“VCR Virus” Fake VHS Copy-Protection Warning Label.


This photo crossed my social media feed the other day, and I immediately wanted to find more information about it. Unfortunately I didn’t find much, but hopefully posting about it will encourage more information to surface. It helped with finding out more about a certain hideous stuffed animal.

For starters, even though mostly cropped out, some Googling revealed the VHS video in the photo is likely “Nobody’s Perfect: How To Cope With Relapse” a video about dieting struggles created by National Health Video in 1991. Unfortunately, the website doesn’t offer scans of their VHS tapes, but looking on eBay I found a similar label on this tape about alcohol recovery.


Of course, “VCR Viruses” aren’t actually a thing, and a tape can’t make your VCR catch on fire. A strange sort of bluff coming from an educational company, considering it relies of misleading the customer on how their own equipment works. It’s similar to the KTC Warning Screen, which also makes use the threat of an imaginary, vaguely threatening copy-protection technology.


In the real world, if a company knowingly created tapes that damaged playback equipment, lawsuits would go through the roof. It would also likely go against FCC regulations. Real VHS copy protection, like Macrovision, relied on signal interference that the playback device wouldn’t even detect, distorting the signal received by the recording device.

In any case, this is an interesting piece of copy-protection history. Don’t Copy That Floppy!