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HD DVD to incorporate region-coding restrictions

China to get own disc format too

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HD DVD is to get region coding after all, if the DVD Forum, the industry organisation that maintains the DVD format, has its way. This week, the Forum decided to put in place a team to create a region-coding scheme for the next-generation optical disc technology.

At a meeting held in Seattle earlier this week, the DVD Forum's Steering Committee agreed to form a working group to "develop a specification and enforcement plan for RPC [Region Protection Coding] on HD DVD Video, including region map and requirements in consultation with the studios".

HD DVD media and players currently lack the capacity to prevent discs bought in country A to be played in a drive purchased in country B. That's how DVDs work, much to the annoyance of many consumers who want to be able to buy better versions of movies produced for territories of their own.

That said, plenty of canny consumers have bypassed the block by having their players adapted or by seeking out no-name machines from Asia that either don't impose region restrictions or make it easy to disable them.

The Blu-ray Disc camp is already known to be working on an equivalent region coding system for BD discs that reduces the DVD format's seven world zones to just three: North and South America and Asia (but not China); Europe and Africa; and Russia, China and everywhere else.

Speaking of China, the Steering Committee also approved a plan to develop a new, China-only physical disc format capable of holding HD DVD content.

The DVD Forum Steering Committee also approved a variety of recordable and rewriteable specifications, including dual-layer HD DVD-RW media. ®

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