Parts of this article (those related to criticism and legal concerns) need to be updated.(December 2021)
This article needs additional citations for verification .(November 2011)
DVD region codes are a digital rights management technique introduced in 1997.It is designed to allow rights holders to control the international distribution of a DVD release, including its content, release date, and price, all according to the appropriate region.
This is achieved by way of region-locked DVD players, which will play back only DVDs encoded to their region (plus those without any region code). The American DVD Copy Control Association also requires that DVD player manufacturers incorporate the regional-playback control (RPC) system. However, region-free DVD players, which ignore region coding, are also commercially available,and many DVD players can be modified to be region-free, allowing playback of all discs.
DVDs may use one code, multiple codes (multi-region), or all codes (region free).
|0 / ALL||Worldwide. These discs have all region-1-through-8 flags set, allowing the discs to be played in all regions.|
|1||The United States (incl. Puerto Rico), Canada, and Bermuda|
|2||Europe (except Belarus, Russia, Ukraine and CIS), Greenland, British Overseas Territories, Overseas France, Turkey, Middle East, Egypt, Tunisia, Eswatini, Lesotho, South Africa, and Japan|
|3||Southeast Asia, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau|
|4||Latin America (except French Guiana and Puerto Rico), Caribbean (except French West Indies), and Oceania (except French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Wallis and Futuna, and Hawaii)|
|5||Africa (except Egypt, Lesotho, Eswatini, South Africa, Mayotte and Réunion), Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Central Asia, South Asia, Mongolia, and North Korea|
|7||MPAA-related DVDs and "media copies" of pre-releases in Asia|
|8||International venues such as aircraft, cruise ships, and spacecraft|
Any combination of regions can be applied to a single disc. For example, a DVD designated Region 2/4 is suitable for playback in Europe, Latin America, Oceania, and any other Region 2 or Region 4 area. So-called "Region 0" and "ALL" discs are meant to be playable worldwide. The term "Region 0" also describes the DVD players designed or modified to incorporate Regions 1–8, thereby providing compatibility with most discs, regardless of region. This apparent solution was popular in the early days of the DVD format, but studios quickly responded by adjusting discs to refuse to play in such machines by implementing a system known as "Regional Coding Enhancement" (RCE).
DVDs sold in the Baltic states use both region 2 and 5 codes, having previously been in region 5 (because of their history as part of the USSR), but EU single market law concerning the free movement of goods caused a switch to region 2. European region 2 DVDs may be sub-coded "D1" to "D4". "D1" are the UK only releases; "D2" and "D3" are not sold in the UK and Ireland; "D4" are distributed throughout Europe. Overseas territories of the United Kingdom and France (both in region 2) often have other regions (4 or 5, depending on geographical situation) than their homelands.
Most DVDs sold in Mexico and the rest of Latin America carry both region 1 and 4 codes. Some are region 1 only after 2006 to coincide with Blu-Ray region A.
Egypt, Eswatini, Lesotho, and South Africa are in DVD region 2, while all other African countries are in region 5, but all African countries are in the same Blu-ray region code (region B).
North Korea and South Korea have different DVD region codes (North Korea: region 5, South Korea: region 3), but use the same Blu-ray region code (region A). In China, two DVD region codes are used: Mainland China uses region 6, but Hong Kong and Macau use region 3. There are also two Blu-ray regions used: China uses region C, while Hong Kong and Macau use region A. Most DVDs in India combine the region 2, region 4, and region 5 codes, or are region 0.
Region-code enhanced, also known as just "RCE" or "REA",was a retroactive attempt to prevent the playing of one region's discs in another region, even if the disc was played in a region-free player. The scheme was deployed on only a handful of discs. The disc contained the main program material region coded as region 1. But it also contained a short video loop of a map of the world showing the regions, which was coded as region 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. The intention was that when the disc was played in a non-region 1 player, the player would default to playing the material for its native region. This played the aforementioned video loop of a map, which was impossible to escape from, as the user controls were disabled.
The scheme was fundamentally flawed, as a region-free player tries to play a disc using the last region that worked with the previously inserted disc. If it cannot play the disc, then it tries another region until one is found that works. RCE could be defeated by briefly playing a "normal" region 1 disc, and then inserting the RCE protected region 1 disc, which would now play. RCE also caused a few problems with genuine region 1 players.
Many "multi-region" DVD players defeated regional lockout and RCE by automatically identifying and matching a disc's region code or allowing the user to manually select a particular region.Some manufacturers of DVD players now freely supply information on how to disable regional lockout, and on some recent models, it appears to be disabled by default. Computer programs such as DVD Shrink can make copies of region-coded DVDs without RCE restriction.
One purpose of region coding is controlling release dates. One practice of movie marketing which was threatened by the advent of digital home video was the tradition of releasing a movie to cinemas and then for general rental or sale later in some countries than in others. This practice was historically common because before the advent of digital cinema, releasing a movie at the same time worldwide used to be prohibitively expensive. Most importantly, manufacturing a release print of a film for public exhibition in a cinema has always been expensive, but a large number of release prints are needed only for a narrow window of time during the first few weeks after a film's release. Spreading out release dates allows for reuse of some release prints in other regions. For example, the film 28 Days Later was available on DVD in the United Kingdom before it was released in theaters in the United States.
Videotapes were inherently regional since formats had to match those of the encoding system used by television stations in that particular region, such as NTSC and PAL, although from the early 1990s PAL machines increasingly offered NTSC playback. DVDs are less restricted in that sense. Region coding allows movie studios to better control the global release dates of DVDs.
Also, the copyright in a title may be held by different entities in different territories. Region coding enables copyright holders to (attempt to) prevent a DVD from a region from which they do not derive royalties from being played on a DVD player inside their region. Region coding attempts to dissuade importing of DVDs from one region into another.
DVDs are also formatted for use on two conflicting regional television systems: 480i/60 Hz and 576i/50 Hz, which in analog contexts are often referred to as 525/60 (NTSC) and 625/50 (PAL/SECAM) respectively. Strictly speaking, PAL and SECAM are analog color television signal formats which have no relevance in the digital domain (as evident in the conflation of PAL and SECAM, which are actually two distinct analog color systems). However, the DVD system was originally designed to encode the information necessary to reproduce signals in these formats, and the terms continue to be used (incorrectly) as a method of identifying refresh rates and vertical resolution. However, an "NTSC", "PAL" or "SECAM" DVD player that has one or more analog composite video output (baseband or modulated) will only produce NTSC, PAL or SECAM signals, respectively, from those outputs, and may only play DVDs identified with the corresponding format.
NTSC is the analog TV format historically associated with the United States, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Philippines, Taiwan, and other countries. PAL is the analog color TV format historically associated with most of Europe, most of Africa, China, India, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, North Korea, and other countries (Brazil adopted the variant PAL-M, which uses the refresh rate and resolution commonly associated with NTSC). SECAM, a format associated with French-speaking Europe, while using the same resolution and refresh rate as PAL, is a distinct format which uses a very different system of color encoding. Some DVD players can only play discs identified as NTSC, PAL or SECAM, while others can play multiple standards.
In general, it is easier for consumers in PAL/SECAM countries to view NTSC DVDs than vice versa. Almost all DVD players sold in PAL/SECAM countries are capable of playing both kinds of discs, and most modern PAL TVs can handle the converted signal. NTSC discs may be output from a PAL DVD player in three different ways:
However, most NTSC players cannot play PAL discs, and most NTSC TVs do not accept 576i video signals as used on PAL/SECAM DVDs. Those in NTSC countries, such as the United States, generally require both a region-free, multi-standard player and a multi-standard television to view PAL discs, or a converter box, whereas those in PAL countries generally require only a region-free player to view NTSC discs (with the possible exception of Japanese discs in most European countries, since they are in the same region - this means European region 2 users could import Japanese discs and play them on their players without any obstacles.) There are also differences in pixel aspect ratio (720 × 480 vs. 720 × 576 with the same image aspect ratio) and display frame rate (29.97 vs. 25).
Most computer-based DVD software and hardware can play both NTSC and PAL video and both audio standards.Blu-ray players, which use up to 1080p signals, are backwards compatible with both NTSC and PAL DVDs.
Usually a configuration flag is set in each player's firmware at the factory. This flag holds the region number that the machine is allowed to play. Region-free players are DVD players shipped without the ability to enforce regional lockout (usually by means of a chip that ignores any region coding), or without this flag set.
However, if the player is not region-free, it can often be unlocked with an unlock code entered via the remote control. This code simply allows the user to change the factory-set configuration flag to another region, or to the special region "0". Once unlocked this way, the DVD player allows the owner to watch DVDs from any region. Many websites exist on the Internet offering these codes, often known informally as hacks . Many websites provide instructions for different models of standalone DVD players, to hack, and their factory codes.
Older DVD drives use RPC-1 (Regional Playback Control) firmware, which means the drive allows DVDs from any region to play. Newer drives use RPC-2 firmware, which enforces the DVD region coding at the hardware level. These drives can often be reflashed or hacked with RPC-1 firmware, effectively making the drive region-free. This may void the drive warranty.
Some drives may come set as region-free, so the user is expected to assign their region when they buy it. In this case, some DVD programs may prompt the user to select a region, while others may actually assign the region automatically based on the locale set in the operating system.
In most computer drives, users are allowed to change the region code up to five times.If the number of allowances reaches zero, the region last used will be permanent even if the drive is transferred to another computer. This limit is built into the drive's controller software, called firmware. Resetting the firmware count can be done with first- or third-party software tools, or by reflashing (see above) to RPC-1 firmware.
Since some software does not work correctly with RPC-1 drives, there is also the option of reflashing the drive with a so-called auto-reset firmware. This firmware appears as RPC-2 firmware to software, but will reset the region changes counter whenever power is cycled, reverting to the state of a drive that has never had its region code changed.
Most freeware and open source DVD players ignore region coding. VLC, for example, does not attempt to enforce region coding; however, it requires access to the DVD's raw data to overcome CSS encryption, and such access may not be available on some drives with RPC-2 firmware when playing a disc from a different region than the region to which the drive is locked.Most commercial players are locked to a region code, but can be easily changed with software.
Other software, known as DVD region killers, transparently remove (or hide) the DVD region code from the software player. Some can also work around locked RPC-2 firmware.
The region coding of a DVD can be circumvented by making a copy that adds flags for all region codes, creating an all-region DVD. DVD backup software can do this, and some can also remove Macrovision, CSS, and disabled user operations (UOps).
In common region-locked DVDs (but not in RCE-DVDs), the region code is stored in the file "VIDEO_TS.IFO" (table "VMGM_MAT"), byte offsets 34 and 35.The eight regions each correspond to a value which is a power of 2: Region 1 corresponds to 1 (20), Region 2 to 2 (21), Region 3 to 4 (22), and so on through Region 8, which corresponds to 128 (27). The values of each region that the disc is not encoded for are added together to give the value in the file. For example, a disc that is encoded for Region 1 but not Regions 2–8 will have the value 2+4+8+16+32+64+128=254. A disc encoded for Regions 1, 2 and 4 will have the value 4+16+32+64+128=244. A region-free or RCE-protected DVD will carry the value zero, since no regions are excluded.
The Xbox, Xbox 360, PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3 consoles are all region-locked for DVD playback. The PlayStation 2can be modified to have its regional-locking disabled through the use of modchips. Although region locked on film DVDs and film Blu-ray Discs, the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X are region free for video games, though add-on content on the online store is region locked and must match the region of the disc.
Blu-ray Discs use a much simpler region-code system than DVD with only three regions, labeled A, B and C. As with DVDs, many Blu-rays are encoded region 0 (region free), making them suitable for players worldwide.
|A/1||The Americas and their dependencies, Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, Macau, Korea, and Southeast Asia|
|B/2||Africa, Middle East, most of Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and their dependencies|
|C/3||Central Asia, Mainland China, Mongolia, South Asia, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, and their dependencies|
|ABC/FREE||Worldwide. Region free is not an official setting; discs that bear the region FREE symbol either have no flags set or have all three flags set.|
Blu-ray regions are verified only by the player software, not by the computer system or the drive, not like DVD regions. The region code is stored in a file or the registry, and there are hacks to reset the region counter of the player software. In standalone players, the region code is part of the firmware. Some Blu-Rays are region-free.
For bypassing region codes, there are software and multi-regional players available.
A new form of Blu-ray region coding tests not only the region of the player/player software, but also its country code. This means, for example, while both the US and Japan are Region A, some American discs are not going to be played on devices/software installed in Japan or vice versa, due to the two countries having different country codes (the United States has 21843 or Hex 5553 ("US" in ASCII, according to ISO 3166-1), and Japan has 19024, or Hex 4a50 ("JP"); Canada has 17217 or Hex 4341 ("CA"). Although there are only three Blu-ray regions, the country code allows much more precise control of the regional distribution of Blu-ray discs than the six (or eight) DVD regions. In Blu-ray discs, there are not any "special regions" like the regions 7 and 8 in DVDs.
For the UMD, a disc type used for the PlayStation Portable, UMD movies have region codes similar to DVDs, although many PSP games are region-free.
This section needs to be updated.(December 2021)
Region coding has been criticized for facilitating unlawful market control strategies, such as price fixing. Sale of region-coded DVDs is illegal in New Zealand.
The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) have warned that DVD players that enforce region-coding may violate the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.A December 2000 report from the ACCC advised consumers to "exercise caution when purchasing a DVD video player because of the restrictions that limit their ability to play imported DVDs." The report stated, "These restrictions are artificially imposed by a group of multinational film entertainment companies and are not caused by the existing differences in television display formats such as PAL, NTSC and SECAM [...] The ACCC is currently investigating whether Australian consumers are paying higher prices for DVDs because of the ability of copyright owners, such as film companies, to prevent competition by restricting imports from countries where the same (authorised) video titles are sold more cheaply." In 2012, a report from The Sydney Morning Herald revealed that region-free DVD players were legal in Australia, as they were exempt from the Technological Protection Measures (TPMs) included in the US Free Trade Agreement. Under New Zealand copyright law, DVD region codes and the mechanisms in DVD players to enforce them have no legal protection.
The practice was also criticized by the European Commissionwhich as of 14 March 2001 were investigating whether the resulting price discrimination amounts to a violation of European competition law.
The Washington Post highlighted how DVD region-coding was a major inconvenience for travelers who have the desire to legally purchase DVDs worldwide and return with them to their countries of origin, students of foreign languages, immigrants who want to watch films where they are from and foreign film fans.Another criticism is that region-coding allows for local censorship, such as the Region 1 DVD of the 1999 drama film Eyes Wide Shut which contains the digital manipulations needed for the film to secure an MPAA R-rating, while these manipulations are not evident in discs that are not in region 1.
The first American standard for analog television broadcast was developed by the National Television System Committee (NTSC) in 1941. In 1961, it was assigned the designation System M. It is also known as EIA standard.
Phase Alternating Line (PAL) is a colour encoding system for analogue television. It was one of three major analogue colour television standards, the others being NTSC and SECAM. In most countries it was broadcast at 625 lines, 50 fields per second, and associated with CCIR analogue broadcast television systems B, D, G, H, I or K. The articles on analog broadcast television systems further describe frame rates, image resolution, and audio modulation.
Video is an electronic medium for the recording, copying, playback, broadcasting, and display of moving visual media. Video was first developed for mechanical television systems, which were quickly replaced by cathode-ray tube (CRT) systems which, in turn, were replaced by flat panel displays of several types.
Video CD is a home video format and the first format for distributing films on standard 120 mm (4.7 in) optical discs. The format was widely adopted in Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia, Central Asia and the West Asia, superseding the VHS and Betamax systems in the regions until DVD-Video finally became affordable in the first decade of the 21st century.
A DVD player is a device that plays DVDs produced under both the DVD-Video and DVD-Audio technical standards, two different and incompatible standards. Some DVD players will also play audio CDs. DVD players are connected to a television to watch the DVD content, which could be a movie, a recorded TV show, or other content.
The DVD Copy Control Association is an organization primarily responsible for the copy protection of DVDs. The Content Scramble System (CSS) was devised for this purpose to make copyright infringement difficult, but also presents obstacles to some legitimate uses of the media. The association is also responsible for the controversial Regional Playback Control (RPC), the region encoding scheme which gives movie studios geographic control over DVD distribution.
The LaserDisc (LD) is a home video format and the first commercial optical disc storage medium, initially licensed, sold and marketed as MCA DiscoVision in the United States in 1978. Its diameter typically spans 30 cm (12 in). Unlike most optical-disc standards, LaserDisc is not fully digital, and instead requires the use of analog video signals.
A regional lockout is a class of digital rights management preventing the use of a certain product or service, such as multimedia or a hardware device, outside a certain region or territory. A regional lockout may be enforced through physical means, through technological means such as detecting the user's IP address or using an identifying code, or through unintentional means introduced by devices only supporting certain regional technologies.
Enhanced-definition television, or extended-definition television (EDTV) is a Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) marketing shorthand term for certain digital television (DTV) formats and devices. Specifically, this term defines an extension of the standard-definition television (SDTV) format that enables a clearer picture during high-motion scenes compared to previous iterations of SDTV, but not producing images as detailed as high-definition television (HDTV).
The PAL region is a television publication territory that covers most of Europe and Africa, alongside parts of Asia, South America and Oceania. It is named PAL because of the PAL television standard traditionally used in some of those regions, as opposed to the NTSC standard traditionally used in Japan and most of North America.
576i is a standard-definition digital video mode, originally used for digitizing analogue television in most countries of the world where the utility frequency for electric power distribution is 50 Hz. Because of its close association with the legacy colour encoding systems, it is often referred to as PAL, PAL/SECAM or SECAM when compared to its 60 Hz NTSC-colour-encoded counterpart, 480i.
Import gamers are a subset of the video game player community that take part in the practice of playing video games from another region, usually from Japan where the majority of games for certain systems originate.
Various accessories for the PlayStation 3 video game console have been produced by Sony and third-party companies. These include controllers, audio and video input devices like microphones, video cameras, and cables for better sound and picture quality.
This article compares the technical specifications of multiple high-definition formats, including HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc; two mutually incompatible, high-definition optical disc formats that, beginning in 2006, attempted to improve upon and eventually replace the DVD standard. The two formats remained in a format war until February 19, 2008, when Toshiba, HD DVD's creator, announced plans to cease development, manufacturing and marketing of HD DVD players and recorders.
Blu-ray is a digital optical disc data storage format designed to supersede the DVD format. It was invented and developed in 2005 and released worldwide on June 20, 2006, capable of storing several hours of high-definition video. The main application of Blu-ray is as a medium for video material such as feature films and for the physical distribution of video games for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X. The name refers to the blue laser used to read the disc, which allows information to be stored at a greater density than is possible with the longer-wavelength red laser used for DVDs.
The PlayStation Portable system software is the official firmware for the PlayStation Portable (PSP). It uses the XrossMediaBar (XMB) as its user interface, similar to the PlayStation 3 console.
The PlayStation 3 technical specifications describe the various components of the PlayStation 3 (PS3) video game console.
The Content Scramble System (CSS) is a digital rights management (DRM) and encryption system employed on many commercially produced DVD-Video discs. CSS utilizes a proprietary 40-bit stream cipher algorithm. The system was introduced around 1996 and was first compromised in 1999.
DVD-Video is a consumer video format used to store digital video on DVD discs. DVD-Video was the dominant consumer home video format in Asia, North America, Europe, and Australia in the 2000s until it was supplanted by the high-definition Blu-ray Disc. Discs using the DVD-Video specification require a DVD drive and an MPEG-2 decoder. Commercial DVD movies are encoded using a combination of MPEG-2 compressed video and audio of varying formats. Typically, the data rate for DVD movies ranges from 3 to 9.5 Mbit/s, and the bit rate is usually adaptive. DVD-Video was first available in Japan on November 1, 1996, followed by a release on March 24, 1997 in the United States—to line up with the 69th Academy Awards that same day.
Super Video CD is a digital format for storing video on standard compact discs. SVCD was intended as a successor to Video CD and an alternative to DVD-Video, and falls somewhere between both in terms of technical capability and picture quality.