2010-01-04

Region Coding

This is hardly a new complaint, and the media companies and everybody else are I'm sure familiar with it. So I'm just venting here. But still....

A year or so ago, I paid about CDN$60 for a copy of the DVD set Smiley's People. It's not a bad production, as I recall; I thought I might watch it again.

Unfortunately, since the last time I watched it, I've replaced my old DVD player with a PS3, bought here in Japan (where I live). While I was happy to thank Acorn Media (to the tune of $60) for making this DVD set available, I can no longer play it. Better yet, I cannot anywhere buy a copy that I can play on my PS3; such a thing does not exist. (There appears to be a region 2 version of the DVD set available, but it's a PAL version, and Japanese (and also American) PS3s do not play PAL discs.

So what am I supposed to do here? Buy another DVD player?

I suppose I could try to find appropriate software to rip the DVDs and convert the output to something I can play on my PS3. Were I in the US or UK, this would be illegal. (In Canada and Australia, apparently it's ok.) I don't know the situation for Japan; does anybody else? It's also a lot of work, for someone who doesn't usually do this.

I could just go and find a BitTorrent site that has these, and download them. That would be easy and free. But that makes me wonder, why did I spend $60 in the first place?

This sort of pain has hit me before, and will no doubt hit me again. I feel as if I'm receiving a very clear message from the media companies: it's not only cheaper, but more convenient to download pirate copies of what I want to watch. I own more than eight hundred CDs, close to four hundred DVDs and as of late a handful of Blu-ray discs as well. Is this really the message they want to be sending someone like me?

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