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Thursday, May 25, 2006
HD DVD to Get Regional Controls

Following the policy for the rival Blu-ray Disc format, the DVD Forum is actively considering developing specifications and an enforcement plan to include RPC (Regional Playback Control) on HD DVD-Video titles.

RPC, Regional Playback Control, is a system utilized by DVD manufacturers to limit the use of DVD's to limited geographic regions. RPC is implemented on most commercial DVD's and most DVD players.

The DVD Forum, the industry organization behind the HD DVD format, is in talks with Hollywood studios in order to develop the specifications for the application of regional restrictions for HD DVD Video dicscs.

The decision is part of the 34th Steering Committee Meeting of the DVD Forum, held on May 24 in Seattle, U.S.. The organization approved the establishment of a "HD DVD RPC Ad hoc group" to work with appropriate Working Groups to develop a specification and enforcement plan for RPC on HD DVD-Video, including region map and requirements in consultation with the studios.

However, the first HD DVD hardware from Toshiba, as well as the Qosmio G30 home entertainment laptop, does not feature any region restrictions, meaning that the drive does not check for region coding. The move could be explained by considering that the first HD DVD titles are back-catalogue releases and therefore region coding would be redundant on these discs.

But the DVD Forum's decision suggests that future releases will not be region-free, under pressure from hollywood studios.

The rival Blu-ray camp has already announced its plans to apply regional restrictions for Blu-ray video.

The decisions of the 34th Steering Committee Meeting also include the following:

- Approval of "DVD Specifications for High Density Recordable Disc for Dual Layer (HD DVD-R for DL) File System Specifications, Version 2.0"

- Approval of "DVD Specifications for High Density Re-recordable Disc (HD DVD-RW) Physical Specifications, Version 1.0 and "DVD Specifications for High Density Re-recordable Disc (HD DVD-RW) 1x-speed Optional Specifications, Revision 1.0"

- Approval of "DVD Specifications for High Density Re-recordable Disc for Dual Layer (HD DVD-RW for DL) Physical Specifications, Version 2.0 and "DVD Specifications for High Density Re-recordable Disc for Dual Layer (HD DVD-RW for DL) 1x-speed Optional Specifications, Revision 1.0"

- Approval of "Logo/Mark for HD DVD-RW Dual Layer"

- Approval of "To begin to develop Physical Specifications for China only HD DVD-ROM format in WG-11 ad hoc while China Sub Committee resolves policy issues"

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