Jul 30, 2013

Why do companies region lock software?

A lot of software companies make their software region specific, or “geo-locked” so that a copy of the same software that works in the US may not work in Australia. It seems to me that the main reason for this is to charge different amounts in different markets so that they can maximize profits, but is there a legitimate reason for this? It seems like an archaic practice in an increasingly interconnected world to me.

It is a stupid and vapid practice that needs to end. Pirates will pirate, regardless of what companies do. All this kind of thing does is annoy the average customer who might not be able to access region locked software or content.

The main justification is to prevent software piracy, I suspect. I first became aware of region locking as a kid, when I wanted a video game that wasn’t released in the US. I found an imported copy, was excited to try it, put it in, turned on the system, and......it wouldn’t work. Software piracy is a legitimate concern, but with more robust keys to unlock software, I don’t see region locking as central to piracy mitigation any longer. However, there are other justifications. Many countries apply software rating systems, and they differ significantly. By region locking, publishers can help make sure that they comply with the applicable rating standards. 

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