We found out last weekend that region 4 DVDs, South America’s format, don’t play in any of our region 1 DVD players. We went today to a local electronics store to look for a multi-region DVD player. All of their players were region 4 DVD players. They claimed that the DVD players played region 1 DVDs (North America), but we didn’t have a region 1 DVD we could use to test the players and verify their claims. We only have a couple of options if we want to play local DVDs–buy a local, region 4 DVD player to complement our region 1 DVD player or order a multi-region DVD player from the United States. We could search the entire continent for a multi-region player, but we might as well buy one from the states with U.S.-style plugs and 110v power. It’s easier to convert across countries than to buy electronics from smaller countries such as Paraguay. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to get electronics overseas due to export restrictions and shipping addresses. The best option would be to go back to the U.S. to buy one, but we probably won’t go back to the U.S. for awhile.
The DVD regions were developed to limit piracy, but the reality is that it does little to stop piracy. The DVD pirates simply burn millions of copies of region-specific DVDs to flood the market illegally. It puts more burden on expats to buy multi-region DVD players. Computer DVD drives are multi-region–why do DVD player manufacturers insist on continuing to sell region-specific players? I think it’s time to ditch the region system and standardize formats across regions. It makes sense, and I highly doubt that it would exacerbate already rampant piracy. I understand manufacturers’ concerns about not wanting to contribute to an already difficult problem, but they also need to understand that expats spend a lot of money needlessly finding ways to play their media across a myriad of different countries, regions, continents, and formats. There’s nothing wrong with the DVD player I have–I bought it when regions weren’t an issue–and it’s silly to have to buy another one because the format is different in South America.