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DVD Regions


DVD region codes are a DRM technique designed to allow motion picture studios to control aspects of a release, including content, release date, and price, according to the region. DVD video discs may be encoded with a region code restricting the area of the world in which they can be played.

The commercial DVD player specification requires that a player to be sold in a given place not play discs encoded for a different region; and compliant players abide by this rule. There are six different official regions and two informal variations. DVD discs may use one code, a combination of codes (Multi-Region), most codes (Region 0) or every code/no codes (Region All) In addition, many DVD players can be modified to be region-free, allowing playback of all discs.

Region codes and countries

Region code Area
0 Region 0" /> Informal term meaning "worldwide". Region 0 is not an official setting; discs that bear the region 0 symbol either have no flag set or have region 1–6 flags set.
1 Region 1" /> Canadamarker, United Statesmarker; U.S. territories; Bermudamarker
2 Region 2" /> Europe (except Russiamarker, Ukrainemarker and Belarusmarker); Western Asia; Egyptmarker; Japanmarker, South Africa, Swazilandmarker, Lesothomarker; French overseas territories; Greenlandmarker
3 Region 3" /> Southeast Asia; South Koreamarker; Taiwanmarker; Hong Kongmarker; Macaumarker
4 Region 4" /> Mexicomarker; Central and South America; Caribbeanmarker; Australia; New Zealandmarker; Oceania
5 Region 5" /> Ukrainemarker; Belarusmarker; Russiamarker; Africa (except Egyptmarker, South Africa, Swazilandmarker, Lesothomarker and French overseas territories); Central and South Asia; Mongoliamarker; North Koreamarker
6 Region 6" /> People's Republic of Chinamarker; Hong Kongmarker
7 Region 7" /> Reserved for future use (found in use on protected screener copies of MPAA-related DVDs and "media copies" of pre-releases in Asia)
8 Region 8" /> International venues such as aircraft, cruise ships, etc.
ALL Region ALL" /> Region ALL discs have all 8 flags set, allowing the disc to be played in any locale on any player.


DVDs sold in the Baltic States use both region 2 and 5 codes. DVDs sold in Japan use the region 2 code, while Macau and Taiwan use the region 3 code. Hong Kong has historically used Region 3 and has added region 6 since the reunification, now using both.
Region 0 (playable in all regions, except 7/8) is widely used by China, and the Philippines.

DVDs in Latin America with the Spanish use both the region 1 and region 4 codes.

Most DVDs in India combine the region 2, region 4, and region 5 codes; Indian Disney discs contain only the region 3 code.


European region 2 DVDs may be sub-coded "D1" to "D4". "D1" are United Kingdommarker–only releases; "D2" and "D3" are not sold in the UK and Irelandmarker; "D4" are distributed throughout Europe.

Any combination of regions can be applied to a single disc. For example, a DVD designated Region 2/4 is suitable for playback in Western Europe, 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 1–6, 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. This system is known as "Regional Coding Enhancement". In turn, Region Free players have all 8 flags set, similar to Region ALL DVDs. Many also include RCE breaks, to skip repeating menus or bypass static images.

Region Code Enhanced

Also known as just "RCE" or "REA", this 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 map, which was impossible to escape from, as the user controls were disabled.

However, it is easy to work around the scheme. 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 thus be defeated by briefly playing a "normal" region 1 disc, and then inserting the RCE protected region 1 disc, which would now play. RCE caused a few problems with genuine region 1 players.

, many "multi-region" DVD players defeat regional lockout and RCE by automatically identifying and matching a disc's region code and/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. Programs such as DVD Shrink are also capable of removing RCE protection, provided the operator knows what the region of the disc actually is. If the region is specified correctly, the copy will play in any region.


Purpose

There are many purposes that region coding can achieve, but the primary one is price discrimination, i.e., allowing the manufacturer to demand a higher or lower price depending on what the market will allow. There is great disparity among the regions of the world in how much a person is willing to pay for a DVD, Price discrimination is especially applicable to DVDs, as the marginal cost of selling one DVD is relatively small, allowing the seller a great deal of flexibility in pricing.

Another purpose is controlling release dates. One of the traditions of movie marketing that the advent of home video threatened is the practice of releasing a movie (to theaters) later in some countries than in others. Video tapes were essentially regional anyway, since video tape formats had to match those of the encoding system used by television stations in that particular region, such as NTSC and PAL. In theory at least, a DVD can be played anywhere, and without region coding, movie studios wouldn't be able to control the release dates of their DVDs so easily.

Legal concerns

Region code enforcement has been discussed as a possible violation of World Trade Organization free trade agreements or competition law. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has warned that DVD players that enforce region coding may violate their Trade Practices Act. Under New Zealandmarker copyright law DVD region codes and the mechanisms in DVD players to enforce them have no legal protection.

Movie publishers misused region coding when they released older material with full region coding—there being no requirement, per the stated cinema-blockout justification provided, to restrict sales to certain countries. There are concerns, voiced by the European Union, that region coding was solely an attempt to enforce price differentials.

Implementations of region codes

Standalone DVD players

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.

Computer DVD drives

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. However, this usually voids the warranty.

In some computer drives, users are allowed to change the region code (i.e. change region code) up to five times. However, 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-part software tools, or by reflashing (see above) to RPC-1 firmware

Software DVD players

Most freeware and open source DVD players, such as VLC, ignore region coding. 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.

DVD Discs

One can circumvent the region coding of a DVD disc by burning a copy that adds flags for all region codes, creating an all-region DVD. DVD backup software can do this, and can usually remove Macrovision, CSS, and disabled user operations (UOPs) as well.

In common region-locked DVDs (not in RCE-DVDs), the region code is stored in the file "VIDEO_TS.IFO" (table "VMGM_MAT"), byte offset 35 decimal (23 hex).

A "really" region-free (for "pseudo-region-free," see below) or an RCE-protected DVD has the value 0 / 00.

Here are the values of the Regions (decimal / hexadecimal):

"Pseudo-region-free" (Regions 1-6 are supported, but Region 7 and / or Region 8 are not):

R1-R6: 192 / C0,R1-R7: 128 / 80, andR1-R6+R8: 64 / 40,

Regions:

R1: 254 / FE,R2: 253 / FD,R3: 251 / FB,R4: 247 / F7,R5: 239 / EF,R6: 223 / DF,R7: 191 / BF, andR8: 127 / 7F

DVDs made for more than one Region have other values, e.g. a DVD for Regions 1 and 4 has 246 / F6, one for Regions 2 and 4 has 245 / F5, one for Regions 2 and 5 has 237 / ED.

The RCE protection can be hidden in all .IFO files.It is in one or several PGC's as PRE-command.

Blu-ray Disc Region Codes

Main Article-Blu-ray Region codes

The Blu-ray Disc region codes are very similar to the DVD region codes.

See also



References

  1. Regional Coding Enhancement FAQ from DVD Talk
  2. RCE/REA Info
  3. Regional Code Enhancement
  4. Openlaw DVD FAQ
  5. " Restricting DVD's illegal: ACCC" The Australian IT. March 27, 2001. Retrieved May 11, 2006.
  6. " Consumers in dark about DVD imports: ACCC".
  7. " Difficulties between the pro-competitive community and Intellectual Property" (note: open one of the attachments and search for "RPC" to find the relevant section).
  8. Copyright Act 1994 No 143 (as at 01 December 2008) section 226 part b.
  9. Keeping Downward Pressure on Consumer Prices - EU Press Release
  10. Doom9 on RPC1.


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