Close Window

Digital Versatile Disc (DVD) Regions
& Everything and More you Wanted to Know About them....
 

Motion picture studios want to control the home release of movies in different countries because theater releases aren't simultaneous (a movie may come out on video in the U.S. when it's just hitting screens in Europe). Studios sell distribution rights to different foreign distributors and would like to guarantee an exclusive market. Therefore they required that the DVD standard include codes to prevent playback of certain discs in certain geographical regions. Each player is given a code for the region in which it's sold - the player will refuse to play discs that are not coded for its region. This means that a disc bought in one country may not play on a player bought in another country, some people believe that region codes are an illegal restraint of trade,
but no legal cases have established this.

Regional codes are entirely optional for the maker of a disc. Discs without region locks will play on any player in any country. It's not an encryption system, it's just one byte of information on the disc that the player checks. Some studios originally announced that only their new releases would have regional codes, but so far almost all Hollywood releases play in only one region. Region codes are a permanent part of the disc, they won't "unlock" after a period of time. Region codes don't apply to DVD-Audio, DVD-ROM, or recordable DVD (see below for more detail).

Seven regions (also called locales or zones) have been defined, and each one is assigned a number. Players and discs are often identified by their region number superimposed on a world globe. If a disc plays in more than one region it will have more than one number on the globe.

There are six world Regions for DVD.

Discs manufactured in one region will usually only play on players that were manufactured in the same region, so discs bought in the USA will not play on U.K. players and vice versa.

However, the regional coding system is entirely optional and discs without Regional Codes will play on any player in any country.

Please check the map below to make sure our DVDs will be able to play on your DVD machine. Please check your DVD manual, or with the manufacturer, if in doubt.

Region 01

Canada, U.S., U.S. Territories.

Region 02

Albania, Andorra, Austria, Bahrain, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, European Union, Faroe Islands, Finland, France, France, Georgia, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Greenland, Hungary, Iceland, Iran (Islamic Republic of) Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Latvia, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia (the Former Yugoslav Republic), Malta, Moldova, Principality of Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russian Federation, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Slovenia,South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Kingdom (Channel Islands) Vatican City State, Yemen, Yugoslavia

Region 03

Southeast Asia, East Asia (including Hong Kong)

Region 04

Australia, New Zealand, Pacific Islands, Central America, Mexico, South America, Caribbean

Region 05

Former Soviet Union, Indian Subcontinent, Africa (also North Korea, Mongolia)

Region 06

China

Region 07

Reserved

Region 08

Special international venues (airplanes, cruise ships, etc.)

 

Technically there is no such thing as a region zero disc or a region zero player. There is such thing as an all-region disc. There are also all-region players. Some players can be "hacked" using special command sequences from the remote control to switch regions or play all regions. Some players can be physically modified ("chipped") to play discs regardless of the regional codes on the disc. This usually voids the warranty, but is not illegal in most countries (since the only thing that requires player manufacturers to region-code their players is the CSS license. Many retailers, especially outside North America, sell players that have already been modified for multiple regions, or in some cases they simply provide instructions on how to access
the "secret" region change features already built into the player.

Some discs from Fox, Buena Vista/Touchstone/Miramax, MGM/Universal, Polygram, and Columbia TriStar contain program code that checks for the proper region setting in the player. (There's Something About Mary and Psycho are examples.) In late 2000, Warner Bros. began using the same active region code checking that other studios had been using for over a year. They called it "region code enhancement" (RCE, also known as REA), and it received much publicity. RCE was first added to discs such as The Patriot and Charlie's Angels. "Smart discs" with active region checking won't play on code-free players that are set for all regions (FFh), but they can be played on manual code-switchable players that allow you to use the remote control to change the player's region to match the disc. They may not work on auto-switching players that recognize and match the disc region. (It depends on the default region setting of the player. An RCE disc has all its region flags set so that the player doesn't know which one to switch to. The disc queries the player for the region setting and aborts playback if it's the wrong one. A default player setting of region 1 will fool RCE discs from region 1. Playing a region 1 disc for a few seconds sets most auto-switching players to region 1 and thus enables them to play an RCE disc.) When an RCE disc detects the wrong region or an all-region player, it will usually put up a message saying that the player may have been altered and that the disc is not compatible with the player. A serious side effect is that some legitimate players fail the test,
such as the Fisher DVDS-1000.

Regional codes apply to game consoles such as PlayStation 2 and Xbox, but only for DVD-Video (movie) discs (region modifications can be made to the PS2 memory). PlayStation has a separate regional lockout scheme for games. Regional codes also apply to DVD-ROM computers, but affect only DVD-Video discs, not DVD-ROM discs containing computer software. Computer playback systems check for regional codes before playing movies from a CSS-protected DVD-Video (see 1.11 for CSS info). Newer RPC2 DVD-ROM drives let you change the region code several times. (RPC stands for region protection control.) Once an RPC2 drive has reached the limit of 5 changes it can't be changed again unless the vendor or manufacturer resets the drive. The Drive Info utility can tell you if you have an RPC2 drive (it will say "This drive has region protection").

 Is DVD-Video a worldwide standard? Does it work with NTSC, PAL, and SECAM?

The MPEG video on a DVD is stored in digital format, but it's formatted for one of two mutually incompatible television systems: 525/60 (NTSC) or 625/50 (PAL/SECAM). Therefore, there are two kinds of DVDs: "NTSC DVDs" and "PAL DVDs." Some players only play NTSC discs, others play PAL and NTSC discs. Discs are also coded for different regions of the world (see 1.10).

Almost all DVD players sold in PAL countries play both kinds of discs. These multi-standard players partially convert NTSC to a 60-Hz PAL (4.43 NTSC) signal. The player uses the PAL 4.43-MHz color subcarrier encoding format but keeps the 525/60 NTSC scanning rate. Most modern PAL TVs can handle this "pseudo-PAL" signal. A few multi-standard PAL players output true 3.58 NTSC from NTSC discs, which requires an NTSC TV or a multi-standard TV. Some players have a switch to choose 60-Hz PAL or true NTSC output when playing NTSC discs. There are a few standards-converting PAL players that convert from an NTSC disc to standard PAL output for older PAL TVs. Proper "on the fly" standards conversion requires expensive hardware to handle scaling, temporal conversion, and object motion analysis. Because the quality of conversion in DVD players is poor, using 60-Hz PAL output with a compatible TV provides a better picture than converting from NTSC to PAL.
(Sound is not affected by video conversion.)

There are actually three types of DVD players if you count computers. Most DVD PC software and hardware can play both NTSC and PAL video and both Dolby Digital and MPEG audio. Some PCs can only display the converted video on the computer monitor, but others can output
it as a video signal for a TV.

Bottom line: NTSC discs (with Dolby Digital audio) play on over 95% of DVD systems worldwide. PAL discs play on very few players outside of PAL countries. (This is irrespective of regions).

Close Window