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DVD Manufacturing: All About Region Codes

What are region codes?

DVD region codes are designed by the Digital Rights Management to allow motion picture studios to control aspects of a movie release (content, release date, price) based on the region. DVD discs may use one code, a combination of codes (Multi-Region), most codes (Region 0) or every code/no codes (Region All).

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 region 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
3 Southeast Asia, South Korea, Republic of China (Taiwan), Hong Kong, Macau
4 Mexico, Central America, South America, Australia, New Zealand, Oceania
5 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, Hong Kong
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 8 flags set, allowing the disc to be played in any locale on any player.

[Image from Wikipedia]







How does it work?

A DVD player sold in a particular country will only play back DVDs encoded for that specific region. Yes, there are some multi-region players that can play a DVD from any region, but these are the exception to the rule. Players sold in region X can only play DVDs encoded for region X.

What is it for?

The main purpose of region coding is price discrimination which allows the seller a great deal of flexibility in pricing. The amount people are willing to pay for DVDs vary in different parts of the world. Those from America and UK may not mind paying a few dollars more but a few cents’ increase in price may mean a lot to those from third world countries.  This prevents the guys from China (for example) to import cheaper goods to US (with people who are more capable/willing to spend a few more cents for a DVD).

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.

Basically, it is meant to help control the financial and marketing aspects of film distribution.

Can my DVD have more than one region code?

Yes. 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.

What if I do not want to have region codes?

The region codes are entirely voluntary on the part of the studios releasing the disks, and Blu-ray movie releases need not have any region code, so called region free releases. If a Blu-ray movie is region free, it can be played on all systems regardless of region.


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