What are regions?
DVD regions are codes for specifications that require a DVD player
to be "hard-coded" to accept the disc's particular region.
For example a region 1 disc cannot play in a region 3 DVD player.
What regions apply
to which area?
There are eight designated regions in total, six of which are dedicated for
Region 1 - United States and Canada
Region 2 - Japan, Europe, Middle East and South Africa
Region 3 - Hong Kong, Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Borneo and Indonesia
Region 4 - Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, South America and the
Region 5 - Russia, North Korea, India, Africa, Mongolia and former
Region 6 - China
Region 7 - For private use
Region 8 - For commercial use
In addition to these, there is also an undefined "region 9" as well. This was planned for future use, but some players use it as a way to get around region locks.
What is region 0?
Region 0, or region free as they are sometimes called, are DVDs
with no region. They are meant to play on all DVD players. These
discs are sometimes illegal, coming from firms who have not licensed
the material, however that is not always the case.
What is the purpose of different
Most films are released theatrically in the United States first.
Around three to six months later, those same movies are released
in Japan, Europe and other nations It is then around five through
ten months after the initial release that the film will come out
on DVD in the States. Unfortunately, this DVD release conflicts
with the theatrical showing of the film in other nations of the
world. So, in order to stop people from importing the movie, instead
of seeing it in the theaters, different regions were created. Furthermore,
regions also allow companies to charge different prices for the
discs depending on location, usually commanding a premium in the
US and Japan while the products will sell for much less in most
Is there a way around different
There are several companies that sell region free, sometimes called
code free, DVD players.
There was once a time that the Motion Picture Association
of American (MPAA) created a technology called Regional
Coding Enhancement (RCE) in response to this. It was included on most
region 1 titles. This technology allows the DVD to check the region
of your player and if it detects a setting of 0 (region free) it
will not play correctly. Newer region free players, though, change their setting
depending on what region the disc is, instead of using 0, so this
should only be a problem on older hardware units. Because this technology wrongly locked out legitamte region 1 players, though, it was abandoned. Here is a list of all the known RCE titles, none of which are Toho related.
If you have a DVD-R drive on your computer than you can use a DVD
decoder, which will allow the drive to work much in the same way
that modern region free players do.
It should be noted that all DVD players sold in Australia and New
Zealand are set to region 0, after their courts deemed that region
encoding was in violation of the Trade Practices Act.