User Operation Prohibit Flag
That operation is not permitted at this time.
A programming flag used to disable one or more functions of a media player, such as Stop, Menu, and Chapter Skip. On a compliant player, it forces the viewer to wait as certain material plays before the main menu becomes available. Originally, this was used to require the viewer to see the copyright warning, but it has since been regularly abused to make advertising and promotional material unskippable. This is one of those things that sounds great to home video producers but the logic of the practice falls down when you realize that the people who will be affected by this stuff obviously own a legit DVD, and the people who pirate the video won't get (or will be able to skip) the warning or ads. In other words, good behavior is being punished with annoying ads, and bad behavior is being rewarded by the lack of them.
The formation of the User Operation Prohibit Flag was arguably set in motion during the VHS generation, where viewers could skip the trailers running before the feature presentation by fast-forwarding through them. The leap to DVD and Blu-Ray, which offer scripted seamless branching (as well as the rise in digital distribution and piracy) forced production companies to institute DRM
that holds the viewer's attention while it shows promos for their latest works. That is, latest at the time of the disc's pressing. This can range from a single trailer to several minutes
worth of commercials and advertisements for unrelated media. If the disc is old enough, the "new" media in question may even already be Out Of Print
, even on the company's "official" shop, making the whole "trailer" sequence completely pointless.
As one might imagine, this playback behavior fills many people with a vast, seething hatred. People who own DVD editing software like HandBrake may even be tempted to copy it purely to get a version without all that stuff. If you're lucky, your player might have a way around this, perhaps by pressing a certain set of remote control buttons. On some players, just hitting "menu" works — sometimes. Some players will also hiccup if you try speeding up the playback past the tolerance point; dumping you at the menu. Of course, just as many will hiccup and go back to the beginning.
Unsurprisingly, the User Operation Prohibit Flag is slowly creeping its way into online distribution services as well. In 2006, Amazon's Unbox service was released
with a service agreement that barred the customer from turning off their software, auto-updates without their consent and puts commercials and trailers on the user's computer without their permission.
We could tell you
about a certain French software developer and their popular media player with a three-letter acronym name, and traffic cone logo, that is capable of bypassing nearly all these examples, but the legal department strongly advised us not to
, so we won't. If you might be interested in such software, we'll just say that Google v
an help you locate it.
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Anime & Manga
- Some anime DVDs from Funimation have previews that are only skippable using the "Title Menu"/"Top Menu" button... a button which, of course, not all DVD player remotes have.
- Madman Entertainment in Australia make a point of not doing this. They are required by law to include an anti-piracy warning but it's relegated to a sub-menu with the previews and is entirely skippable.
- Many of the US releases of Studio Ghibli films have an unskippable intro with John Lasseter waxing poetic about the film you're just about to watch.
- One of the Easter eggs on The Ring DVD is to play the cursed video straight through, without being able to pause or stop it.
- And then enterprising tropers can surreptitiously use their cell to call the house phone and scare the bejeepers out of their sister...
- Even better, DreamWorks already thought of that. After the video plays, it jumps to a special menu that includes the sound effect of a phone ringing.
- Although some MediaBlasters/AnimeWorks DVDs use the flag to prevent you from directly accessing the main menu during the vanity plates, they don't lock out the fast-forward/rewind controls, meaning you can just set the FF to 4x or 8x and get through it in a few seconds.
- ... And you can practically circumvent them altogether if the control has a "next chapter" button (>>|) The punchline? It works on Disney DVDs, which, aside from containing the obligatory "unskippable" warnings, are notorious for having half a dozen ads before even getting to the menu.
- Unfortunately, a number of DVDs disable chapter skipping and fast forwarding these too.
- A "Rental Edition" DVD of The Scorpion King released in Australia had a seven minute trailer for the video game that the viewer had to sit through EVERY TIME THEY RETURNED TO THE MAIN MENU. Also, when first loading, there is a ten-minute advertisement for several other movies, which then leads into the video game ad mentioned above.
- Shrek 2: There's a seven minute preview for Madagascar that you can't skip. You can just put it in the DVD player, go to the bathroom, make the popcorn, and then catch the last fifteen seconds of Ben Stiller talking about how great the film was. This is absent on at least some versions of the Region 2 DVD.
- Averted on some Warner Bros. DVDs, where the FBI Warning and Warner Home Video logo are joined into one video file and can be fast forwarded through.
- And on others, the FBI Warning, Warner Home Video logo, and fourteen minutes of advertisements are all locked together, again without a way to skip them beyond a fast forward.
- At the end of some DVDs from Universal Studios Home Entertainment, the Deluxe Digital Studios logo is unskippable.
- The Blu Ray of The Omega Man has a 7 minute montage of FBI warning screens in over 40 different languages that is unskippable unless you press the "Root Menu" button. Watch it here.
- The Blu-ray was released by Warner Home Video, also responsible for the FBI warning montage from Scooby-Doo: Camp Scare below.
- Some THX-certified DVDs don't let you skip the THX logo on them. And, since this is the company whose "jingle" is the Deep Note we're talking about here, this is a real shame for those who HATE loud noises......
- The Blu-Ray version of 12 Years a Slave comes with a whopping 15 minutes of unskippable previews. Every navigation feature is disabled during them - even fast forward.
Live Action TV
- Most DVDs released in Australia, and many in the UK, have a unskippable, un-fast-forward-able "Video Piracy Is Stealing" ad.
- The Red Dwarf Series VI DVD has an unskippable animated intro on its first disc, but that's because you can access Easter Eggs at the point where the POV briefly stops moving inside the airlock.
- Some editions of Dead Like Me Season 1 launches into an unskippable parade of copyright notices in every language known to man, lasting almost five minutes, at the end of every episode. Then it reboots the DVD so that you have to watch the opening vanity plates (also unskippable) again before you can get back to the menu.
- On any DVD released by Showtime (e.g. Penn & Teller: Bullshit!), the Showtime Entertainment logo is unskippable.
- Showtime would later turn this Up to Eleven by making the pre-menu ads unskippable as well. This resulted in people who bought or rented Season 6 of Dexter having the end of the season spoiled by said unskippable ad.
- The first few DVD releases of Stargate SG-1 had a loophole. As soon as the MGM teaser popped up you could use the title button method as mentioned above and skip directly to an episode but only DURING the teaser. Once it ended, everything was blocked. They soon realized this and blocked this for the rest of the DVDs.
- The DVDs for the classic Doctor Who series all have an unskippable trailer for the 2005 and beyond series. A case of preaching to the choir. And that is only after the annoying ad for "other BBC productions" hosted by a Claymation Queen Elizabeth.
- Also subverted with one UK Doctor Who Series 4 box. After the first few seconds of material the DVD gives you the option between normal or vision-impared menu. Taking the normal one gives you a few additional unskippable logos, the vision-impared version jumps right to the menu, understandably.
- A children's learning DVD called Potty Power has an unskippable preview for a DVD teaching children about the solar system. Some children were scared by it and couldn't even watch the actual video.
- Red vs. Blue parodies these types of warnings on some of their DVDs.
- Every WWE DVD release has an unskippable warning about the dangers of imitating the bumps and moves the wrestlers try, warning about how bodies have been broken and "careers ended in an instant."
- Some earlier releases also had unskippable, and un-fastforward-able ads - not so bad, except when they were for the pseudo-porn Divas releases. Not what you want on-screen when friends or family enter the room.
- There was an Undertaker DVD with ten minutes of unskippable, un-fast-forwardable ads.
Stand Up Comedy
- Parodied in Bill Bailey's Guide to the Orchestra, where he specifically refers to the notorious unskippable and un-fastforwardable 1997 Universal Pictures logo sequence. He has the orchestra play a sped-up syncopated version of the sequence (as though fast-forwarded on a DVD player) 'just so the audience can get the satisfaction of hearing it once'.
- A lot of games sold today have unskippable videos that play at the start, telling you who published, made the art, sound, video files, and who bought lunch every time you start the game. Crysis Wars had an infuriating 2 minute long gameplay video that would be unskippable the first time you start up the game after installing - except the video sometimes breaks and will play anyway. Rather than being forced to watch these obnoxious videos, PC users can usually simply delete the video files from their hard drive, causing the game to cut directly to the main menu.
- The HOME buttons on the Wii and 3DS are sometimes disabled to keep the user from quitting to the Home Menu when the system's doing something important.
- Speaking of the Wii, some games that use the Wii MotionPlus attachment make you watch a three minute long and annoyingly unskippable instructional video on how to properly set up the attachment before the game even starts. It even goes as far as instructing the user in painful detail how to setup a wrist strap and even how to remove the attachment. You can watch it here
- The Sega CD port of the original Mortal Kombat started by running a two-minute ad for the Mortal Kombat game itself. There was no way to skip it. This unskippable ad, along with the load times slowing down the game, led to much criticism for said port.
- The fourth Space Ghost Coast to Coast DVD contains the blue-screen footage of the kittens used in the "Chinatown" episode. It can't be skipped or stopped; the only way to do so is to eject the disc (depending on the player). Though why you'd want to is a mystery.
- Many of the Walt Disney Treasures collections include unskippable disclaimers before each and every cartoon stating that the following short might contain objectionable material, and consisting of Leonard Maltin explaining we know better now.
- The aforementioned multilanguage FBI warning from the season 1 release of Dead Like Me isn't just limited to that DVD. It's also annoyingly featured at the end of the DVD release of Scooby-Doo: Camp Scare. So you get the Last Note Nightmare Stinger where ghost guy slowly gobbles up the camera...and then the Warner Bros. Animation logo... and then about 17 FBI warnings in every language ever. Luckily it doesn't reboot the DVD. It just cuts to the special features menu when it's at the final screen.
- So are almost all of Warner Home Video's Region 2 DVDs that feature warnings for about 35 countries after the movie (even the ones whose languages that aren't featured on the disc). Luckily every warning screen they are skippable with the "next chapter" button, except for the last one in the set.
- The NCircle DVD of Super Mario Bros.: Koopa Khronicles features a trailer for Dino Squad you can't skip. To make this even worse, the trailer is mostly composed of the freaking theme song.
- This trope also applies to some Caillou DVDs. Many parents of impatient children were not pleased.