RE: why won't this video play?

Jeffrey Clark (clarkjc@jmu.edu)
Sat, 22 Jun 2002 11:20:22 -0700 (PDT)

Gilles,

--On Friday, June 21, 2002 2:19 PM -0700 Gilles Poitras
<gilles@exploratorium.edu> wrote:

>> If (a) applies, you're basically in the situation of #1 above. Buy it,
>> be glad you got it if it's unique, and use it as is. Get that VCR
>> that'll play it if it's really important to you.
>
> For the consumer this gets frustrating, my British friends regularly buy
> US videos which they play on their NTSC decks or modified DVD players. Now
> they have to buy these direct from retailers in the US as retailers in
> their area cannot legally sell NTSC videos.
>
> Apparently customs in the UK has no problems with letting such shipments
> through after inspecting them for sexually explicit materials, which they
> do block.
>
> Among my friends purchases are the complete Monthy Python TV series on
> DVD, it is not available in the country of origin and of course lots of
> anime.
>
> If they want the latest Hollywood film they can get it there, but titles
> not in the mainstream are very hard to obtain. As they are non-English
> foreign film and animation fans this means most of what they own. Face it
> in their case they live in a small country where many titles are not
> likely to be available locally due to a very limited market.
>
> One advantage they have is they can buy Japanese DVDs and play them on
> regular players as Europe and Japan are both in region 2. Me I had to get
> a modified player, just like NASA did for the International Space Station,
> and one major US animation company who I advised on their purchase (the
> may not want their name mentioned).

What you're saying here reinforces my main impression that (a) normally
applies. Licensing is set up restrictively on the assumption of where the
real market is likely to be. If other sales develop outside that area, then
"look the other way" and savor the gravy. Import authorities in most
countries, I'll bet, won't be an obstacle (with the sort of exception you
cite for the British). The licensee might only reasonably expect that the
international consumer who goes out of his or her way to buy titles not
locally/maybe never locally available, will also go out of their way to buy
appropriate equipment to play them on without violating copyright. (And
that's what my main point really boils down to.)

But if marketing consciousness decides from experience that there's real
gold to be had from international distribution, two things will usually
happen. Rights will be sold for foreign distribution. And muscle will be
applied on the import version by the new rights holder. That's what's
happening with the Disney complex's (Buena Vista/Miramax) clamping down on
select Hong Kong and Japanese product they now have the international
rights to repackage. So recently, for example, www.pokerindustries.com will
no longer sell certain titles going to U.S. addresses.

The one dark cloud on the horizon for U.S. consumers, of DVDs at least, is
the pending Consumer Broadband & Digital Television Act (CBDTA)--which
would prohibit technology that does not recognize digital rights management
measures implemented in copyrighted works. This would make
multistandard/region players outlaw--at least for their multiregion
capability--if the player's technical method of overcoming region coding is
to ignore the region flag in the software.

But I'm reasonably optimistic that this legal dog won't hunt, thank
goodness....

Jeff

**********
Jeff Clark
Director
Media Resources (MSC 1701)
James Madison University
clarkjc@jmu.edu
540-568-6770 (voice)
540-568-3405 (fax)