Apparently some DVD rental outlets in the US are starting to distribute DVD’s specially made by the movie companies to lack the “extra features” of the standard DVD’s you can buy in the shops – things like the “making of” short, directors voice over, subtitles, etc..
In an apparent effort to give customers a reason to buy DVDs instead of renting them, movie studios have begun disabling certain features of new releases on discs rented out by Blockbuster and Netflix.
The subtitle issue is an interesting one for accessibility by people with hearing issues, as Media Access Australia notes:
It appears that deaf consumers in the US may have become the victims of a move by some DVD rental outlets there to block the special features section of a DVD. This is to encourage people to buy the DVD instead to receive the full viewing experience.
Some of the commenters on the original blog post have wondered whether or not this contravenes the US’s “American’s with Disabilities Act” (ADA), but having a look at the summary on the ADA website doesn’t seem to support that. Even so, cutting off a segment of your market by excluding them from DVD rentals doesn’t seem a particularly smart move for the movie companies. Let’s hope this doesn’t get to Australia anytime soon.