I was talking to my son Isaac this afternoon, the subject of gaming came up, and somewhere in the conversation he mentioned that the Sony PS3 was going to be free from region coding, and how good that was.
And I thought to myself, how odd. I grew up with 33 rpm albums and 45 rpm singles, and I could buy them anywhere and play them anywhere. We even had 78 rpm “lacquer” platters, and these played everywhere as well. So I can listen to William Booth talk to his troops on my 1905 mechanical gramophone, T.S. Eliot read his poems on a 33 rpm 12″ “LP” and the latest “vinyl” single from the Arctic Monkeys, all without worrying about region coding.
Why stop with records? I had no problem with reel-to-reel tapes and cassette tapes and even CDs. The first time I hit the oddness of region coding was with my son’s console games, on an early Nintendo I think, and soon after that we had the DVD debacle that continues.
DVD region encoding offers less than zero value to the consumer; allows for unnecessary price and time discrimination between markets; promotes piracy and illegal copying as a result of those discriminations; provides no incremental value to the artist(s).
DVD encoding was brought into existence pretty much by stealth, most of us found out about it after the event. Which was probably a good thing, since it woke me up to the dangers of bad DRM and bad IPR just at the right time.
Because of the stealth approach, many people have no idea what the regions are. I thought it would amuse you to see the actual regions. Looks like a political map of something in Second Life….