPAA. Why don’t don’t you call them baby killer’s while you’re at it?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: (chris)

from apocalypse now:
We train young men to drop fire on people, but their commanders won’t allow them to write “fuck” on their airplanes because it’s obscene!

I am sorry to inform you sir, you have used this line from a copyrighted work.

We insist you take this down ASAP or pay us $2,000 for every person on the world wide

interwebs that could have read this or saw it in a series of tubes somewhere.

vastrightwing (profile) says:

Free enterprise wins again

So the RIAA/MPAA won’t do the right thing and they get upset when someone else does? This is what I hear: Soldiers want content, Iraq has content, MPAA has content. MPAA won’t fill desire of customers, but Iraq vendors will. Hummm… this sounds very familiar. MPAA/RIAA goes to the government asking them to enforce a strange request to prevent Iraq vendors from selling goods to soldiers. What planet does the RIAA/MPAA come from. On this planet, customers pay for goods and services. Both parties benefit. On the planet the MPAA/RIAA comes from, customers are forced to do what they want, only the RIAA/MPAA benefits.

I'm A Mac and Windows 8 was my idea says:


Whenever a company has a viable business model and IP to back it up, the only response is to force the company into submission by any means possible.

Look at Toyota as an example. It’s quite possible that they had a superior “green energy” platform and system in place. Then Government Motors (GM), Chrysler, and Ford needed more time, even though they got $24B, so they told DoT to go thru their problems with a fine tooth comb.

It’s interesting when we see alternative industries look to simplistic government enforcement solutions like that the MPAA and RIAA uses instead of licensing technology.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Appropriate Response

I say take it a step further. A nation wide major studio PIRATE on memorial day. They cant lock up the entire US population for piracy can they? In fact I say post Iron Man 2 for everyone to download… then burn it to DVD and mail it to a soldier in Iraq (or address it to the USO in c/o our service men and women stationed there). That would send those “fucksticks” in hollywood a message. I dare them to take me to court and have me say in front of a jury I did it for the soldiers… how much you wanna bet i WONT get a guilty verdict?

Ccomp5950 (profile) says:

My experience in Iraq

When I was there, the booths were setup with screen recordings of movies that were just in theaters. They were horrible quality mostly but it was nice to have a little piece of your home culture even if sometimes it was accompanied by Hindi / Arabic subtitles.

The small post exchange that was on the main base in Iraq (Camp Victory / Baghdad) would run out of movies within a day of shipment coming in, what would be left would be the “60’s classics!” bundles and “Friends Season 47” for $120.

The shops sold DVD’s that usually contained 2 movies on 1 DVD for a dollar, and then customs didn’t care as long as you didn’t bring more than 2 copies of the same DVD back into the country, which is who the MPAA will be hitting up next to enforce their ideals. Look for a story about customs being tasked (Hrm: ACTA perhaps?)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: My experience in Iraq

The shops sold DVD’s that usually contained 2 movies on 1 DVD for a dollar, and then customs didn’t care as long as you didn’t bring more than 2 copies of the same DVD back into the country, which is who the MPAA will be hitting up next to enforce their ideals.

Customs can kiss my ass too. There’s a lot of stuff we brought back hidden in an empty panel of a Fire Control computer (weapons system). “What, You want to look in there? Sorry, you don’t have a top-secret clearance.”

JustMe (profile) says:

When I was deployed in the late 80s

We had a large number of Hollywood movies to watch. Shane with Allan Ladd (1953), Westward Ho the Wagons! (1956) and Harvey (1950) to name just a few. You may notice that none of these were particularly current. We would have loved to watch something from the 60s. There was a fleet rumor that someone had once seen a movie from the 70s, but it was never proven.

Thanks Hollywood, for not helping our troops.

harbingerofdoom (profile) says:

well, its not quite as simple as they told MPAA to go pound sand which is kind of the direction this article is trying to lean to.

if you read the entire document what it actually says is more along the lines of no, we arent going to do anything MORE than we are already doing and no, we are not going to disallow troops to visit local stores simply because they may be selling bootlegs (for the previously specified reasons).
bootlegs are confiscated upon return from overseas and packages are already inspected for contraband (which bootlegs are) and said contraband is confiscated when found).

oh, and the memo points out that any disciplinary action taken against servicemen for possessing bootleg copies of something is up to their commanding officer.
-so basically no one is going to get busted for this type of stuff anyway.

The military is not saying they endorse bootlegs, what they are saying is that they already have something in place to deal with it so the MPAA can go suckit.

a slight but important difference.

Chucklebutte (profile) says:


there is very little of this going on. There is no need for soldiers to buy anything bootlegged, the armed forces over in Iraq and Crapistan already have everything they want. My friends are over there one in marines other in army, both have access to massive multi terabyte servers jam crammed with everything from all genres of music to all movies and games, all pirated, all placed there by other soldiers, all access it.

So why are they being accused of buying bootleg anything? My friend in the marines said it best “The US Armed Forces is the biggest pirate I have ever seen”.

Free Capitalist (profile) says:

Re: Actually

“The US Armed Forces is the biggest pirate I have ever seen”.

Actually, I think the situation in the armed forces is a great case to illustrate the idiocy of the “lost sale” theory.

Unless the military has changed the pay-scale a great deal since the 1980’s, my experience leads me to believe that the immense store, and use of “pirated” media your friend describes has caused zero lost sales.

Anonymous Hamster says:

Military Contract & Taxation

The military and the film industry have always had an amicable relationship. The awareness this generated is all part of their long term strategy. The MPAA is angling for a military contract and feels they deserve one given how morale is a large part of the equation. Just imagine how much money that would net the industry. It would also act as a stepping stone towards what they ultimately want, but know it is far too early to push for; a new entertainment tax similar to the levy in Canada, only much more broad, encompassing not only hardware (which they’ve recently been granted more control over) but things such as internet connectivity as well. Mark my words, it is only a matter of time.

jacob-a (profile) says:

To Clarify

I returned from Afghanistan in December, I averaged 3 or 4 bootlegs a week. I did it not to save money, but because AAFES (Army and Air Force Exchange Service) didn’t sell new release movies and we didn’t have access to a movie theater. Since there is zero availability of legitimate popular movies, where is the MPAA’s interest in combating downrange piracy at all?

jacob-a (profile) says:

fact checking

Techdirt, try to get your facts straight. The document states that the American Embassy in Iraq, not CENTCOM was contacted by the MPAA concerning the sale of pirated media on embassy grounds, according to the memo MNF-I, (Multi-National Forces-Iraq, a subordinate command of CENCTOM) the originator of the memo was never asked about the sale of pirated media, much less asked to stop it. The purpose of the memo (as stated in the first paragraph: Purpose) was to prepare the public affairs desk to answer possible questions from the MPAA, not to answer those already asked.

Joe says:

Navy Customs

Even though you can buy copious amounts of bootlegs, good luck getting them through US Navy customs. Maybe I just got a bad egg, but that lady that searched my crap wouldn’t budge at ALL when I wanted to keep my DVD’s. I guess that’s my fault for not mailing them home before I got to customs. All 7 Seasons of The Office ($35), down the drain :(. Oh well, lesson learned.

One thing about the Iraqi shop we had in Basrah, called Dell Boy’s, they had new shipments come in every week. They very regularly had movies that hadn’t even been released in theaters in the US. Man I miss those guys…

Ben says:

I am sorry that my buying pirated movies gets on the nerves of the MPAA. However, I need something to do in my off time. I have some and as much fun as it is to sit here and stare at the ceiling sometimes I just wanna relax with my buddies and watch a movie that people in the states are raving about. At least this way I can have a taste of home.

The Creed says:

HR buying pirated movies from me at work

Hello I have to tell you, I recently started going back to school for a degree in human resources and found out that the company that I work for was raided by the FBI a couple of years before I started out there. I tried something that was totally illegal and did so to see what would happen and that was to start selling pirated dvd movies for 3 bucks at work. I found out that many people were all for this including my HUMAN RESOURCES DEPARTMENT STAFF. I soon found out how honest the Human Resources department really was selling movies to the hr employees simply because they liked to watch movies at home. A new director came into the picture about a year later. He found out through an employee that did not like me that I was doing this and I was called in to the HR Office. I never denied that I was doing this and told him that it would stop and it did. The other Human Resources employees still insisted and bought movies from me. I was found out again but this time I was fired because of it and it really did not matter to me because it was a shit job anyway. I explained to the HR Director that his hr staff was also buying them from me. What do you think will happen to these employees. I am curious as to what responses I will get from this… I want everyone to know that even the human resources department employees can break the law but will they also get the same discipline as I did.

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