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Tuesday, October 10, 2000
Warner attempts to out-hack DVD hackers


"...Time Warner's home video division has changed DVD's region coding scheme to make it even harder to play movies sold in one territory in another. Other DVD distributors are expected to follow suit. Sony subsidiary Columbia Tristar has already agreed to do so. According to a leaked internal Warner Home Video document posted on Web site DVD Debate, the company began shipping discs with an "enhanced" region code at the start of this month.

That's a reference to players from South-East Asia which are nominally coded for a specific region but can easily be recoded to play DVDs from any territory. DVDs are currently coded to identify them for use only in specific world markets, such the US (Region One) and Europe/Japan (Region Two). There's little merit in the scheme - it simply allows movie companies to ship discs to different markets at different times. Many movies currently on sale in DVD form in the US, for instance, have yet to appear in the cinema in Europe.

Warner's enhancement "allows the disc to detect if a hardware player is region specific (as required by the CSS licensing agreement), or if it has been manufactured or altered in the market to be 'region free'. If the player is 'region free' the [Region Code Enhancement] will not allow the disc to play the program material. It will instead display a message on the television advising the consumer that the machine is not authorised to play this disc", says the leaked memo..."



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