4.15. DVD Regions and Video Standards
Hollywood studios want to control the home release of movies in different countries
because of differences in worldwide release schedules. A particular movie may be
released on video in the United States when it is still showing on the big screens
everywhere else. The DVD specifications include mechanism and software to prevent
playback of certain discs in certain assigned geographical areas or regions.
Each player is given a unique number for the region where it is sold and does not
play back discs which are not distributed for the intended region. This means that a
disc purchased in one country may not play on a DVD player purchased in another country.
Regional codes are not an encryption system. Regional information comprises of only
one byte of information on the disc that a DVD player can verify. Most if not all
major Hollywood movie releases play in only one particular region. Region codes are a
permanent part of the disc and will not change or expire after a period of time.
Region codes apply to the DVD-Video format on read-only DVDs. It does not affect the
DVD-Audio, DVD-ROM, or recordable DVD.
There are eight regions (or zones) have been defined and assigned a unique number
comprised of a combination of bits where each bit indicates an enabled region. If a
disc is designed to play in more than one region, more than one of the bits in its
regional code are set.
Region 1 - U.S., Canada, U.S. Territories.
Region 2 - Japan, Europe, South Africa, and Middle East (including Egypt).
Region 3 - Southeast Asia and East Asia (including Hong Kong).
Region 4 - Australia, New Zealand, Pacific Islands, Central America, Mexico,
South America, and the Caribbean.
Region 5 - Eastern Europe (Former Soviet Union), the Indian subcontinent, Africa,
North Korea, and Mongolia.
Region 6 - China.
Region 7 - Undefined.
Region 8 - Special international routes (airplanes, cruise ships, etc.)