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Region 1 Imports to Become Illegal?

In a rather worrying turn of events, the French government has just passed a bill that will effectively outlaw most R1 DVD imports from January 1st 2001.

Anyone who has been to France recently will know that R1 DVDs are openly sold in stores such as Virgin and it is this practice that the government will put a stop to. The biggest worry though is the fact that this new bill will also prevent personal importation of R1 titles. The new bill will prevent R1 DVDs being sold to anyone residing in France if the distributor is planning on showing that title in French cinemas.

French consumers buy R1 DVDs for many of the same reasons we do; more extras, earlier release dates and better packaging. However, there is one big problem that the French suffer when buying domestic DVDs: burnt in subtitles. Many French DVDs have subtitles which cannot be removed by the player and, understandably, many are unhappy with this and turn to R1.

As it stands, R1 importation in France is legal if the film is a different version than that shown in the cinemas. A non-dubbed or non-subtitled version of a film is classed as different enough to allow importation, but it is this loophole that is now being closed. From January 1st, consumers will only be allowed to own a film if it opened in cinemas longer than 6 months ago.

A worrying state of affairs indeed and one that could, potentially, spread to the rest of Europe. It's common knowledge that the Hollywood bigwigs are putting pressure on anyone who will listen to clamp down on R1 importation in order to protect their staggered release dates. It now appears that the French government are the first to yield.

If your French is up to it, you can read the bill in full here.

Carl Prescott

Last updated: 19/04/2018 19:36:03

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