Blu-ray Region Codes Explained

By · Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Blu-ray & DVD Region Codes ExplainedDVD and Blu-ray discs make it very easy to play, store, and transport movies. Unfortunately, this convenience also makes optical discs a popular format for movie piracy. In an attempt to prevent movies from being illegally distributed, a system of digital rights management, or region codes, was built into the DVD and Blu-ray disc formats by their creators.

The region code system requires the cooperation of hardware manufacturers worldwide as well as the cooperation of movie studios and disc production facilities. The original system for replicated DVD discs divided the world into 6 geographically-oriented groups of countries. Discs produced in one region would not work on hardware in a different region, and players would not be able to read discs from more than one region.

The reasons behind the region code system are primarily economic. Movie studios needed to be able to control the release of films at different times in different markets throughout the world. A movie might be released to video in North America at a time when it is not even in theaters in another country elsewhere in the world. Region coded-DVDs help keep movies from being shipped to another country and sold at a discount rate – or at a vastly inflated price.

Blu-ray discs also have a system of region codes, although it is much simpler than the system used for DVDs. All replicated Blu-ray discs contain a code for Region 1, 2, or 3 that determines which hardware it is compatible with. The corresponding hardware such as a Blu-ray player, computer disc drive, or video game console, will identify the disc as valid or invalid for its correct region.

One interesting thing about region codes is that they only apply to manufactured discs – those which are stamped or pressed in a factory. Duplicated DVD and Blu-ray discs are essentially “region-free,” which means they are able to be played on any machine worldwide.

This is good news for home users who transfer their own home movies to DVD and Blu-ray discs for safe keeping. Their DVD-R and BD-R discs will play back on set-top players, computers, and video game systems in every country.

Unfortunately, region codes also have some drawbacks as well. Frequent travelers, students trying to learn a new language, people who enjoy movies from their native country, and foreign film fans must all live with or work around region coded movies. Thankfully, the new system in place for Blu-ray discs is much more forgiving.

I hope this explanation of DVD region codes and Blu-ray region codes has been useful to you!

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