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An amazing, insanely comprehensive collection of home video anti-piracy PSAs

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FBI Warning Screens Wiki

I'm used to the idea that someone on the internet has compiled an obsessive record of every single element of modern life. Every appearance of Knuckles the Echidna in a Sonic the Hedgehog property? Fine. The distinguishing features of 22 separate variations of a single IBM keyboard model? An invaluable resource. This does not come close to explaining the fact that in the depths of Wikia, there is a massive, almost frighteningly comprehensive collection of every single anti-piracy warning ever displayed alongside a motion picture.

The name of the FBI Warning Screens Wiki (tagline: "Experience FBI Warning Screens old & new") actually manages to significantly under-deliver. It's a sometimes baffling visual history of the relationship between filmmakers, studios, and audiences, stretching back to the 1970s and across the globe. This includes, yes, a lot of FBI warning screens from major studios — check out the 15 screens from 20th Century Fox, including a listing for a 1983 "LaserDisc variant." Then there are the eye-searing prohibitions against showing UK home videos on "clubs, coaches, hospitals, hotels, oil rigs, prisons, and schools."

FBI Warning Screen Wiki

And the threat of being fined 100,000 Philippine pesos ($2,000 at current exchange rates) for pirating a movie from Star Records.

FBI Warning Screen Wiki

And what is undoubtedly the FBI Warning Screen Wiki's magnum opus: a ridiculously comprehensive global history of anti-piracy warnings that includes one of the best public service announcements I have ever seen.

Where is this even coming from? Who went through and checked to see which movies (VHS, Betamax, and LaserDisc copies of The Langoliers, Highlander, and Live Nude Girls, apparently) bore the 1982-1997 NTA Home Entertainment/Republic Pictures Home Video warning screen? Who assigned the "scare factor" score to an anti-piracy PSA remix of Casablanca?

Many of the warnings seem to be captured from YouTube videos of movie openings, which raises its own set of questions. Who is putting together lists of source videos in the wiki's comment sections? Who uploaded the Brazilian version of the advertising reel at the beginning of the VHS release of Aladdin? How has it been watched 5,700 times?

If I ever have to justify the internet, this is what I'll point to. No matter how precarious relying on services like Wikia and YouTube for preservation is, we live with a network of such vast scope and power that someone can wake up one morning and decide to turn the bland, cheesy, and fear-mongering first seconds of movies into a multimedia thesis on globalization, creativity, and law. The fact that putting it together probably took a significant amount of copyright infringement just raises the whole thing to the level of meta-art.