Fight DVD Religion Coding!
What is DVD Religion Coding?
All major film studios and distributors recently announced their support for introducing a system of
DVD Religion Coding to new DVD releases. Under this system, new DVD players will contain hardware
constraints restricting them to playing only DVDs encoded with a compatible Religion Code.
This proposal has the official backing of The Vatican, leaders of most Protestant Christian sects, several
influential Rabbinical Councils, and many other world religious leaders.
The theory behind Religion Coding is that it allows film distributors to market films selectively to target
audiences with different release schedules. Government censorship authorities also see it as a useful way of
re-packaging, re-rating, or in some cases re-cutting films to suit the sensibilities of different religions.
What Are the Proposed Religion Codes?
Under the proposal for the DVD Religion Coding scheme, the world's faiths will be divided into 8 Religion Codes
- Religion 1 - Catholic
- Religion 2 - Protestant
- Religion 3 - Muslim
- Religion 4 - Eastern European Orthodox
- Religion 5 - Jewish
- Religion 6 - Hindu/Buddhist
- Religion 7 - Shinto/Taoist
- Religion 8 - Other
The Religions Codes are represented by logos, as shown.
How Does The System Work?
When you buy a new DVD player, you will need to inform the retailer of your religion. You will be permitted to
buy a player encoded for that religion. When you buy DVDs, you will need to check the Religion Code Logo on the
back of the packaging to determine which Religion Code is encoded on the DVD. Your player will only play DVDs
encoded with the same Religion Code.
It will be possible with many models of DVD player to perform a hardware modification which puts the player into
so-called "atheist" mode, in which it will play DVDs with any Religion Coding. Such modification is however safely
achievable only by people with electronics knowledge, and voids the warranty on the player.
So Why Should I Care?
DVD enthusiasts around the world decry the Religion Coding scheme as counterproductive, anti-competitive, and
socially divisive. Consider the following points:
- With staggered release schedules for the different Religion Codes, it will be all too easy for film distributors
to decide that the minor religions will not provide them with enough profit to justify a release in that Religion Code.
For example: Independent film and religious analysts predict that the catalogue of titles available to Religion 4
(Eastern European Orthodox) will in the long run comprise only about 35% of the titles available in the more profitable
Religion 1 and Religion 2 markets.
- Titles popular in one Religion Code, but of limited appeal to members of other religions, may be unavailable to
those other religions. This fosters religious isolationism and hinders the free exchange of cultural variety between
peoples of differing beliefs.
- DVD purchasers, presented with an array of DVD titles, may neglect to check the Religion Code on a prospective
purchase and be disappointd when they get it home and realise it will not play on their player.
- People who convert religions will be left with a collection of DVDs encoded for their former religion, which will
be useless in any new DVD player they may purchase.
- There is a potential for increased sectarian tensions between religions forced to share Religion Codes, such as
Anglicans and Lutherans, not to mention the inappropriate and arbitrary combining of two completely different religions
in each of Religion 6 and Religion 7.
- Smaller religions forced into the Religion 8 category may resent being treated as unimportant. This Religion Code
also has potential for serious conflict between such widely varying faiths as Scientology, Wicca, and Satanism.
- Non-religious DVD purchasers may resent being classified in Religion 8, in effect assigning them a de facto religion.
- Minority religions in countries dominated by another religion (such as Hindus in the USA, Catholics in Saudi Arabia,
or Muslims in Japan) may have extremely limited or non-existent local retailers stocking DVDs for their Religion Code.
What Can I Do About This?
Whatever you do, do not give up the fight! There is still time to stop this scheme before it is implemented. Get out
there and tell everybody you know about it.
- Write letters to your Government representative (Member of Parliament, Congressman, Senator, etc) telling them
how concerned you are over these issues. Many members of Government have been deliberately kept in the dark on
this issue, so be sure to explain the scheme to them, as well as detailing your objections.
- Mention the DVD Religion Coding Scheme proposal to your priest or pastor. Many of the lower clergy are unaware
of this proposal, and would justifiably be upset by its implications. Urge them to take up the issue with their
senior clergy members.
- Bring the subject of DVD Religion Coding up in conversations with staff and other customers in the shops where
you see DVDs being sold. A lot of people have not yet heard of the proposal, and will appreciate your informed
appraisal and opinion.
UPDATE: Some places are now selling religion-free DVD players!
Last updated: Tuesday, 23 January, 2007; 02:09:18 PST.
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