Why Lock DVD Players to a Single Region?

Posted by:
Date: Monday, August 27th, 2007, 09:12
Category: Opinion

My MacTracker shows that I have owned 11 different models starting with the 128k original in 1984. Four are in the house with me right now (PB G3, PB G4, iMac G5 and MBP Core 2 Duo). I have dealt with the upgrades to System 7, 8, 9 and OS X as well as the jumps to PPC and Intel.
Through all of this I have been generally happy to be a Mac owner and user. For the past several years I have worked in IT Support in a Windows-only environment, which has given me a bit of healthy perspective about the pros and cons of each system, but my own investments have been in Mac hardware and software.
With that in mind I am truly amazed at how short-sighted it is of Apple to knowingly specify built-in DVD hardware that penalizes law-abiding citizens for the illegal activities of others. I’m referring to the built-in encrypted firmware that locks in the choice of DVD regions to a single region after a few switches. In my older machines I have circumvented this by using third-party software to reset the counter, but this option is not available on the latest hardware from Apple, and should not be necessary at all.
I am from the United States and return often for both business and pleasure, but I’ve lived in Europe for most of the past decade. My family and I have a variety of legally purchased commercial DVD’s from both sides of the Atlantic. I have yet to see any evidence that US or European law requires that DVD players be locked in to a certain region, and region-free players are legally available in all countries.
Steve Jobs has done more than any other single person to make legal, DRM-free music downloads available worldwide. If he is looking for yet another way to win friends, influence people and sell more hardware he can start by:
Read the rest by clicking on the headline…


My MacTracker shows that I have owned 11 different models starting with the 128k original in 1984. Four are in the house with me right now (PB G3, PB G4, iMac G5 and MBP Core 2 Duo). I have dealt with the upgrades to System 7, 8, 9 and OS X as well as the jumps to PPC and Intel.
Through all of this I have been generally happy to be a Mac owner and user. For the past several years I have worked in IT Support in a Windows-only environment, which has given me a bit of healthy perspective about the pros and cons of each system, but my own investments have been in Mac hardware and software.
With that in mind I am truly amazed at how short-sighted it is of Apple to knowingly specify built-in DVD hardware that penalizes law-abiding citizens for the illegal activities of others. I’m referring to the built-in encrypted firmware that locks in the choice of DVD regions to a single region after a few switches. In my older machines I have circumvented this by using third-party software to reset the counter, but this option is not available on the latest hardware from Apple, and should not be necessary at all.
I am from the United States and return often for both business and pleasure, but I’ve lived in Europe for most of the past decade. My family and I have a variety of legally purchased commercial DVD’s from both sides of the Atlantic. I have yet to see any evidence that US or European law requires that DVD players be locked in to a certain region, and region-free players are legally available in all countries.
Steve Jobs has done more than any other single person to make legal, DRM-free music downloads available worldwide. If he is looking for yet another way to win friends, influence people and sell more hardware he can start by:
A) Declaring Apple a region-free company, specifying that all future products will not have DVD regional restrictions built in.
B) Making software updates available to remove OS-level regional restrictions on past and current machines.
C) Pressuring Matshita to develop firmware upgrades to disable the locks built into recent machines, and
D) Using all of the considerable means at his disposal to continue to work towards a truly global distribution model for digital entertainment that does not include regional restrictions.
By taking the lead in this he could make supporters of such restrictions seem to be hopelessly out-of-date obstructionists. Points A, B, and C would cost very little, and if presented in the right manner could create massive goodwill among current and potential future owners without severely damaging relations with key movie executives because, let’s face it, region-free DVD players are essentially ubiquitous in any market where they are necessary.
Point D will require a longer-term approach and considerably more finesse, but offers an even larger payoff for consumers and a massive potential simplification for Apple’s iTunes. Slogging through the quagmire of launching separate iTunes Music Stores in a variety of different European countries, each with it’s own separate legal issues has given Apple the experience and perspective needed to tackle these issues. No other leader or company is hip, smart and potentially profitable enough to alternately shame, goad and entice the music and movie industries towards a future that will work better for consumers, the creators and those who help put those respective groups together on a worldwide basis. (Submitted by Dane Thomas)

Recent Posts