Region codes on DVD players

Region codes

DVD movies can contain a region code, denoting which area of the world it is targeted at, which is completely independent of encryption. The commercial DVD-video player specification dictates that players must only play discs that contain their region code. This allows the film studios to set different retail prices in different markets and extract the maximum possible price from consumers. With region coding, studios can dictate release schedules and prices around the world. However, many DVD players allow playback of any disc, or can be modified to do so. Region coding pertains to regional lockout, which originated from the video game industry.

Region code

Area
0
Playable in all regions
1
United States, Canada, and U.S. territories
2
Western Europe, Greenland, South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Japan, Egypt, and the Middle East
3
Southeast Asia, South Korea, Hong Kong, Macau, Indonesia, Philippines, Taiwan
4
Australia, New Zealand, Oceania, Mexico, Central America, South America
5
Russia, other former Soviet Union countries, Eastern Europe, Indian subcontinent, Mongolia, North Korea, the rest of Africa
6
People's Republic of China
7
Reserved for future use
8
International venues such as aircraft, cruise ships, etc.

European Region 2 DVDs may be sub-coded D1 through D4. "D1" identifies a UK-only release. "D2" and "D3" identify European DVDs that are not sold in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. "D4" identifies DVDs that are distributed throughout Europe.

Region 0 designates no actual region, but it is used as shorthand for a disc meant to be playable on all players. On such a disc, the actual region coding is R1/2/3/4/5/6. In the early days, region 0 players were created that would allow any region disc to be played in them, but studios responded by adjusting regioned discs to refuse to play if the player was determined 0 (since no player should anyway). This system is known as Regional Coding Enhancement or just RCE.

Many view region code enforcement as a violation of WTO free trade agreements; however, no legal rulings have yet been made in this area. However, many manufacturers of DVD players now freely supply information on how to disable the region code checking, and on some recent models, it appears to be disabled by default.

Advertisement