El Cosmico here, a few people have written in about this, so I thought I'd repeat it here.
The folks over at DVD Debate posted an article on Friday, supposedly an internal memo from Warner Bros, regarding an effort to enhance the DVD Region Coding scheme, such that multi-region DVD players will no longer be able to play Region 1 discs. Man, the folks over at Warner Bros sure are up to a lot of bullshit these days, huh? Cut that out, eh guys?
Anyway, the original article is over here, it's got plenty of discussion, as does this Slashdot article, which discusses the first. Fun!
This is just the sort of evil crap that those I commonly refer to as "muckety-mucks" enjoy pulling on those of us who seek enjoyment out of life. I, for example, have a fine region-free player, with which I enjoy a great lot of imported region 2 discs from Japan and Europe. For example, I can't get Microcosmos on Region 1. Or tons of Anime. Or really good foreign porn. Also, while everyone's been confused by the whole Region 1 release of Leon: The Professional, I've had it on a Region 2 disc for what seems like an eternity, so I'm pretty much oblivious to the whole issue.
So now, they're saying that I won't be able to play new Region 1 discs on my player?
It's like two grains of rice, on both sides of its head, and they are called the snake's horns.
This doesn't affect people living in Region 1 nearly as much as people in Regions 2 and 3, who buy most of the code-free devices. Of course, that's MILLIONS and MILLIONS of people, most of them living in very industrialized countries, with LOTS of spending cash. Region-free players are VERY widespread in these two Regions. I really can't wait to see their reaction if this becomes widespread. Will they just start buying Region 1 and eschew product from their own Region? Will the French farmers and teamsters blockade the seaports? I'm gonna have to pick up a couple of these discs and see how things go. I think this is a pretty interesting situation, both because it affects a lot of people in a lot of countries, and because it's entirely producer-driven, that is to say, NO consumer on the face of the Earth likes Region Coding. We all want it to go away, because it's STUPID, and it makes our lives less pleasant.
Ultimately, this is just sad. It further strengthens the argument that in our modern times, when the world is being brought closer together by new media, the studios really need to move to simultaneous or near-simultaneous worldwide releasing of films, so that their paranoia and control-freak attitudes don't kick in. This latest move will only encourage piracy, and provoke a great lot of ill will.
Please be so kind as to post your thoughtful comments. I leave you with the original contents of the aforementioned article:"Warner Brothers have issued an internal note on an enhanced Region Coding Scheme to DVD Suppliers in R1.
The new advanced approach may render some R1 discs unplayable on existing Multiregion players. Known discs to include this technology are The Perfect Storm and Columbia Tristar's The Patriot. Read more to see the actual note...
Regional Code Enhancement (RCE) Program
WHV will start a program to enhance the capabilities of the regional code specification for DVD beginning in October. This program is a response to the unauthorized practice of altering DVD video hardware players so that they bypass the region code requirements for DVD. This is happening on a more frequent basis in many territories, and retailers are openly marketing these non-complying players with names such as “region free” and “multi zone”.
The Technology – The enhancement is an additional imbedded code (RCE – Regional Code Enhancement) on the DVD disc that makes the current regional coding more robust.
How It Works – In simple language, the RCE allows the disc to detect if a hardware player is region specific (as required by the CSS licensing agreement), or if it has been manufactured or altered in the market to be “region free”. If the player is “region free” the RCE will not allow the disc to play the program material. It will instead display a message on the television advising the consumer that the machine is not authorized to play this disc.
The actual wording will be as follows:
THIS DVD PLAYER MAY HAVE BEEN ALTERED AND IS UNABLE TO PLAY THIS DISC
THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THIS DISC
DVD PLAYERS AND DISCS ARE DESIGNED TO WORK IN CERTAIN REGIONS
THIS DISC IS NOT COMPATIBLE WITH THIS PLAYER
PLEASE CONTACT YOUR LOCAL RETAILER OR PLAYER MANUFACTURER FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
WE APOLOGIZE FOR ANY INCONVENIENCE (Yeah Right!)
WHV will start applying the RCE to discs scheduled for release in the U.S. market beginning in late October. At this time, the RCE will only be applied to Region 1 versions of titles. At least one other studio (Columbia TriStar) will also be releasing discs with the RCE during the 4th quarter.
The program has two objectives. (1) Discourage the export of region 1 discs to other regions and (2) discourage the sale of DVD video hardware that has been modified to “region free”.
WHV Sales personnel should immediately begin to communicate this program to key retailers in their respective territories.
It is especially important to focus on retailers selling product online, and any account, which may be exporting products outside Region 1.
With the online retailers, we must discuss the need to properly notify consumers outside the region 1 territories that the disc may not play in their player before the disc is purchased. The customer dissatisfaction and returns risk is significant if this is not done.
At this time there is no plan to send out a press release on this program. This document should be used to review the program with all U.S. accounts."