The DVD Specification includes a requirement that DVD players be regionalized by building a number that is a code for a geographic area (see the table below) into them. One of the same numbers can optionally be embedded in each DVD. The region code of a disc is indicated on the packaging in text or by a small globe symbol with a number. Ideally, copies intended for a particular geographic area will only play in players built for that area.
The purpose of this code lies in the economics of the system of motion picture distribution that existed when DVDs were introduced. Movies are rarely, if ever, released simultaneously worldwide. Theatrical prints of motion pictures are very expensive, so it makes sense to prolong their life by reusing them in a fresh area. Experience in the first area may give insights into how (or how not to) market the film in another, spreading the risk. Typically an American film first appears in the United States, and does not not open in Europe (say) until 12 months later. When the film is released in the U. S., it is exposed to piracy, and DVD copies may well be on sale in Europe (not to mention China) before the theatrical release there, spoiling the market.
Like all technical schemes for protecting intellectual property rights, users soon found ways to circumvent the region code. Players that will play any commercial DVD are readily available on the internet; some set to region 0, and others can be switched between regions.
Movie studios responded by introducing Regional Coding Enhancement, which is added to region 1 discs to prevent the disc's playing on region 0 players.
|0||DVD's coded with this number will play anywhere.|
|1||United States and its territories; Canada; Bermuda.|
|2||Greenland, Iceland, Europe as far east as (and including) Poland and Romania and extending through Turkey; the Middle East as far east as Iran, including the entire Arabian peninsula; South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, Z; Japan.|
|3||Southeast Asia and East Asia, including Hong Kong, Thailand, Vietnam, South Korea, Borneo, Indonesia.|
|4||Mexico, Central and South America; the Caribbean; Australia, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand.|
|5||Nations of the former Soviet Union, west through Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus and the Ukraine; Africa except for Egypt and the Republic of South Africa; Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal; North Korea; Mongolia.|
|6||Peoples Republic of China.|
|7||Not yet assigned.|
|8||Airlines, cruise ships, other international venues.|
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Last revised: 1 August 2002.