The concept of limiting the release of something to a particular country or region seems almost naïve. At best, country based filters only slow down the propagation of media by cutting off any legitimate channels of distribution. The result, predictably, is that it also accelerates the distribution of popular media across all of the ‘less legitimate’ channels out there. The reality today is that you can download just about any season of just about any television series by using tools like bittorrent, with zero benefit going to the creators of those works. And I would bet that the lower down the global distribution pecking order a region is, the more adept the people there are at finding ways to get what they want.
This clearly isn’t the outcome any of the media companies want.
Now I do understand that there is a whole syndication framework that depends on these regional restrictions being enforced. The whole concept of “region codes” in both video tapes and DVD’s was added almost 30 years ago specifically to support this. But as much as the media companies my want to preserve the economic benefits they were able to enjoy from this aging model, the whole concept of geographical segmentation simply doesn’t apply in a digital world. The topological boundaries that separate people in the real would simply don’t exist in cyberspace. People are connected with family, friends and colleagues globally through sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, or even XBox Live. They talk with each about the movies, music, and television they enjoy. There is a uniquely inclusive social fabric that develops online that is no longer governed by local conventions. Nobody in America is going to hold back from talking about the final season of a show like “LOST” simply because it hasn’t been released yet in a country where one of their friends lives.
Media at it’s most successful becomes part of the common culture.
And common culture – in a digital world – is global
(Region code 0 for all you old schoolers)
For a very funny take on this issue, check out this video clip of “Walt Mosspuppet” commenting on the release Hulu Plus – a paid version of the Hulu video service jointly owned by NBC, FOX, and ABC:
There is a world of people out there who are willing to acquire media through legitimate means, but who are simply being turned away. If even empty headed puppets can understand this, why can’t the media industry?…