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“Piracy, It’s a Crime” is an anti-piracy campaign launched by the Motion Picture Association, which consisted of public service announcement videos played during the opening sequences of DVD movies. The PSA, which compares digital piracy to theft, has been widely mocked for being absurd, inspiring the creation of parody videos and image macros.
On July 27th, 2004, the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore announced that it would be airing a new anti-piracy trailer in all screened cinemas in a joint initiative with the Motion Picture Association (MPA), which displays several different types of theft followed by a young girl downloading a pirated film. The PSA was subsequently included as an unskippable segment in the opening sequences of many DVDs. It was uploaded to YouTube by user avril134 on May 4th, 2006 (shown below).
You wouldn’t steal a car
You wouldn’t steal a handbag
You wouldn’t steal a television
You wouldn’t steal a movie
Downloading pirated films is stealing,
stealing is against the law,
PIRACY. IT’S A CRIME
On April 4th, 2006, the Wordpress blog “It Just Is” published a post titled “MPAA Uses Unfair Rhetoric in their Ad Campaigns,” which criticized the PSA for arguing that stealing a car is analogous to pirating a film. On February 3rd, 2007, YouTuber roboslobproductions uploaded a parody of the PSA titled “Piracy Parody Ad,” which mocked the original ad for being “annoying” (shown below, left). On August 21st, 2008, YouTuber BoredAtHomeProductions uploaded a parody titled “Piracy – It Be a Crime,” in which a teenager dressed as a pirate is shown performing various acts of theft (shown below, right).
On April 13th, 2009, Redditor augreeko posted a photoshopped image of a slide from the “Piracy. It’s a Crime” PSA to the /r/funny subreddit, which was edited to read “You wouldn’t download a car” surrounded by a demotivational poster border with the caption “Fuck You / I would if I could” (shown below). Prior to being archived, the post received over 1,000 up votes and 350 comments.
On September 18th, 2010, YouTuber VideosStorm uploaded a parody of the video titled “Parody, It’s a Crime (Piracy It’s a Crime Spoof),” in which several people are shown performing various mundane and absurd acts (shown below, left). On September 18th, 2011, Yahoo Answers member Ryann Newman posted the question “How do I download a car?” to which member AKchem responded “You forget sir, the RIAA has no grasp of reality.”
On November 8th, 2012, Redditor leica_boss submitted a post titled “You wouldn’t download a car” to the /r/gaming subreddit, featuring a screenshot from a racing game menu with an option to “download car” (shown below). Within one month, the post received over 9,500 up votes and 280 comments. The TV Tropes lists “you wouldn’t download a car” as an example of the “Digital Piracy is Evil” trope.
Many additional parody images were created inspired by the “download a car” demotivational, with captions substituting other objects that could not be downloaded.
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