Ben Laurie blathering

Astonishing Bullshit from the British Video Association

I have no idea who the British Video Association are, but the BBC think they are good people to answer questions about DRM, errr, I mean “movies in the digital age”. Their answers are worth a read, if you like a good laugh. Here’s a few selected gems.

Q4. Why do the movie companies still insist on region encoding their DVD offerings?

Lavinia Carey: “…regional coding is still the way the British classification system is implemented to protect children from unsuitable material…”

Yeah, right. You can’t even buy a region-locked DVD player in the UK, as far as I know. Certainly I can’t even remember the last time I saw one. If they are region-locked, do they (somehow?) enforce certificates or is this complete nonsense? I’m genuinely curious.

Q1. Can you envisage a time when there is almost simultaneous release of product in the cinema, through rental outlets, in the high street and online, leaving the customer to choose his preferred way of viewing?

Dan Glickman, MPAA: Maybe.

Lavinia Carey, BVA: Yes.

John Fithian, NATO (I couldn’t resist, but actually its the National Association of Theatre Owners): No.

Gotta work on that messaging, dudes.

Q7. What’s the point of DRM?

Dan Glickman, MPAA: “Without the use of DRMs, honest consumers would have no guidelines and might eventually come to totally disregard copyright and therefore become a pirate”

Right, because honest consumers are incapable of reading and have no sources of information other than that graciously provided by the entertainment industry. I do hope they’re going to figure out how to apply this technology to other laws, or we’ll all become murderers, terrorists and child pornographers. We’ll know no better.

Curt Marvis, CinemaNow: “As far as I know, no CinemaNow movies have appeared on P2P networks … so I would say that DRM is actually working”

I did try to check on this unlikely assertion, but their website is “down for maintenance”. Rocking. I suspect, however, that we can conclude that Curt doesn’t know much.

Here’s my favourite, though:

Q8. Was the video recorder damaging? At the time of its release, it was declared to be the death toll for the movie industry. Would you say that declaration was accurate?

Dan Glickman: No.

Lavinia Carey: No.

John Fithian: No.

OK, so we’re all on-message here, it seems. What a shame they didn’t follow this up with the obvious question. But I can predict the response:

Q9. Given that the VCR actually turned out to be beneficial despite the lack of protection against illegal copying, wouldn’t you agree that DRM is a pointless burden on users?

DG: “I’m not listening”

LC: “La la la la la”

JF: “What’s that over there? Look!”


  1. ROTFL!!! 😀 😀 :’-D

    A nice blog entry on a gloomy day. Thanks 🙂

    Comment by Nicola Ken Barozzi — 16 Feb 2006 @ 13:39

  2. Unfortunately the one area where region locked DVD players is still the norm is in laptops. Most of them allow a small number of region changes and then they lock to the last region chosen. Though of course there are firmware hacks around.

    Comment by Jay Daley — 16 Feb 2006 @ 21:21

  3. The certification excuse for region locking does make some vague sense; as the ratings systems and thresholds for what push movies from one certificate to the other vary from country to country, what the US rates as U may not match what the BBFC class as U so in theory a DVD imported from abroad and marked as U may not actually be “suitable for all” in this country. It’s a tenuous reason, granted, but it does have a grain of truth to it.

    (Re: changing regions on DVD-ROM drives in PCs, you don’t need a firmware update — do a Google for DVD43, a free RPC/CSS removal tool that works at a low level to fool your PC into thinking that any disk inserted is unprotected. It can also hide data sessions on audio CDs and therefore does a pretty good job of defeating MediaMax, XCP, et al.)

    Comment by Mat Hall — 22 Feb 2006 @ 12:06

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