Blu-ray regional code to fight piracy

New system differs from one in place for standard DVDs

To keep a lid on piracy, the Blu-ray Disc Assn. has decided to use regional codes for film discs released in the format. The coded discs will debut this fall.

The new code system differs from the one in place for standard DVDs in that Japan, the Americas, and East and Southeast Asia, with the major exception of China, all share the same Region 1. Europe, the Middle East, Africa, New Zealand and Australia are grouped in Region 2, while China, Russia, India and other territories not in the first two groups are lumped into Region 3.

Meanwhile, the rival HD DVD camp led by Toshiba, has not yet decided whether to use regional codes.

New system will be used for pics and games including Sony PlayStation 3.

To thwart the use of all-region players, Blu-ray regional codes will be burned into the optical discs.

The rival HD DVD camp, led by Toshiba, will not use regional codes.

Decision to using a coding system emerged from talks between Advanced Access Content System members who belong to the Blu-ray Disc Assn. Warner Bros. reportedly opposed the system, citing the ineffectiveness of the current coding setup for conventional DVDs, but was outvoted.

Sony also said it will launch two Blu-ray disc recorders on the Japanese market in December. Matsushita, another member of the Blu-ray camp, will launch its recorder in that format Nov. 15 in Japan. Toshiba has had an HD-DVD recorder on the market here since July.

Sony’s BDZ-V9 model, with a 500GB hard disc, will hit the market Dec. 8. Another, the BDZ-V7, with a 250GB hard disc, will arrive on shelves Dec. 16. Sony’s suggested retail prices are ¥300,000 ($2,542) for the BDZ-V9, $2,118 for the BDZ-V7. The initial production run will be 10,000 units a month.

In addition to recording high-definition images from television in either the high-def or standard format, the recorders will be able to dub images recorded in the the HD Handycam (HDV1080i) format. They also can play non-Blu-ray discs, including conventional DVDs and CDs and discs recorded in the AVCHD format.

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