To be fair to Sony this would be quite difficult legally to implement.
As different countries recive games and films (for example, UP) on greatly different release dates, region lock prevents people getting items "ahead of time".
Another problem is that differnet counties use varying age rating systems so that means people could theoretically buy a game underage or even a game or movie which is banned in their region. This is illegal and Sony would get the blame for removing the region lock that would allow this.
Finally, region locking allows the correct copyright owner to recieve royalties for each copy, where copyright terms vary between countries.
I admit removing the region lock would have its advantages as people could get games cheaper in other regions and would allow people in your situation to avoid problems like your own but as I have explained Sony would get into a lot of trouble for removing the region lock.
"Battle royale " that nice film were the story is "school kids get to play last one standing wins with Real weapons" is free from Region lock for example.
But DVD is still limited by TV region PAL or NTSC, the US PS3 has no reason to have PAL 50fps/25fps decoding so can fail to play PAL TV Region 0. The PAL PS3 has ALL frame rates covered 60fps/30fps BD 50fps/25fps DVD and 24fps BD....
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The region lock was supposedly created with the purpose of saving cinema releases that can have different release dates in different countries. However, as usual with all DRM and consumer limitation mechanisms, the big corporations are abusing region lock. From a consumer point of view it doesn't make sense that I can buy a music CD in the US and play in Europe but I can't buy a DVD of a film from the 1960s in the US and play it here.
To be fair most of the "legal issues" are entirely of the industry's own making and it suits the industry to keep the restrictions in place. Most of the reasons the industry cites for region encoding are either artificial, could be solved easily by other means or are largely trade agreements.
Without region restriction, yes some regions could see media "early", but that's not a real problem, is it? Well it's all down to business models. As far as I can see things aren't released worldwide for one of 3 reasons (there may be more but these are the most obvious).
1 - The manufacturer cannot produce enough units for the entire market at once, so with the ability to buy from anywhere in the world initial releases may "sell out" more quickly. But this happens with other products, even in non-global markets, and a product selling out actually raises the profile, not dimishes it. At the end of the day a product selling out is making as much money as it possibly can, demand outstrips supply which of course sellers love as they are able to charge more money.
2 - The promoter may not be sure of the product's appeal, and may market in limited territories first, so as not to waste money on global promotion of a turkey. But with the ability to sell globally they could still "test the water" in selected territories BUT would have the advantage to be able to see if other territories ARE interested in the product. Bear in mind the majority will not buy internationally as they are better protected buying "in region" so staggered releases would still be possible.
3 - Language. Production of alternate language soundtracks and subtitles takes time, so for some consumers a version in their own language may not be available straight away. But what if they are OK with it in the original language? Why should people with a second language not be able to watch a product in its original form in their home country simply because a dubbed version is not available, people that want it in their own language will wait till it is finished, in the same way we will have to wait until Terminator 5 is finished.
Added into that is often the "seller" in each region is either a different company OR a different division of a multi-national so there is income at a territory level to consider, but again that is an issue of their own making in how they run their business model. Currently media income is attributed to point of sale, not point of consumption, in the same way "playing royalties" manage to cross borders for music air play, sales royalties could easily do so for cross border purchases, the information is available. Other media consumables like audio CDs and Books are subject to different regional release dates but those businesses survive with unrestricted international trade.
I live in the UK but work a lot in the US, this year I have seen a lot of films at US cinemas before they were released in the UK. I spent my money in the US Marketplace and did NOT (in most cases) go and see the film again in the UK (so no spending in that Marketplace). Nobody checked my passport when I went into the cinema to see if I had the right to do so, nobody suggested that I might be bringing the industry into Wrack and Ruin by watching something earlier than my home territory allows, and yet my PS3 does exactly that. So why is it OK for the consumer to move to the media, but not the media to move to the consumer? All the same market arguments apply regardless of which part of the globe I actually watch the content.
Enforcement of different ratings, though something region codes support as a bi-product, is neither the responsibility of the Hardware or Content providers. There are generally 3 factors that comprise a rating - profanity, sexuality and violence. Profanity is very prevalent in print and audio, so is sexuality, and even violence to a lesser degree, and certain audio and print items ARE banned in certain countries, and yet we do not have region protection on Audio CDs or books (though the latter would be difficult of course). Neither is it a requirement of a content producer to regionally retrict an item based on it's content to only play in a particular region. The rating is purely a requirement for the item to be sold in a particular territory and establishes the restrictions on who it can be sold to. However I could go and buy some hard core pornography legal in one country, but not in mine, and play it on my machine at home, the original producer is not held to account (as it was legal at source), neither is the manufacturer of the equipment I watch it on - nope the person to blame (and held legally accountable) is the importer i.e. Me.
If it were Sony's responsibility to enforce import restrictions, then the fact the original poster has a US machine that will play US content in the UK, then quite frankly they have failed, because in the same way someone can import a Region-A Blu-Ray, they can import a Region-A machine to play it, as long as they have the relevant voltage issues resolved everything works fine. Technically someone could buy 3 Blu-Ray players and be able to watch anything from any region (and it is now possible to buy 3 Blu-Ray players for the original market price of a PS3), since the Region is encoded by point of sale NOT point of consumption. So if region encoding really were a "Legal requirement" then it would need to use either GPS or IP protocols to establish where it was when operating NOT where it was bought.
So really the only "trouble" Sony would get into, would be any of it's business partners that it made "mutually beneficial business deals with" to create an artificially restricted market. But the main reason is Sony is both a hardware producer and a content provider, and also a dominant force in both, so it suits its business model to propagate regionally restricted trade. It carries on doing so safe in the knowledge that most folks won't buy multiple machines to circumvent it.
If this were a real "legal issue", for Video at least, you only have to look at the fact that companies DO produce region free machines (for Video content). Surely they would find themselves subject to huge lawsuits if it were a state imposed legal responsibility - as opposed to a business one (albeit subject to contractual legalities).
There's no longer any good justification for region-locking. The PSP and PS3 are both region-free for games. (though annoyingly the PSP is a fascist and won't let me have FFVII from the US PSN and the Dissidia demo from the US PSN on it at the same time ) Additionally, some companies such as Warner Bros are now releasing all their Blu-Rays region-free. Technically, you're not supposed to be able to easily buy a US Blu-Ray in the UK, but my copy of Watchmen from Amazon.com seems to belie that statement too.
File-sharers, firmware-hackers and professional pirates are the only people region-locking is helping now. If any of the studios still think it's a good idea, they're in la-la land.
This is why I prefered the HD-DVD standard over the Blu Ray on, with HD-DVD there was no such thing as regions, you could buy a disc from America and be safe in the knowledge that it would work on your UK HD-DVD player.
Uhm, hate to brake it to you, but HD-DVD did certainly have a regionlocking mechanism, but it was advised (or rather insisted) to the producers of HD-DVD's not to use it.. HD-DVD had the same regions as dvd if I wasn't mistaken..
It's just like what Sony says when it comes to PS3 games: 'PS3 games are region free'.... oh wait, but why won't Sega's japanese version of bayonette work on a EU PS3? oh ***** they did have a regionlocking mechanism for PS3 games....
Ofcourse I'm also for regionfree BD/dvd players as I have a rather large collection of region 1 dvd's, and ofcourse my current dvd-player won't live that long, and it would be nice to be able to play those on the PS3.. I'm sorry to say this, but if there ever was a way to mod the PS3 and with that mod came regionfree playback, then I'll propably would mod the PS3 only for that (I don't care about being able to play copies, buy my games cheap anyways, I'll just wait for the prices to drop, I don't care about being able to play the newest games immediatly, I have a large collection of older games anyway which I haven't played yet.. (Won't pay more than 15 pounds for a game, and that's including delivery)