Regional codes for DVDs

Motion picture studios want to control the home release of movies in different countries because cinema releases aren’t simultaneous (a movie may come out on video in the U.S. when it’s just hitting screens in Europe). Also, studios sell distribution rights to different foreign distributors and would like to guarantee an exclusive market. Therefore, the studios required that the DVD standard include codes that can be used 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 allowed in that region. This means that discs bought in one country may not play on players bought in another country. Regional codes are entirely optional for the maker of a disc. Discs without codes will play on any player in any country. It’s not an encryption system, it’s just one byte of information on the disc, which recognises eight different DVD worldwide regions, that the player checks: Region Coverage Region 1 USA, 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), Indian subcontinent, Africa, North Korea and Mongolia Region 6 China Region 7 Reserved Region 8 Special international venues (airplanes, cruise ships, etc.) Region-2 coding standards proved more complicated to finalise than was originally expected, due to huge variations in censorship laws and the number of different languages spoken across the...

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