DVD region settings can drive you to piracy

Well, my DVD issues are definitely linked to the region setting on my zv6000 laptop. Two minutes with regionset out of AUR made it painfully obvious that I have stumbled onto some sort of vendor lock-in designed to keep me from using a DVD, short of investing in another drive that accepts the region. And to be honest, it’s not worth the trouble to me to try and circumvent something like that.

That’s because my other machine, the Inspiron 8000 with the NEC drive, reads any DVD just fine. It doesn’t matter if it’s U.S.-set, Japan-set or even Taiwan-set (I borrowed some Taiwanese DVDs and tested them as well). They all run fine, play fine and don’t give me any grief. It’s only the bigger machine that’s troublesome. (I’ll have to see if any firmware updates are available for the problem drive, since I burned two region settings checking to see if that was the issue. I hear that sometimes a firmware update will reset the count in the drive, and maybe I can win back a few settings with that.)

The odd consequence of this entire escapade is that it reinforces the idea that digital media — and by that I mean ripped video files, not physical discs — are improvements for people like me. I’d much rather have a backup collection of ogg movies and not bother with region settings and penny-ante tricks like that. It’s hard for me, mentally, right now, to persecute someone for stealing a movie off the Internet if they bought the thing legitimately and can’t use it, because of vendor codes that keep it from working.

So if you’re from the RIAA or any MPAA or any of those other self-important American-based entertainment industry lobbying groups, let’s review:

  1. Your firmware prevents me from playing a legitimately purchased DVD, because it was released from a different part of the planet.
  2. It’s easier for me to download the same movie than it is to make the DVD work.
  3. It’s cheaper for me to download it than it is to buy another DVD, since I’ve learned that it might not play for me, even if it’s legit.
  4. It’s cheaper for me to download it than it is to buy another DVD player.
  5. You just made another pirate and lost a potential sale. QED.

Now tell me again how pirates are ruining the music and movie industries? It seems to me to be the other way around.


6 thoughts on “DVD region settings can drive you to piracy

  1. thomastvivlaren.se

    Well put! They are digging their own grave and have been doing so for more than a decade now! What surprises me is how truly bad management like the one of Sony/BMG and the rest of the mediocracies behind RIAA, MPAA etc is accepted and still remain intact for such a long time. It should be enough for any active shareholder to stay as far away from these people as possible. Some day I am sure a CV containing a reference to Sony/BMG or anyone else of the industrial age dinosaurs will be a rare commodity: “So you worked as an executive for an industry that instead of updating their business models in accordance with technical progress and the information era wanted to turn to judicial measures in order to limit democratic fundaments, hinder further progress and stop new markets to evolve? Next!” 🙂

    Cheers from Sweden!

    /Thomas Tvivlaren (Member of Swedish Pirate Party)

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  3. Kevin (Ket)

    I don’t approve of pirating movies, but I’m not interested in making judgments about it either way, especially when your post is about Region Coding which has been a particularly relevant issue to me lately.

    There is another argument against Region Coding which is seldom used, but, in a way, it is unintentional cultural censorship. Most Americans don’t care about Region Codes because America has one of largest (if not the largest) selection of movies to watch in the world on DVD. When you do a search on the internet on interest in Region Free DVD players, it is typically from movie viewers in European countries who want to watch Region 1 DVDs. I think Americans should care more about how movies are Region Coded. Not only do people around the world face some difficulties in watching our movies (and the MPAA wants it that way!), but we face difficulties in being able to watch movies from around the world. Forget that a lot of Indies from around the world will never see the soil of another country because they’re not profitable the way blockbusters are.

    I’d actually argue that is one of the reasons why American perception of others around the world is so myopic. It may sound silly to use movies to be a window to the world. But consider that movies are probably the most widely indulged of pop culture media, some might even say artform, in the world. It certainly might have something to do with how others around the world view America (case in point, the blockbuster success “Transformers”…Big, Loud, Obnoxious, Ignorant of Other Cultures).

    I’m willing to bet Region Codes have dissuaded people from watching viewers from buying movies they would have otherwise enjoyed. Which means, for those who are not internet savvy (those who are know there that there are resources to watch things…piracy of course being one of them), will only be able to view movies that are deemed fit to be imported and shown to American audiences. How is that not cultural censorship?

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