What measures about 6 by 9 inches, looks like a diploma, and is totally useless? It’s a Certificate of Authenticity (a.k.a. Certificate of Ownership), a document that’s becoming de rigueur for deluxe video editions already stuffed with making-of documentaries, booklets, and other paraphernalia.
Invented by MGM/UA for its 1989 anniversary edition of The Wizard of Oz, the certificate has no actual purpose except as a marketing ploy to bless video collecting with the tony aura of Original Art, and to give the consumer another reason to shell out as much as $100 for tapes that by themselves go for around $20. The latest wrinkle? King Kong fans who want their certificates have to mail in a bounce-back card — which Turner Home Entertainment could then conceivably use to track consumption habits or to amass mailing lists.
What can you do with your certificate? Not much. You can frame it and hang it up to impress your friends, or make an origami sculpture. Or you can save it in the long-shot hope that over time it will increase in value — at the very least, it’ll be worth the paper it’s printed on.