Region Coding an exercise in Stupidity
Recently my trusty not so rusty DVD player died. It just refuses to play my DVDs anymore. So I’m back in the market for a DVD player and my one and only requirement is that is has to be able to play DVDs I have purchased from all over the world.
Here is an exercise in stupidity, all the DVD players are not sold multi-region playable. However manufacturers recognizes that the consumer demands it. So as a work around there is a folder behind the counter with instructions on how to “unlock” the DVD players. But the problem is that firstly it might not work, and secondly you have to remember to get the instructions on how to “unlock” it.
I unfortunately fell into the second group. Not only that, after going back to the shop, they informed me that the DVD player I purchased was not on the list of “unlockable” players as well as all the replacements in my budget were not on the list as well. I promptly got a refund and went to buy one that was region “unlocked”. Manufacturers also have no choice, provide this, or the consumer goes some where else.
So my point is if this is something people want why not make it a standard on all DVD players? Why such “cloak and dagger” nonsense to get around the system?
Accordingly to Wikipedia Region Coding of DVDs are for:
DVD-Video discs may be encoded with a region code intended to restrict the area of the world in which they can be played. Discs can be produced without region coding; they are sometimes referred to as region 0 discs.
The commercial DVD player specification requires that a player to be sold in a given place must not play discs encoded for a different region (region 0 discs are not restricted). The purpose of this system is to allow motion picture studios to control the various aspects of a release (including content, date and, in particular, price) according to the region. In practice many DVD players are or can be modified to be region-free, allowing playback of all discs.
I think the motion picture studios need to sit up, listen and think. Such antiquated measures of control are not only logistical nightmares for their own distribution channels but it does not reflect the new and changing ways consumers buy things. With the Internet and safer more efficient air travel, people are now well “traveled” citizens of the world. As a result consumers purchase goods from many countries either personally or on-line. I think it is about time they learn that is that the consumer that rules NOT the manufacturer or producer.
I also liken this to shops complaining that people buy their similar products online and at a cheaper price (including shipping). My answer to this is that this is a great opportunity for re-invention. But don’t hold your breath, at the rate movie studios are going I’m not surprised that they are one of the last people to embraced file sharing and digital distribution of their movies and media.