‘Boy A’ piracy protection

Several weeks ago, movie mogul Harvey Weinstein wrote an impassioned article at Portfolio.com pleading with entertainment reporters and film critics to give one of his company’s films, “Boy A,” more coverage. The movie had already won awards in England and got rave reviews when it played at the Toronto Film Festival in 2007, but now, upon its late-July art house release, it was being ignored, the way most independent films are ignored during the Summer Blockbuster Season.

Another film critic, Dan Lybarger, and I both posted comments saying, basically, “We’d love to review it. But how are we gonna see it?” To our great delight, someone from Weinstein’s office then e-mailed us both and arranged to send us DVD screeners. Weinstein is a polarizing figure in the movie business, and that blog entry he wrote garnered quite a few derogatory comments from other readers. But he and his staff apparently know how to put up or shut up, because he took Dan and me up on our offer to review “Boy A.”

It’s a terrific movie, and I’m working on my review for Film.com. But first I have an anecdote to share. Because of piracy concerns, they have to be very careful about sending out DVD copies of current theatrical releases. My copy was dubbed specifically for me, with my name printed on the disc’s label, with what I assume was a unique bar code under it. (I felt very special.) When I played the DVD, I saw this message on the first screen:

I’ve seen this kind of warning before, and I’ve always wondered how they would know an illegal copy had originated from MY copy. What kind of “invisible watermark” are they talking about? Something encrypted into the digital code of the disc somehow? I don’t know enough about that kind of technology. I always just take their word for it. I’m not inclined to make copies of screeners anyway.

In this case, the mystery of the “invisible watermark” was soon solved as the movie began playing and I saw this:

Yes, in addition to the “Property of The Weinstein Company” bug at the bottom, it also says “Eric Snider” at the top. Any illegal copies I made would literally have my name all over them. I would guess that’s a pretty effective deterrent.

(Note: I hope that taking a screen grab for the purpose of a blog post does not count as “copying.”)