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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

question of the day: Do you think DVD region coding will ever go away?

Here’s a followup to yesterday’s question about how much longer physical DVDs will be with us (before they are supplanted by streaming and on-demand viewing of films):

Do you think DVD region coding will ever go away?

For the uninformed, DVDs sold in different parts of the world are encoded so that they’ll only play on local DVD players. Here’s how the planet is divvied up:

If you’re in the U.S., for instance, and you buy a DVD in Australia — or have a friend lend you one by mail — and it won’t play in the DVD player you bought in Best Buy in Dallas.

It seems that, in the U.S., only serious cinephiles are aware of DVD region coding, because we’ve had to find ways to get around it in order to enjoy movies (and TV on DVD) from other parts of the world. The existence of region coding — and the knowledge about how to thwart it — seems more common outside the U.S., because big Hollywood film, the kinds that are popular all over the planet with mainstream audiences, are often released on DVD first in Region 1 — that is, the U.S. and Canada — sometimes even before those films are released in theaters in, say, Australia or Japan. With anyone able to reach Amazon.com online and cheap international shipping, savvy movie lovers can get a jump on their movie watching.

That’s precisely what the industry is trying to prevent with region coding. But with release windows collapsing and more movies being released almost simulateously around the world, perhaps region coding becomes less imperative.

What do you think?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)



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