Play Station and copyright
Thu Mar 30 10:05:49 EST 2000
In a message dated 3/30/00 3:43:57 AM, gerow at ynu.ac.jp writes:
<< A humorous story in itself, but what I was surprised in the most (though
not all) of the news stories reporting this said that if DVD from other
regions could be played, "there is a fear copyright laws will be
violated." Personally, I never thought the establishment and maintanance
of region codes had anything to do with copyright law per se. Afterall,
DVD players manufactured as multi-code like the Kones do exist in the
States. A few stories, I think rightly, merely said the machine violates
an agreement between makers of DVD soft. >>
The regional zones for DVD has everything to do and nothing to do with the
copyright laws, but mostly it has to do with territorial rights and copyright
infringements coming from that. You can produce zone-free DVDs that can play
on any system in the world which would have been a wonderful boon to the
global village but is totally terrifying to the Hollywood studios. Just like
the internet, a zone-free DVD can be seen by anybody in any country and can
be bought from anywhere. Because of lax laws and/or enforcement around parts
of the world, the entertainment industries are constantly fighting bootlegs.
That's why there's so many enforcement cases going on and new copyright laws
being created dealing with the internet and streaming--the studios feel that
it's a threat and want to stop it before it can start on a massive scale.
So to get the DVD format off the ground and accepted by the studios, the DVD
designers aligned themselves with the studios by creating these five (?)
artificial zones and creating a Macrovision (copy-guard) system that will
supposedly work. And of course, this creates a big market for DVD players
that can overide the zone codes and macrovision protection. An APEX model
(from China) is currently making national news for being exceptionally easy
to program and watch DVDs from all over the world--and copy them as well. (I
have one on order -- they're particularly cheap at $179 on sale and I need to
see some of the restored silents from France and Germany for the business).
At the same time, as soon as this is discovered, the US Customs officials
start banning the importation of these machines -- the Apex model coming into
the US next month is supposedly going to be different than today's model.
Primarily, the biggest threat is the way business has been done with foreign
distribution over the past century. You make a film and license it per
country to independent or alligned distributors. If I buy a film for the
Unites States for a ton of money, I am not particularly pleased when VCDs and
DVDs from overseas are illegally brought into the country and sold behind my
back--especially before I have a chance to bring it out myself. It doesn't
make me go out and sue everybody, but it makes me think twice about which
films I acquire and from which countries.
The biggest case came with the publication of the second Harry Potter book.
The English edition came out around May and Scholastic in the United States
didn't come out with their edition until about six months later. It was
estimated that over 100,000 copies were purchased in the United States from
Amazon UK and other British and Canadian internet sources. Scholastic was
greatly concerned about this and made a lot of noise to Amazon but the
relative importance of Amazon as a customer, the first sale doctrine in the
US, and the fact that it still became a huge bestseller overode their
concerns. They solved this in the third edition by coming out the same day,
but this rarely can be done in film.
Milestone Film & Video
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