In recent years millions of people have seen the Piracy It’s a Crime anti-piracy video.
According to popular belief and reputable news sources, the music used in the “You Wouldn’t Steal a Car” clip was itself pirated.
Oh the irony…
While the case in question dates back to the beginning of the decade, the alleged “theft” is still cited regularly. People regularly mention it on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and also while commenting on various memes, as recently as a few days ago.
Amusing, for sure, but there’s one problem. It’s not true.
The sources for this remarkable story refer to the case of Dutch musician Melchior Rietveldt. In 2006 he was asked to compose a piece of music to be used in an anti-piracy advert. This was supposed to be used exclusively at a local film festival.
However, it turned out that the anti-piracy ad was recycled for various other purposes without the composer’s permission. The clip had been used on dozens of DVDs both in the Netherlands and overseas. This means that Rietveldt’s music was used without his permission, or pirated, as some would say.
The above is true, as we reported in the past. And the composer was eventually compensated for missed royalties. However, the whole case has nothing to do with the Piracy It’s a Crime clip. It’s about an entirely different ad.
The actual Rietveldt commercial is unknown to the wider public, and there are no online copies that we know of. What we do know is that the “Piracy. It’s a Crime” clip was produced in 2004, not 2006, and also not for a Dutch film festival.
The Piracy It’s a Crime ad was part of a joint initiative by the Motion Picture Association (MPA) and the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS). The original announcement is still available online.
A source close to the Dutch film industry confirmed that the Rietveldt case has nothing to do with the frequently mentioned clip, which means that it’s all a massive misunderstanding. One that is now deeply ingrained in Internet history, it seems.
So where does this fable originate from?
When covering the story, several news outlets used an image from the Piracy It’s a Crime video, since that’s the classic example of an anti-piracy ad. Somewhere along the line, however, other reporters started to identify that clip as Rietveldt’s work, without properly checking. Fast forward a few years and many now assume it’s an established fact.
Pirated or not, the Piracy it’s a Crime campaign remains a popular source for memes. Whether this is what the MPA and IPOS intended is doubtful, but at least they got the message out.