The French Have a Word for It: Hacking

    Date16 Jan 2002
    CategoryHacks/Cracks
    3285
    Posted ByAnthony Pell
    All this American in Paris wants to do is watch some Hollywood movies on his DVD player. So why do film studios make him feel like a crook? Problem is, the system is a sieve. To keep down engineering and manufacturing . . . All this American in Paris wants to do is watch some Hollywood movies on his DVD player. So why do film studios make him feel like a crook? Problem is, the system is a sieve. To keep down engineering and manufacturing costs, most makers of DVD players create worldwide models that are technically capable of playing disks encoded for any zone, then configure them at the last minute to play only DVDs from the area in which the machines are sold. Thanks to a pervasive global hacker culture, the Internet abounds with sites providing secret codes that you can send to your DVD player through a remote control. The codes fool the DVD into playing disks from other zones.

    Is this legal? In some places, yes. In others, maybe not. The law is murky, varying from one country to another. While manufacturers don't sanction such downloads or describe them in owners' manuals, they seem to turn a blind eye to the practice. After all, they're more interested in selling boxes than in protecting the profits of moviemakers. One major exception is Sony, which also happens to own a major studio. Most of its players can't be re-zoned, even through modifications to the hardware by experts.

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