The region-lock feature on DVDs is an access control mechanism that is used in commercial DVD discs – it specifies the geographical region in which a DVD can be viewed. These regions are quite broad – region 1 specifies Canada and the US for example, while region 2 refers to Japan and Europe. Disks equipped with this feature (usually, ones that are sold with copyrighted content such as movies on them) are not supposed to be played outside of their region.
Technipages Explains DVD Region-Locking
This was in order to prevent audiences from viewing content that hadn’t yet been released in their local theatres, for example. It is worth noting that this is relatively low-security and quite easily circumventable. First off, it only checks if the DVD playing device is from the right region. In other words, a region 1 disk can absolutely play in Japan, if it is played in a Canadian device, for example.
There are even manufacturers that deliberately create DVD players that are capable of circumventing region locks, and if a user doesn’t have access to one of those, they can still circumvent it through the use of various computer utility tools. Circumventing these locks is illegal in some regions – including the US. In a time of virtual downloads and piracy, region-locks have become factually obsolete, although they do still exist.
Since it’s relatively easy to record and upload a movie online, physical access restrictions no longer really impact the availability of content outside of their respective area, though this is, of course, not legal.
Common Uses of DVD Region-Locking
- DVD region locks had their heyday before online streaming became the most popular way to view and consume movies worldwide.
- The use of DVD region locks is still common practice, though they can be bypassed with minimal effort.
- DVD region locking may be easily circumvented, but it is usually not legal – neither is streaming or downloading movies online, unless they are distributed by licensed sources.
Common Misuses of DVD Region-Locking
- DVD regional locks make sure that DVDs are only played in their respective geographical region by requiring a GPS (or similar) check of where a player and DVD are located before the content can be shown.