Blu-ray Disc Regional Codes Explained

DVD and Blu-ray disc media 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 Hollywood movies from being illegally distributed, region codes, were built into the DVD and Blu-ray disc formats.

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 DVD replicated 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 Blu-ray Replication 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 invalid or valid 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 disc replication factory. Duplicated Blu-ray and DVD discs that are duplicated are free of regional coding, 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 Blu-ray media will play back on set-top players, computers, and video game systems in virtually 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.

Please contact us with any Blu-ray duplication, replication or printing questions that you may have.

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