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 Talk to the hand, the face isn't interested.

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. The illogic of this practice is that the people who will see this stuff obviously own the DVD, and the people who pirate the video via the internet won't get the warning or ads.

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 (and 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 - this can range from a single trailer to several minutes worth of commercials and advertisements for unrelated media.

This DRM fills many people with a vast, seething hatred. People who own DVD editing software like Hand Brake may even be tempted to copy it purely to get a version without all that stuff. This can be universally bypassed by pressing Stop twice, and then play, to skip directly to the core feature of the DVD (until they close that loophole too). On some players, 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.

Examples of User Operation Prohibit Flag include:


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.
    • Mind you, testing this on a disk they released this month (June 2010) reveals that if they've noticed, they don't care enough to close it.
  • 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.


Film

  • 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.
  • Up launched directly (ish) into the movie, but at no point was there an accessible menu.
  • Shrek 2: There's a seven minute preview for Madagascar that you can't skip. You can just put it in and go to the bathroom, make the popcorn, rotate the car's tires, paint the house, and then catch the last fifteen seconds of Ben Stiller yammering 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.


Live Action TV

  You wouldn't steal a handbag. You wouldn't steal a car. You wouldn't steal a baby. You wouldn't shoot a policeman, and then steal his helmet. You wouldn't go to the toilet in it, and then send it to the policeman's grieving widow. And then steal it again.

  • 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 and Teller Bullshit), the Showtime Entertainment logo is unskippable.
  • 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.
  • 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.


Machinima

  • Red vs. Blue parodies these types of warnings on some of their DVDs.


Professional Wrestling

  • 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 Universal 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'.


Web Original


Western Animation

  • 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).
  • 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.
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