Wednesday, January 11, 2006

DVD region encoding may kill Spielberg's chances for Bafta awards

The DVD screeners for Steven Spielberg's new film, "Munich," which were sent to members of the British Academy of Film and Television Awards (Bafta) were inadvertently encoded for region one (U.S. and Canada) rather than region two (most of Europe). The DVDs, which had already arrived late due to a mess up at UK Customs, are unplayable in the DVD players of most of the Bafta members who received them.

The region encoding scheme is designed to prevent DVDs sold in one part of the world from being resold in other parts of the world. The encoding is actually fairly trivial to bypass, and many inexpensive DVD players made in China (such as those by Apex) have hidden menu options or easily modifiable firmware which allows DVD encoding protection to be disabled.

Premier PR, the company running the "Munich" PR campaign for Bafta, set up several preview screenings of the film in London, but many members of the organization live elsewhere in the UK.

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