I admit to finding it amusing that Barack Obama’s gift to Gordon Brown of 25 classic American movies ended up illustrating one of my hot buttons — Mr. Brown couldn’t watch the Region 1-encoded DVDs on his Region 2 player. Here’s TechDirt’s take on the story (link from Volker Weber).
I have been in many discussions with wet-behind-the-ears idiots in consumer electronics stores who parrot the Hollywood line that region-encoding is just fine and reasonable. Asking them why sending DVDs from the US to Europe is bad and should be stopped meets with a “huh?” answer. Asking them why my toddler should not be able to watch DVDs sent to us from friends in Australia elicits more of the same.
Eventually we bought a DVD player that plays from other regions as well, making it possible for me to buy German-language DVDs suitable for my children (not easy to find in Region 1 encoding). To my mind, the fact that the regions were set up to put Mexico in with Australia and New Zealand shows how nonsensical the whole concept is. I really don’t understand why so many DVD manufacturers automatically region-encoded the DVDs rather than making them region-free, and I’m pleased to see that even though Blu-Ray repeats the whole region idiocy, many manufacturers are in fact making their Blu-Ray discs region-free.
I assume at least part of that response is due to the wide availability of DVD players that don’t worry about regions, and the availability of instructions to mod other DVD players. There’s an interesting write-up of the law case against Sony in Australia as well, which points out that “retailers of DVD players are not bound by the terms of the CSS licence and the accompanying technical specifications”.
This whole thing is one of the reasons I was so concerned about the copyright legislation Canada’s Conservative government was trying to have passed last year. It currently seems to be stalled, so I can show my kids their German-language DVDs, and DVDs from Australia, with a clear conscience a while longer.