Region Free Dvd Player--legal?

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Patricia, Apr 5, 2006.

  1. Patricia

    Patricia Stunt Coordinator

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    Is it illegal to own a region free or multi region player in the US? I came across an old discussion on here from about 3 years ago that's making me question buying one. I don't want to get one if it is.
    Help.
     
  2. AndyMcKinney

    AndyMcKinney Cinematographer

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    No, it's not illegal to own one.

    I think what is illegal is for stores to sell players as region-free "out of the box." Due to agreements with the MPAA, I think all players sold in stores in the USA have to be sold set to Region 1.

    If the end user (you) wants to modify said player (via remote control code, firmware flash, whatever) to play all regions, that's entirely up to you and within your rights.

    So, the "chipped" players (ones modded to be region free by the reseller) might be in the gray area (or outright illegal), other players that can be altered with a simple remote control code (like Philips) or by flashing the firmware are legal to buy and modify yourself.

    The FBI won't be coming to your house if you buy one of these!
     
  3. Jesse Skeen

    Jesse Skeen Producer

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    Region coding should be illegal!
     
  4. RoryR

    RoryR Stunt Coordinator

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    Yep, which is why I am hoping for HD-DVD success - no region codes. To me Region Coding causes so much illegal piracy, it makes people go online a download the movie because it isn't on DVD in their country yet - most people wouldn't pass up DVD quality for an illegal download, but it happens because of the retarded Regional Coding.

    Blu-ray has this.
     
  5. Manus

    Manus Second Unit

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    "Region coding should be illegal!"

    Amen to that ! I've been watching a lot of old films lately and I think the likes of Hitchcock,Kurosawa, John Ford et al would strongly disapprove of the entire concept of Region Coding. And at this stage it doesn't really achieve anything.

    I would really love to see the concept abandoned for HD-DVD and Bluray and it may make me reconsider giving Hi-Def a miss for now...

    ~M~
     
  6. Jeremy Little

    Jeremy Little Supporting Actor

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    It is in Australia.
     
  7. Patricia

    Patricia Stunt Coordinator

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    Andy,

    I guess obviously it must be legal to make and sell them or else companies like Sony, Philips, Magnavox, etc. who make them wouldn't be able to. And you wouldn't be able to go buy one at Amazon or Best Buy, Circuit City, CompUSA etc., if it was illegal.

    What is region free "out of the box"?

    So, to go to store and buy a Region Free, Multi Region, or a player that says it plays all regions, is fine but it has to be set to region 1 by the maker?

    And, it's only illegal if you buy it from a big store or independent seller or Amazon and they have taken it out of the box and reset the region using the remote or however else?

    So, it's standard to have to use the remote to set up the player to the region you want? Do the manuals tell you how to? I mean, is that how every region free player works, using the remote?

    But what about the term I've heard "hack code", or something like that? Is that when people make a non-region free player region free when they're not supposed to?

    It's all too complicated for me. I miss the old days of just having a VCR, or when I was little we had a player that played these huge discs.
     
  8. Jeff Mason

    Jeff Mason Stunt Coordinator

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    I haven't ready anything about HD-DVD, but Blu-Ray will supposedly still have region codes, although only 3 instead of the current 6(?).
     
  9. Jeff Mason

    Jeff Mason Stunt Coordinator

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    "Out of the box" means that the player would be set to "region free" and and sold that way (and possibly advertised that way) in the store. This is not common in the U.S. and may not be legal (I'm unsure). You won't go into any Best Buy, Circuit City, etc. in the U.S. and find a player that says it is region free on the box, that's for sure.

    It isn't "standard" to have to use a remote to set up the player to the region you want. Only certain players are "hackable" (made to be region free) by punching in a code on the remote. A "hack code" is a code entered into the remote that makes the player region free. This isn't something that the consumer isn't supposed to.

    Actually, making players that are region coded has more to do with pressure from groups like the MPAA and the movie studios than any laws that are in place to prevent it. DVD player manufacturers don't want to piss off the Sonys and the MGMs of the world, so they agree to add region coding to their players. Also, the studios would probably not allow their product to be sold in places like Best Buy if those stores openly sold region free DVD players. In reality the "guts" of the players are the same for most countries, as they are mass produced in factories. The easiest way to accomodate the region coding preferences of each country was to allow the region codes to be programed with the player remote or with some firmware CDs. Some enterprising people just figured out what the remote codes were so that the player could be set to "all regions".

    Again, it isn't illegal to own or make your DVD player region free. I often wonder where people get this notion that this is illegal somehow. I have a friend that sells DVDs from other regions in his shop and every now and then someone asks him if it is legal to sell these discs! If the movie studios are still getting money from the sale of the discs (which they are) how could it be illegal? These are still legitimately manufactured products!!!!
     
  10. Ian_H

    Ian_H Supporting Actor

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    In the U.S. they could be sued for copyright infringement. Miramax has sent plenty of C&Ds to shops importing other region titles to the states for titles that Miramax has the U.S. rights to. Films are bought and sold to many distributors worldwide. The company that releases it in the U.S. might not be the same company that releases it overseas, hence the region coding.


    --Ian
     
  11. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    Even if it's illegal for certain manufacturers, based on contracts they have with studios or licences, to sell a region-free player, I don't think it's forbidden by the law itself. Meaning, that owning (and using) such a player would never be illegal. I doubt if the region coding falls under "encryption", so the MCA wouldn't forbid owning one.

    Here in Europe it's quite different: after a short period when you had to purchase a player and had it "modified" for a small amount (approx. $10) - in practice they were sold directly from a separate pile - it is now common to get a region-free player standardly. I even wonder if region-bound players exist here at all.


    Cees
     
  12. MandyHan

    MandyHan Stunt Coordinator

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    Maybe that's why the PS3 won't have region coding to help reduce piracy...its a pretty good idea. I just hope people cant mod it like the xbox to download bittorrents, etc, because then that opens a whole new can of worms.
     
  13. Deke

    Deke Extra

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    Over here (GB) several 'Import laserdisc' shops got raided some years ago and their stock confiscated, so they began acting as agents and only selling imports that a customer had ordered. Apparently this meant that technically the customer was now breaking the law, but no one prosecuted anyone that I'm aware of, and I've not since heard of any of the DVD-Import stores being raided. Mind you, there's little point. I don't know of a single US DVD that hasn't been released officially over here. We even get TV programmes that aren't shown over here, which suggests to me that they must be making a good return even on low circulation issues.
     
  14. JeremyErwin

    JeremyErwin Producer

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    If you like foreign film, it's almost criminal not to get a region-modifiable player.
     
  15. Douglas R

    Douglas R Cinematographer

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    Really? I suspect Deke that you don't have much interest in older films. How about the following, for example. Mainly Warner Bros, some of which may eventually appear in the UK but invariably without all the extras on their R1 counterparts:
    BRUTE FORCE
    CABIN IN THE SKY
    ADVISE & CONSENT
    THE AMERICANISM OF EMILY
    AND SOON THE DARKNESS
    BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK
    BLACKBOARD JUNGLE
    CROSSFIRE
    DILLINGER
    A FACE IN THE CROWD
    FURY
    GUN CRAZY
    IVANHOE
    KING OF KINGS
    KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE
    LITTLE CAESAR
    LOGAN'S RUN
    THE MAN WHO NEVER WAS
    MISTER ROBERTS
    PUBLIC ENEMY
    TIME AFTER TIME
    TO BE OR NOT TO BE
     
  16. Sean Aaron

    Sean Aaron Second Unit

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    dup post, sorry.
     
  17. Sean Aaron

    Sean Aaron Second Unit

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    dup post, sorry.
     
  18. Sean Aaron

    Sean Aaron Second Unit

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    The region-free nature of HD-DVD and it's release makes me ask the following:

    Will HD-DVD players (which are supposed to be backwards-compatible) play all DVD regions -- including DVDs encoded with RCE?

    Will the advent of HD-DVD mean the death of DVD region-coding (finally)?

    Unless things have changed I don't believe region-free players can be obtained on the high street from major department and electronics shops (unless they happen to be the variety that set codes via remote), but region coding hasn't been much of an issue except with regard to laptop DVD playing. Most DVD-ROM players inside computers now have firmware level encoding as well as software which is pretty difficult to defeat and risks rendering your DVD-ROM drive unusable. I look forward to the death of DVD region coding so I can playback my legally purchased software in whatever device I choose without having to muck about with it first. So far the only way I can see to work around the computer issue is to buy an external R1 DVD-ROM drive, which clearly isn't convenient for watching movies on the go. As a result, mobile DVD watching necessitates taking along my portable Philips DVD player (also with handset hack, natch).

    I'll also settle for the death of all hollywood film companies and/or copyright laws, of course, but it seems to me that they've already rendered region-coding null-and-void by doing worldwide film releases and eliminating it from next-gen media, so what's the hold-up? Are they hedging against a failure of next-gen media and therefore believe region-coding will be necessary in that event?

    I bought a Philips DVD player with handset code from Amazon.co.uk. Works much better than the chipped Aiwa I used to have which had numerous weird glitches that would crop up (unwilling to play a disc unless powered off, randomly turning on parental restrictions, etc.), and the handset hack method is much preferable as it just makes the player that region (if needed, so far setting region to 0 has worked without issues, but RCE will probably necessitate setting to R1 or R2).
     
  19. Marko Berg

    Marko Berg Supporting Actor

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    I would like to know this myself. We can certainly hope for the best since HD DVD software is not region-encoded.

    Blu-ray made a major blunder in incorporating region codes into their hardware and software. As a result, I suspect the PS3 will only be region-free as far as gaming software is concerned, which will only create more confusion and negativity towards the format.
     
  20. Miguel M Santos

    Miguel M Santos Stunt Coordinator

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    Douglas,

    Agreeing 100% with you, I would ;oke to point out that LITTLE CEASER was actually released in the UK as a HMV exclusive, and FURY, BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK, BLACKBOARD JUNGLE, LIBELED LADY and DINNER AT EIGHT have been released in several European countries (all in Germany, and some in Spain, France and Portugal at least), so it is possible that it will be seen soon in the UK. As for TO BE OR NOT TO BE, WB doesn't won the European rights.
     

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