Don't even THINK about stealing this movie

I went to the cinema for the first time in ages yesterday. I probably go the cinema once every couple of months, which is just long enough to forget the lectures you have to sit through these days before you're allowed to watch the film. There were no less than four reminders that it's illegal to use recording equipment to pirate the movie. And thank god there were four: I was dead set on pirating the film all through the first three but the fourth one, with Bradley Grey's starving daughter weeping into her gruel, persuaded me to put away my video camera.

In amongst those I also got a stern talking-to from the Government about the dangers of drinking and driving. It's just as well they took the trouble - more than two-thirds of the adverts that followed were for alcoholic drinks.

Then we got to the highlight: an advert explaining why it's better to watch a film at the cinema than at home on a pirated DVD. Now remember, I'm watching this advert at the cinema so it's fair to assume that I probably agree with them. It's all those people who aren't at the cinema they need to be talking to.

But of course they're doing that too. On Saturday night I watched a film on DVD and got warned not to download movies first. I couldn't skip the ad and couldn't fastforward it. Apparently, the price I paid to watch the disc was not enough to buy the right to avoid being harangued.

"You wouldn't steal a car," the advert yelled at me. Wouldn't I? How do you know?

The movie industry (and the music industry come to that but they deserve a post of their own so I'll do that another time) seems to be under the impression that we are all basically dishonest. We're waiting for the chance to rip them off and the only way to avoid it is to bombard us with warnings to keep us on the straight-and-narrow.

Why do they suppose people watch pirated DVDs and download movies? It certainly isn't for the quality. It's about convenience. It's about avoiding the ridiculous wait Britons have to endure before a movie opens here. Or it's about saving the £50 it costs to take a family to the cinema.

Now, none of those things make it ok to pirate movies. I agree with the film industry that piracy is wrong. But maybe, instead of lecturing the law-abiding, the film industry could think about new business models which would render piracy obsolete.

How about synchronising release dates worldwide so UK viewers don't have a six-month wait to see movies? Or what about going even further and releasing movies on DVD on the same day they come out at the cinema? After all, if watching a film at the cinema is as good as you say, then what do you have to worry about?

They won't of course. If you tried something radical and it didn't work, you'd lose your job. Nobody ever got fired for blaming piracy.