Because DVD is subject to the same issues of piracy and market sharing that govern the entire video industry, DVD region encoding was introduced to set geopolitical boundaries for compatibility of DVDs and players. For instance, a DVD encoded for Region 1 can only be played on a Region 1 (U.S. and Canada) DVD player.
Currently there are six global DVD regions, and DVD manufacturers can encode their product to play in any combination of regions. The vast majority of DVDs are Region 1 or 2 compatible, and many DVDs are "all-region"--suitable for playback on any player, anywhere.
Region 2 covers all of Europe, Japan, the Middle East and South Africa. These are the DVDs available from Amazon.co.uk. Region 1 discs (Canada and the U.S.A.) are available from Amazon.com's DVD store.
DVDs are protected with a system called Macrovision, however devices are available that disable this protection of any DVD player and enable the copying of DVDs to video in high quality.
The Sony Playstation 2 console is able to play DVDs, but complies to the regional coding like any other DVD player. In addition, the RGB output is disabled in DVD mode (everything is shown in green), presumably to prevent high quality copying of DVDs to video. In the UK, a popular product called Region-X is available that enables UK Playstation 2 consoles that normally play only Region-2 DVDs to play any DVD of any region, plus it gets rid of the dreaded "green screen" and delivers DVD output in full RGB colour. A similar product is available for the Microsoft Xbox, called Xbox DVD Region X.
Another solution is the Messiah Mod Chip for Playstation 2 and the Xtender Xbox mod chip that not only convert the console into a "region-free" DVD player, but also enables the console to play games destined for any market, including original games, backup copies of games and DVDs and illegal copies.
While numerous methods have emerged to illegally bypass DVD region encoding with "hacked" DVD players capable of playing DVDs from any region, movie studios have also increased their efforts to protect their regional copyrights with advanced DVD security coding. Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE) is added to some Warner Bros, New Line, Columbia DVDs to stop region 1 (R1) DVDs from playing on Region-free DVD players.
DVD Region 0
Any player and any country compatible
DVD Region 1
Canada, U.S. and its Territories Puerto Rico, American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, Palau, Micronesia, Mariana Islands, Marshall Islands, Canada DVD Region 2 Albania, Andorra, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Greenland, Hungary, Iceland, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Vatican City, Yemen, Yugoslavia.
DVD Region 3
Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam DVD Region 4 Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Aruba, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Falkland Islands, French Guiana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, New Guinea, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, Venezuela DVD Region 5 Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Bangladesh, Belarus, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, India, Ivory Coast, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Latvia, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Lithuania, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sri Lanka, St. Helena, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Zambia, Zimbabwe DVD Region 6 China
Regions for the Blu-ray standard:
A/1: The Americas, and their dependencies, East Asia (except China and Mongolia), Southeast Asia and Japan.
B/2: Africa, Southwest Asia, Europe (except Belarus, Russia and Ukraine), Oceania, and their dependencies.
C/3: Central Asia, East Asia (China and Mongolia only), South Asia, Eastern Europe, and their dependencies.As with the implementation of region codes for DVDs, Blu-ray Disc players sold in a specific geographical region are designed to play only discs authorized by the content provider for that region. This is intended to permit content providers (motion picture studios, etc.) the ability to support product differences in content, price, release date, etc., by region. According to the Blu-ray Disc Association, "all Blu-ray Disc players...(and) Blu-ray Disc-equipped computer systems are required to support regional coding." However, "Use of region playback codes is optional for content providers..." Some current estimates suggest 70% of available Blu-ray (movie) discs from the major studios are region-code-free and can therefore be played on any Blu-ray Disc player, in any region.
Movie studios have different region coding policies. Among major U.S. studios, Paramount Pictures and Universal Studios have released all of their titles region-free. Sony Pictures and Warner Bros. have released most of their titles region-free. Lionsgate and Walt Disney Pictures have released a mix of region-free and region-coded titles. 20th Century Fox and MGM have released most of their titles region-coded.
The Blu-ray Disc region coding scheme divides the world into 3 regions, labeled A, B, and C.
Region A includes most North, Central and South American and Southeast Asian countries plus Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan and Korea.
Region B includes most European, African and southwest Asian countries plus Australia and New Zealand.
Region C contains the remaining central and south Asian countries, as well as China and Russia.
In attempts to circumvent region coding restrictions, stand-alone Blu-ray Disc players are sometimes modified by third parties to allow for playback of Blu-ray (and DVD) discs with any region code. Instructions ('hacks') describing how to reset the Blu-ray region counter of some computer BD Disc player applications to make them multi-region indefinitely are also regularly posted to video-enthusiast websites and forums. Unlike DVD region codes, Blu-ray region codes are verified only by the player software, not by the drive and the computer operating system. The code is stored in a file of the player program or in the registry. In stand-alone players, it is part of the firmware.