Thursday, March 13, 2008

Region coding for video or game

I've wanted to complain about this long time ago. DVD, Blu-ray, or console game region coding is wrong.

I'm no economist, but there's one thing I remember from my economics class in college. "If a certain product can be used globally (e.g. medicine), and there are forces that prohibit the import/export of such product, then the following are the results compared to a completely free market.
  • Consumers are hurt
  • Producers gain extra benefit
  • If we combine the utility (happiness) of consumers and producers, the total utility is still less than that of a free market"
If you argue that medicine should be highly regulated, I can't deny that. But movies? Why can't a German buy an American movie while visiting the U.S., and bring the movie back and watch it at home? Or a South African wants to send a gift to someone in India? Region coding is just a scheme artificially created by big corporations to maximize profits. One key ingredient of profit maximization is price discrimination. Price discrimination is a blatant violation of consumers' right. Why is it that a customer is forced to buy a product from his/her region when and if there's a substitute that is close enough and cheaper from another region? If a customer is willing to pay for extra shipping cost and wait for extra shipping delay, who are we to take away his/her right to buy from other places? Yes, I know most things are priced differently everywhere. "Price discrimination" is more than "different prices". It's "difference price + you can't buy from other places". It is that I'm against.

Protection against piracy they say? How does this artificial barrier increase the difficulty for someone in region 1 to copy a region 1 disk, where the clone is also region 1? In practice, a simple PC nowadays can make region-free copies from a single-region disk! Region coding does not make piracy more difficult.

Some people would say "what's wrong with a company trying to make money? Isn't it their primary purpose?" Even so, companies are still members of this society. There are morals and laws to be followed. Everybody would agree that false advertisement is wrong, therefore laws are made so. Region coding is also wrong. The inability to watch/play something from another region is not a result of some natural economic or technological difficulty (e.g. shipping cost, or a DVD can't be read by a CD-ROM). The difficulty is intentionally created by people. The artificial barrier benefits a small number of corporations, at a greater cost for the consumers. This "rob from the poor, give to the rich". This can't be right. Furthermore, what pisses me off the most is the fact that I hear this kind of argument from consumers themselves! Why are you defending the other side while economists already prove that it's bad for the society?

Video and game region coding
  • costs more to the consumers than benefits to the producers (the society as a whole incurs loss)
  • does not prevent piracy
  • is a scheme cooked up by big corporation no other than profit maximization

See also

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