the whole thing is a crock and restricts our rights as consumers to buy what we want from whom we want. isn't that what the "free market" is supposed to be about? if i prefer european or japanese dvds, shouldn't i be able to do so? the entertainment industry doesn't think so.
so i got a chuckle out of this guardian story, about how a region encoding error is keeping spielberg's film munich out of the running for the british version of the oscars:
the preview DVD sent to the academy's members is unplayable on machines used in the UK. As a result the majority of Bafta's 5,000 voters will not have seen the film, due to be released in Britain on January 27, and can hardly be expected to recommend it for acclaim.
Sara Keene at Premier PR, the company coordinating Munich's Bafta campaign, blamed the mistake on human error at the laboratory where the DVDs were encrypted. "Someone pushed the wrong button," she said. "It was a case of rotten bad luck." She insisted that the film's distributor, Universal, was not at fault.
The problem, it appears, was partly down to teething troubles with the limited edition DVD players issued last year to Bafta members. Developed by Cinea, a subsidiary of Dolby, the players permit their owners to view encrypted DVD "screeners", but prevent the creation of pirate copies. Munich screeners were encoded for region one, which allows them to be played in the US and Canada, rather than region two, which incorporates most of Europe.
region encoding harms consumers by restricting their freedom to shop. but not just consumers: it harms film lovers everywhere who are unable to watch quality films because they haven't been released in a particular market. that's what DRM does: it doesn't stop piracy, as the true pirates and bootleggers can easily find their way around DRM. all it does is restrict the options of the little guy.
DVD screeners remain a vexed issue for distributors concerned about the potential for piracy. But the evidence suggests that they play a vital role in raising a film's profile among award voters.
"There are over 5,000 Bafta members," Ms Keene explained. "With the best will in the world, they don't all come to the preview screenings. Unless you send them DVDs it is really hard to get a film nominated."
This point was brought home last year when the distributor Entertainment took the decision not to provide Bafta voters with screeners of Million Dollar Baby. Clint Eastwood's boxing drama failed to gain a single nomination at the 2005 awards. One month later it scooped the major honours at the Academy Awards.¶