Wednesday, July 12, 2006

"We don't talk about things like that in public, dear"

The DVD region code was an exceptionally useless invention to begin with. One could think that at a time when a) one can buy two DVD players with two different region codes for under 150 euro and b) a lot of people torrent movies from the Net without the benefit of buying a DVD of any region this stupidity would be long forgotten. But no, never underestimate stupidity.

Manufacturers nowadays make most players so that you can in fact change the region by feeding the player some code, drawing a pentagram, jumping in and out of it and howling at the full moon. I know this. You know this. DVD manufacturers know this. Tribesmen from Papua who have not invented fire yet know this, and maybe even our dear Minister of Culture knows this. However, most manufacturers refrain from putting this information on the player, the box that it comes in, the manual or their own homepage in an apparent desperate attempt to convince any aliens who observe our Earth in an extremely cursory fashion that they have absolutely nothing to do with the fact that the players that they make actually can change the region code.

When I was young I used to know a number of young Russian women who claimed that they never masturbate and never fart. I never imagined they would monopolize the DVD player manufacturing, but apparently they did.

Since pretty much everyone wants to buy DVD players that can play any DVDs they want one would also think that all the stores (online and otherwise) that sell them would compile the region-unlocking instructions of all the models that they currently offer for sale and put them somewhere visible. However, most of them don't. As the result you usually cannot just buy a player normally but have to look up the unlocking instructions on the Net first.

The funniest thing about it is that most DVDs don't have a real region code either. A lot (I would not vouch for most) of DVDs sold as region 1 are indeed region 1. Most of the ones sold as region 2 are in fact region-free (which you can easily notice by putting them into a player set for region 1 and having them play quite normally. Most of the region 3 are also simultaneously available as region 0, and I've never seen anything that would come from the region 6 and was indeed region 6 - they were all region 0 and marked as such. (Region 0 is the same as region-free.)

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