DVD and Blu-ray Regions

With the amount of DVD and Blu-ray releases coming out, it appears that there is much confusion as to how this stuff works. Here, we’ll give a brief summary of what the codes mean and how they work. In the near future, we may be able to begin to compile a list of software players to play both media.

DVD Regions
Everybody knows what a DVD is, the format/disc has been ubiquitous in the home entertainment world since 2003. By the same token, it would be safe to assume that in this day and age that everybody would have a DVD player (be it standalone or in your computer) in the home. There are 6 official and 3 unofficial region codes for DVDs around the world. Regions 1-6 are the official commercial region codes that most people would have encountered, it would also be fair to say (especially with fanmade releases) that you have also encountered the 0 or ALL region code. These can be seen in more detail in the table below.

Releases from South Korea will typically be coded Region 3, whereas releases from Japan will typically be coded Region 2.

DVD players and drives nowadays will have their region encoded in the firmware. So for instance, a DVD player in Australia will only be able to play Region 4 DVDs, and a DVD player in the US will only be able to play Region 1 DVDs. DVD drives in computers allow user to change the coded region on the drive up to 5 times, after which they will be locked to the last region that was set. There exists some software that is able to bypass the region-lock imposed by the DVD drive (at least prior to the updates in how this region coding was enforced on the hardware side). A few manufacturers also produce DVD players that are capable of reading all the regions also bypassing this lock.

Region code Area
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 regions 1–6 flags set.
1 United States, Canada, Bermuda, U.S. territories
2 Europe (except Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus), Middle East, Egypt, Japan, South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, Greenland, French Overseas departments and territories
3 Southeast Asia, South Korea, Republic of China (Taiwan), Hong Kong, Macau
4 Mexico, Central America, Caribbean, South America, Oceania
5 India, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, Africa (except Egypt, South Africa, Swaziland, and Lesotho), Central and South Asia, Mongolia, North Korea
6 People’s Republic of China
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 International venues such as aircraft, cruise ships, etc.
ALL Region ALL discs have all eight flags set, allowing the disc to be played in any locale on any player.

Table adapted from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DVD_region_code

Blu-ray Regions
Whilst a Blu-ray disc is the same size as a DVD and CD, it uses different technology to make, and hence read. You will need a dedicated Blu-ray player in order to watch anything that has been released on Blu-ray, on the bright side, these players are 99% of the time backwards compatibly which means that you can also use them to play any DVDs that you already have or might still get. A prominent Blu-ray player out there is probably Sony’s PlayStation 3.

Blu-ray regions are quite a bit simpler. Fortunately for those in the Americas and South East Asia, all Korean and Japanese region-coded releases will be playable at home. For those elsewhere, current trends have seen studios release films region-free however we have yet to find out if SM intends to follow this trend or impose region-locking on the SoShi Blu-ray releases.

Region code Area
A The Americas (except Greenland), and their dependencies, East Asia (except mainland China and Mongolia), and Southeast Asia).
B Africa, Middle East, Southwest Asia, Europe (except Belarus, Russia and Ukraine), Australia, New Zealand, and their dependencies.
C Central Asia, East Asia (mainland China and Mongolia only), South Asia, Eastern Europe (Belarus, Russia and Ukraine only), and their dependencies.

Table adapted from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blu-ray_Disc#Region_codes

Author: darkrad
Published: July 22, 2011
Last Updated: July 22, 2011

Some Rights Reserved. This work is licensed under
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/

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