Kind Of Funny, Kind Of Ridiculous

My kids bought the first seasons of Heroes in Australia for the flight back to the US. It was one of several DVDs they bought in Australia. They watched them all on their laptops.

They didn’t finish it so Josh pulled the CD out of his laptop and put it in our DVD player. He got a blue screen (why is bad news always delivered in blue in electronics?) that said "region not supported" or something similar. He asked me what that meant. I told him that our DVD player would not play an Australian DVD. He was incredulous. How could that be? This is the generation of the Internet we are talking about. They think its one global economy and don’t understand why if you bought a DVD in Australia it won’t play in the US.

So he was bumming out and then I pointed out to him that we have a Mac Mini in every entertainment system in our home. So he just switched the input over to the Mac Mini and is watching Heroes just fine.

Kind of funny but also kind of ridiculous.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. andreas

    Hi Fred,Great to hear you enjoyed your trip Down Under (I’m in Perth.)How did you overcome the Mac Mini’s DVD Player ‘Region Control’, which is rather silly as well?All my Macs DVD Players let me change the regional setting only five times in the past. Then they would lock me down.Andreas

    1. fredwilson

      Yup.I figure we’ve used up one of them with AustraliaBut its five times better than our DVD playerfred

      1. andreas

        It shouldn’t be difficult to ‘hack’ your DVD player.I have a region-free player now, but I remember that it was extremely easy to render my previous player region-free by pressing buttons in a certain sequence.Andreas

  2. Stephe Wilks

    And, of course, the converse applies – we’re travelling *from* Sydney to the US at the moment, and making the obligatory side trip into the odd mall or two.My boys look at the DVDs and struggle to comprehend why they’re not allowed to buy the legitimate product they see before them, to play on their legitimate DVD player “back home”…But, it gets worse when I have to explain that the same prohibitions apply to their PS3 and Nintendo DS games. The “internet” generation was struggling already with the ‘old media’ thinking on the DVDs, but – to the extent that they have a small exposure to game machines like the PS3 – it’s even harder to explain why anyone would want prevent purchase of legitimate product!But, I get to do RIAA jokes – which is always worthwhile…

    1. andreas

      Stephe,Your kids might be happy to know that this does not apply to Handheld Console Games, aka. Nintendo DS & PSP; only to Home Consoles.Andreas

    2. Stephe Wilks

      Ooops – while the point remains for my younger child’s GameBoy, Andreas is right in his comment about this – and, in fact Sony has gone one better.*All* PS3 games, as well as the Nintendo DS lite games are region free! The console still supports region encoding for BluRay and DVD of course, but we were educated today by a very helpful game store employee (and have since verified with a bit more research) that the englightend Sony folk allow cross-region game acquisition. Shows just how bad asumptions can be… Sorry Sony![and Cooper is a very happy young man this morning, with a shiny new copy of Ratchet & Clank to take home!]

  3. Martin Gordon

    I had a similar experience when I went to South Africa last month. I wanted to get caught up with my TV shows, but NBC and ABC would have nothing to do with my South African IP address. Even more ridiculous was that I couldn’t watch anything via Netflix despite paying for it with my US credit card and having my movies shipped to a US address (in other words, I’m clearly American). BitTorrent, on the other hand, works the same everywhere, and that’s where I was forced to go to get my TV shows.

    1. fredwilson

      That happened to my kids in australiaWhen they went to watch their shows on the internet, they couldn’t becauseof an australian ip addressWhen they are 40 and running entertainment companies, I promise you it won’twork like that!fred

      1. Stephen L. McKay

        Fred,And they will (run such businesses, or run other very profitable concerns that benifit us all)!No doubt, the apples don’t fall far from the tree!Steve

        1. fredwilson

          Who knowsThat was more about their generation than my kids in particularfred

          1. Stephen L. McKay

            Yea, but I’ll still bet on your kids!Steve

  4. mattmaroon

    Yet another reason to just download all of your favorite TV shows via Bittorrent.

    1. andreas

      I don’t know but legality aside, I still find Bittorrent to cumbersome.It’s hard to obtain a good torrent.Andreas

      1. mattmaroon

        Really? Just search isohunt, take the one with the most seeds.

        1. duke

          For older episodes (like the first season of Heroes), I find eMule to be much better than torrents. Go to a site like:

  5. vruz

    kind of silly, but also interesting how new market niches are created to compensate for corporate stupidity…will they never learn ?

  6. Stephen L. McKay

    Fred,Glad you and fam. had a GREAT trip!Sounds like jetlag to me. It will disapate over the next few hours (you sure wrote a lot since landing!). If your like me, the internal clock will chime, you will hit the sack, and you will be at the office by nine.Great appreciation for your take on Josh’s view. He sounds like me at his age (curious, but also outspoken). Without the two, we don’t learn.All the best, and Welcome Home!Steve

  7. markslater

    i received the season 4 of shameless this holiday and got unsupported region blue screen of death nonsense. I jumped on ebay and picked up an all region player for $70 bux. absurd.I reccomend shameless BTW (prolly not for the kids) but if you like dry mancunian humor about a completely derelict family (think darker than royle family) you will love for the year.

  8. dick costolo

    Less funny, more ridiculous.

  9. Aruni S. Gunasegaram

    Love the show Heroes although the first seasons have been better than the last one. I’m hoping for some better shows but given the writer’s strike who knows when that will be. I love sci-fi so I still enjoy watching old Star Trek episodes. Still wondering if/when Battlestar Galactica will come back. We have family in Mexico so we know about the DVD issue. I think it’s meant to deter illegal copying and distribution..

  10. Jay Jamison

    Hi Fred,Enjoy the blog. I lived in Tokyo for 3 years, working for MSFT (now living in Palo Alto and an entrepreneur, which is how I found your blog). While in Japan, we solved this silly problem by having me build a PC with two DVD bays–one set to the US, one set to Japan. Crazy, and I’ll look forward to seeing this get fixed or overrun as time goes on.All my best.Jay

  11. David

    Most DVD players are sold region free in Australia – that is with the region DRM disabled. Australians tend to take a sensible approach to DRM (circumvention).

  12. Ravi

    This is why i prefer VLC player. It ignores region settings.

  13. fewquid

    Fred,I feel your pain. I grew up in the UK and regularly bring DVD’s back to the US. What drives me crazy is that the stuff I buy isn’t even available over here (English comedians mostly). You can download VLC Player for free from — it completely overrides the region settings on your Mac’s hardware so you can watch any DVD without changing the region code of your DVD drive. On the PC, I use DVD RegionFree (…. It tricks media player into playing any region DVDs and works quite well. Sadly, it’s not free.Hope that helps!

  14. henrikjacobsen

    It is because in the US and Japan you use the TV signal code called NTSC, while the rest of the world use the format PAL. If you have one that use the latter you can only use PAL dvd’s vice versa.If you want to stream on the Internet though, and dont want to download alot, just use