Opening Statements

DP Does a Double-Take

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M.E. Hart doesn’t mind if he’s become something of a joke on the Internet. It just means that his message is getting out.

Hart, a lawyer, does corporate training for a Washing­ton, D.C.-based strategic management company. But he may be better known for his work as DP, the rapper from cyberspace who bursts through computer monitors to warn of the dangers of copyright infringement.

Hart first starred as DP—Digital Protector— in the Software & Infor­mation Industry Association’s 1992 education­al video, Don’t Copy That Floppy. He re­prised the role this year for the follow-up video, Don’t Copy That 2.

“The goal was to do something that gets people talking about … the consequences of their choices,” says Hart, also a professional actor who has worked on stage and screen since the ’80s.

The 1992 video was sent to teachers nationwide as part of an educational campaign, but the DP character remained under the radar until 2005 when the video was, well, copied, and put on YouTube. Hart became an Internet phenom.

“What was fascinating to me were the comments I got about the video,” he says. “I even got a call from someone asking me if I knew I was on Wikipedia.”

None of that stopped Hart when the Software & Infor­mation Industry Association asked him to do Don’t Copy That 2. Hart saw it as a challenge to reach kids in the digital age. “We had to change the message up—to make it, dare I say, more threatening,” says the SIIA’s Keith Kupfer­schmid.

The new video flashes back to the original before ending with a warning from 24-year-old Jeremiah Mondello, who is serving time in a federal prison for selling pirated software.

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