The studios have done a lot of comically inept things to combat movie piracy, but the funniest thing I’ve seen yet happened last week at the press screening for “Ratatouille.”
There was a sign-in sheet, which is common enough. You had to write down your name and what outlet you work for — makes sense. And then they wanted one additional piece of information: your driver’s license number.
This was so absurd that I was momentarily baffled, but I soon compiled a mental list of all the reasons that it was stupid to ask for the critics’ driver’s license numbers.
– Identity theft is a concern these days. What guarantee do we have that our driver’s license numbers will be kept private?
– There were 10 people at the screening. If you can’t keep an eye on 10 stationary people for two hours to make sure they don’t have video cameras, then there’s something wrong with you.
– If I did sneak a video camera into the theater and bootleg the movie, how would having my driver’s license number help you track me down? You know where to find me — you invited me to the screening, remember? You have my address and phone number. You know who I work for. What, you think I’m going to go on the lam after being exposed as a bootlegger, fleeing from town to town and living under assumed names?
A few people expressed privacy concerns. I didn’t worry about that because I had already leapt forward to the obvious solution, which was to just write down a random series of numbers. No one was actually checking our IDs to make sure we did it right. One of my colleagues wrote “1” down as his license number. “I was the first person ever to get an Oregon driver’s license!” he told me.
Oh, and “Ratatouille” is great, by the way. I got an excellent copy of it with my cell phone.