11 January 2006

Spielberg, hoist on his industry's own DRM petard

Every time I think about this story, I smile from sheer schadenfreude:
By tomorrow [BAFTA members] have to nominate the films they think worthy of accolade, and Spielberg's Munich was expected to be among them, tipped for awards both in Britain and at the Oscars.

But the preview DVD sent to the academy's members is unplayable on machines used in the UK.
The reason the discs couldn't be played? DVD region encoding.

For those of you who spend all of your time in one country, every DVD is encoded for a particular region, and can only be played back on DVD players set to that region.

Most players can switch to a different region, and will ask if you want to do that if you insert the disc of The Office that your friend in the UK sent you. Problem is, the player will change regions a limited number of times (5 or so), and once you exceed that number, the player will never let you change the region it's set for again. So if the last disc you inserted was from Africa, that player will, in perpetuity, play only discs from Africa.

DVD regions were a stunningly bad idea from the get-go, especially for those of us who regularly travel to more than one region. But Hollywood insisted on them, and so they were implemented, and I'm smiling because Hollywood so richly deserved to have this bite them in the ass.

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