We still have DVD regions??? Really? I was under the impression that they had just quietly went away in shame. But as I recently discovered… I was very very wrong.
So here’s the background for this rant. I have a number of DVDs that I bought in the US. Having bought them over there, they are in “region 1”. European DVDs are in “region 2” so I have to keep the DVD on that region for rentals and any DVDs I buy here. I can switch the DVD reader from one region to another, but I can only do so a limited and small number of times, so it’s not like I can keep switching the region as I play different DVDs.
I completely fail to understand how DVD regions actually help prevent piracy in anyway (if you get it, help me out here), but what it means to me is that I am not allowed to properly and easily watch DVDs that I have purchased legally. This is a very very important point, maybe the most important point. I did the right thing, I purchased the DVDs instead of pirating them and now, instead of being rewarded for this, I am being “punished”. How does that encourage me to buy more DVDs? In the global world we live in right now where people move around so much and travel is so common, I find this system to be completely idiotic. Actually, let me build that up one step further, just so that we see how deep the rabbit hole goes.
One idea out of my predicament would be to rip these DVDs or to make copies that are region-free. But of course, that’s illegal as well. Yes, ripping my own, legally purchased DVDs, for my own, personal use, is not strictly speaking legal either (it depends on where you are in the world, but my understanding of UK law is that it is not legal).
Take a step back now and compare this with what one does when downloading a film illegally. They go online, find their film on a website in less than a minute, download it in a matter of hours (if they have a really good connection, they can probably start watching right away) and they are free to store, copy and make use of that film however they desire. All that for free.
I wonder how much longer will it be before people in the music & film industries understands that pirating is doing so well not necessarily because it’s free, but because it’s hugely incredibly more convenient than the legal options. It’s how it should be right now, it’s what you expect from modern technology given the way the world around you works. Right now, clients have to pick between a paid service which is extremely inferior to the “free” one. When you put it that way, it’s not that hard to see why the morals of pirating films become easy to overlook for such a high percentage of the Internet population.
So do you want to stop people pirating? Never mind the DRMs, never mind the DVD regions, never mind the little holograms, drop all those programs and invest in making it easy for me to get to my content! I am willing to bet that if most people had to pick between a legal and reasonably priced option that would allow the same “benefits” as the illegal free one, they would happily give you their money. But as long as the media companies are trying to offer their consumers less, for more money, they will keep losing battle after battle until they get wiped out. Just look at online streaming services. It’s convenient, it works well and people will pay for it, even though they could get the same service for free.