Locked OutRegional Restrictions in Digital Entertainment Culture

Locked OutRegional Restrictions in Digital Entertainment Culture

Evan Elkins

Print publication date: 2020

ISBN: 9781479830572

Publisher: NYU Press


“This content is not available in your country.” Media consumers around the world regularly run into this reminder of geography’s imprint on digital culture. Despite utopian hopes of a borderless digital society in an era of globalization, DVDs, video games, and streaming platforms include digital rights management mechanisms like region codes and IP address detection systems that block media access within certain territories. Although propped up by national and transnational intellectual property regulation, these technologies of “regional lockout” are designed primarily to keep the entertainment industries’ global markets distinct. Beyond this, they frustrate consumers around the world and place certain territories on a hierarchy of global media access. Drawing on extensive research of media-industry strategies, consumer and retailer practices, and media regulation, Locked Out explores regional lockout in DVDs, console video games, and streaming video and music platforms. The book argues that regional lockout has shaped global media culture over the past few decades in three interrelated ways: as technological regulation, media distribution, and geocultural discrimination. As a form of digital rights management, regional lockout builds in limitations on the affordances of digital software and hardware. As distribution, it seeks to ensure that digital technologies accommodate media industries’ traditional segmentation of markets. Finally, as a cultural system, regional lockout shapes and reflects long-standing global hierarchies of power and discrimination.