I understand why companies think they want to use DVD region codes. Hollywood dreams of controlling movie release to hit different markets at their optimal times for maximized sales. This, at least, is the official reasoning. I’d love to see their actual numbers, because I don’t think they’ve succeed.
But consider that the world is now very mobile. People travel a lot, in addition to simply knowing what’s going on in countries around the world thanks to the internet. So we in the UK know that Wreck-It-Ralph was release six months ago in the US and it’s just coming out monday here. If we have connections (family/friends, etc) we can get a copy shipped over long before it’s available here. Assuming we can break the region coding of our player. If we don’t, but really want to have the video to play at home, them there are… less legitimate options.
Either way, we’re made to feel criminals.
Do most of us want to steal a copy of the movie? No. And wanting is not really an excuse. However, in todays world, where Big Biz has trained us for instant gratification, they then expect us to wait on their leisure to see a movie we really want to see? I humbly suggest they can’t have it both ways. Hence casual video piracy and/or region code hacking.
My family, for example, is transcontinental (North America / Europe) so we have movies from regions 1 & 2. I also like Japanese and Korean cinema (the originals) so I have region code 3 movies (Pro Tip #1: interestingly, most porn is region code 0, which can be played on any system. so the option does exist).
Therefore, we had a hacked Blu-ray player. Until the company updated the firmware (Pro tip #2: if you hack your region codes, avoid firmware updates like the plague).
Anyway, I suspect that, while control of distribution remains one reason for region codes, a larger one (or at least growing) is to exclude or reduce competition from foreign markets like China, Japan, Korea, and Bollywood. These markets keep growing and, with the ever increasing international nature of the world, they would be a serious competition to the US market, if not for region codes.
(Pro tip #3: in most places, there’s no law against making a backup of your movies. Most software today can rip DVDs independent of the region code. And, of course, the resulting video file is region code free.)
Of course, they will eventually present such a challenge anyway. The region codes only prolong the inevitable. So Hollywood, I sure hope you’re working on better, more reasonable ways of keeping your market share (like producing quality movies) or you will be swamped in the not-to-distant future. Because it’s a small world baby, and we don’t need no regions!
Insight and longevity.