Science and Tech

‘Don’t copy that floppy’: this was the most ridiculous anti-illegal copy video of all time

This was the wonderful world of protection systems "handcrafted" for video games of yesteryear

The history of anti-copy systems has always been a curious world-mirror of certain deficiencies, phobias and aspirations of the entertainment industry. Like a spectral beast that projects its fears precisely to those who feed it, reviewing the evolution of methods so that consumers do not copy, always a couple of steps behind the technology that allowed them to make copies, is certainly illuminating and significant.

And also a testimony, in some cases, of the ingenuity of those who created the systems (like those die-cast wheels with pirate masks from ‘Monkey Island’), and in others, of the clumsiness with which the big entertainment companies confused the terms, identifying private copies with illegal copies, or hindering the conventional operation of so many reproduction systems that did not understand each other with anticopy systems. Or, directly, making a fool of yourself with awareness campaigns to feed them separately.

One of the most popular happened in Spain, that famous “Now the law acts” with the aesthetics of a Calparsolo film and phrases such as “If you don’t like being robbed, are you going to be an accomplice of the blanket?” or “Every time a crime is committed, a mark is left. On the internet, too”, and that tried to scare those who bought unauthorized copies of content, or downloaded it from the internet. His tremendous and threatening tone was the subject of parodies, such as the legendary one that could be seen in ‘The IT Crowd’ and that he laughed at the speech of equating an armed robbery with downloading a movie.

But none was as ridiculous and, at the same time, endearing as the ‘Don’t Copy That Floppy’ campaign, carried out by the Software Publishers Association in 1992. In it, the rapper known (only this time) as MC Double Def DP sang a tremendous song about the risks and moral problems of making unauthorized copies of games and computer programs. The naiveness of the subject made it a viral phenomenon thanks to the internet, with a video that exceeds two million views on YouTube.

No to the floppy copy

At the start of the video, two teenagers play on the high school computer. When they decide to copy it to continue at home, The Protector of the Disk appears, who is not a villain from ‘Ghostbusters’, but a rapper who tells them how unauthorized copying leads to millions in losses for the video game industry. Which could put her very existence at risk, which is illustrated by images from then-popular PC games like ‘The Oregon Trail,’ ‘Tetris,’ and ‘Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?’

To reinforce his philippic, MC Double Def DP intersperses statements from people linked to video games, both from the creators (of the game ‘Neverwinter Nights’) and from the legal side, with lawyers and executives talking about the money they see disappearing right under their noses . Finally, the kids decide not to copy the floppy and even invest some money in buying a new game, which may even include an instruction manual (hey, it was the nineties).

The result is unintentionally comical and naïve, and it’s no wonder that after a few years, when it was completely out of fashion, it became a meme. To the twists typical of the commercial rap of the time (“for you and the posse”, “pump ip the images”!) is added a certainly apocalyptic tone that predicts the end not only of video games, but directly of everything that supports it (computer science, which was said then: “The screen starts to tweak, and then it will fade / Programs fall through a black hole in space / The computer world becomes bleak and stark / Loses its life and the screen goes dark”).

VCR Virus: the VHS-era anti-copy system that looked like something out of a B-series horror movie

Added to this is that tic so typical of anti-piracy videos of criminalizing rather than educating: “Buy one, for every computer you use / Anything else is like going to the store / Taking the disk, and walking out the door / It’s called thiefin ‘, stealin’, taking what’s not yours / Is that really where you want your life to go? That is to say, that it begins like this and ends in organized crime, a manual “From the porrón to the joint”.

Don’t Copy 2: The Sequel

In 2009, the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) released an official sequel to the video, with the return of ME Hart as MC Double Def DP. Interestingly, the video is well aware of the ridicule they had made with the first installment. and tries to ingratiate himself with the much more cynical viewers of 2009 by laughing at it. But beware, it seems to say, in times of the Internet the message remains the same.

Or even goes further: rap is no longer that jovial and cool thing of the eighties, but the tone of the rhymes and the content becomes more aggressive and the threats are much more powerful. The Protector of the Disc doesn’t talk about programmers anymore, but about how you’re going to end up being a laughingstock in jail for ending up in prison for some bullshit like copying discs. And possibly, the sentence includes listening to songs on a loop to scare kids about how bad it is to copy copyrighted content.

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