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France says ‘non’ to US DVD imports

You're not allowed to watch films that haven't been on at the pictures yet

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France has effectively banned the import of US DVDs by tightening a 1982 law designed to protect the nation's cinema industry.

French law currently outlaws imports of movies that have yet to be shown in the cinema. Exceptions to the rule are videos - or DVDs, for that matter - that are sufficiently different from the big-screen release. If it's an English language film and the theatrical version has been dubbed into French, that's OK, you can order a copy of the DVD on Amazon.com perfectly legitimately.

But on 24 November, the French parliament voted to end that provision, DVD Times reports. Come 1 January 2001, if a movie is due for release in French cinemas, home cinema buffs will be breaking the law if they buy a DVD copy from the US. And they will still be banned from doing so until six months after a film's theatrical release.

Region One - the DVD territory that covers North America - tends to get DVDs ahead of other territories, and often they ship with more extra features than their Region Two - Europe - counterparts. Region One DVDs are sold openly in French video stores, says the DVD Times report, which, naturally, the movie industry doesn't like too much since it negates the need for all this regionalisation nonsense.

It certainly sounds like the amendment is the result of effective lobbying by the global movie industry, but we shouldn't rule out pressure from France's cinema owners. We suspect that latter, primarily because of the law they've used to get their way. ®

Related Links

DVD Times' article
That French amendment in full (and in French)

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