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Australians fighting region coding

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8 replies to this topic

#1 of 9 Chad B.

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Posted May 23 2001 - 04:34 PM


Regulator challenges DVD zones
By Consumer Affairs Reporter MICHAEL OWEN-BROWN

A REGIONAL zoning system that forces consumers to pay up to 20 per cent more for DVD movies is being challenged by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

The ACCC says major Hollywood studios have collaborated with the manufacturers of digital video disc players to prevent discs manufactured in the US, Europe or Asia from working in Australian machines.
The commission has asked the Australian subsidiaries of US film companies to explain their actions in what could lead to the world's first legal challenge to the Regional Playback Control system.

Under RPC, the world is divided into six regions. Australia is in region four with New Zealand, the Pacific Islands and South America.

Each disc and DVD player is encrypted with a digital code so that only discs programmed for sale in region four will work with Australian players. This prevents people from buying cheaper DVDs overseas or through the Internet. DVD movies cost about $35 here. The system aims to protect cinema ticket sales by preventing people ordering DVD movies yet to be released in Australia.

However, the arrangement may breach the Trade Practices Act.

ACCC Commissioner Ross Jones said in a recent speech the zoning system prevented small film companies from distributing their movies around the world.

"Their sales are generally too small to justify catering for region four. This reduces competition to the advantage of US studios," he said.

By the end of 1999, there were 720 DVDs available in region four, but more than 5000 in the US.

Australian Consumers Association spokesman Charles Britton said yesterday the zoning system imposed a "severe restriction of choice".

Although unsure whether ACCC action could realistically force Hollywood moguls to scrap the system, Mr Britton said "a statement of principle would be very useful".

He said it was feasible that a court could order that all DVD players sold here have a multi-zone capability.


#2 of 9 Jeff Kleist

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Posted May 23 2001 - 05:30 PM

Whoohoo! Go for it guys!

Then we could have a good steady legal source of region free decks Posted Image

Jeff Kleist

#3 of 9 Matt_Stevens


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Posted May 24 2001 - 01:04 AM

Never happen. But if it did, man oh man would it be fantastic.


#4 of 9 andrew McC

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Posted May 24 2001 - 08:49 AM

I'm not 100% certain, but I thought region coding was illegal in New Zealand, and all players had to be region free by law.

#5 of 9 Roger Mathus

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Posted May 24 2001 - 12:36 PM

Region free players are easily available in Asia including Japan. I have been told that almost all players sold in Hong Kong are region free, but do not know the facts. Players are getting so cheap that it might be more practical than mod to buy second player for another region.

The Columbia Tristar RCE scheme is also not foiled by most modified players.

Price and selection makes Region 1 discs very popular around the world.

Region code is only an inconvenience and not a barrier.

#6 of 9 dcaconnolly



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Posted May 25 2001 - 09:48 AM

It is correct that almost all DVD players in Hong Kong are sold as all-code machines,and that the major stores sell Region 1 and 2 discs as well as Region 3 (Asia). But the main market is for R3 discs, because they have Chinese subtitles, and the R1/R2 discs just fill in the gaps where the local distributor hasn't released an R3 version.

Earlier this year I checked the situation in the UK, and was told by a major London retailer that 80% of players are 'chipped' (converted to all-code) but that this costs typically US$150 extra. In Hong Kong there is no surcharge for all-code, though if you bargain heavily in some shops the 'all-code' turns out to be an extra. The all-code mod. theoretically voids the warranty, but in practice this is not a problem.

The Columbia RCE discs mostly won't play on all-code machines, which hurts Columbia more than anyone else IMHO. RCE must be a real nuisance for US users with all-code machines, as well as the rest of us in R3 and elsewhere. It certainly reduces their disc sales, and doesn't really help anyone.

As for the Aussies and R4, the ACCC is really showing up how stupid R4 really is. You can't sell a disc in South America unless it has Spanish/Portugese subtitles, and the rest of R4 comprising Australia/NZ and the Pacific (but of course excluding Guam)has less than 30 Million population - not worth the trouble of a special R4 edition. So the ACCC is totally correct that the R4 coding is denying people access to titles available in other countries. Like everyone else here, I wish them luck - though if all-code machines are mandated I won't hold my breath for low prices of the kind we have today in HK.

#7 of 9 Jeff Kleist

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Posted May 25 2001 - 07:12 PM

If they outlaw region coding, the player makers will have NO CHOICE but to make them all region.

I realize those players are easily available in HK, but I can't find a good exporter that won't charge me $200 for the privilage of region free. THose chips are $2 apiece, it's a total rip. If I order an Aussie deck, they'll be sub $300, and much better than the APEX I'm using now

Jeff Kleist

#8 of 9 Anthony Thorne

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Posted May 25 2001 - 09:45 PM

Well, a lot of Aussie DVD players (in the right stores, anyway) are Region Free... by that, I mean that they offer the capability of selecting which region you wish to play. You just press '1' on the remote before popping in a Region 1 disc, and '4' for an Australian DVD, '2' for a Japanese release etc...

Whilst the big department stores don't officially sell these players, the middle-sized hi-fi stores (like JB Hi-Fi, the popular discount Hi-Fi store) does. I went into JB a couple of weeks ago and they were proudly displaying multi-region players in the middle of the shop, none of this behind the counter nonsense.

I'd hazard a guess that local players would work better than the Apex at playing multi-region discs. By this, I mean that the NTSC playback is perfect for us here, and the PAL playback is just as good, (even though a lot of local collectors use it less). Likewise, NTSC/PAL compatible TV sets are the norm down here now, as are PAL/NTSC Hi-Fi VCR's...

#9 of 9 Roger Mathus

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Posted May 26 2001 - 01:10 AM

RCE discs from Columbia Tristar seem to play just fine in the code free DVD players sold in Japan.

This weekend I am in Hong Kong and note that even the big CD/Video stores sell all region discs side by side. This also includes PAL as well as NTSC. Players sold here seem all to be region free and PAL/NTSC compatible. On some of the portable DVD players it is necessary to power off between playing discs from different regions.

Also, Crouching Tiger is back on the market with English subtitles.