Commercial DVDs and Region Codes
Mac Tip #102/21-May-2003
I have a growing collection of DVDs: a couple of movies (bought from the US) and some episodes of favourite TV shows (bought locally in New Zealand and from the UK). The problem with this collection is that the DVDs use three different Region Codes.
DVD region codes
The DVD world has been divided into different regions. The USA is Region 1, the UK is Region 2 and New Zealand and Australia are Region 4. You can see a more detailed list of countries and regions at the Apple website.
The big movie companies tend to release movies in different countries at different times.
Often they are available in a country like the US long before they open in places like New Zealand. The problem (for the distributors) is that those of us keen to see the movie before it’s officially released in our country may simply buy a DVD and watch that.
In order to counteract this crime against the natural order DVDs generally come with special protection called Region Coding.
Your Mac warns you about changing regions
Each DVD you buy or borrow is likely to be assigned to a particular region, although there is also a special Region 0 which can be played anywhere.
When you insert the first DVD into your Mac you’ll see a warning which advises your Region Code will be set to that of the DVD.
Your Mac locks to one region
If you then try to play a DVD from a different region your DVD player will be set to that region. After 5 changes the region is locked to that of the last DVD you inserted.
If you try to play, for example, a Region 1 DVD in a player locked to Region 4 it simply won’t play.
What this means in real life
If you live in New Zealand and rent DVDs from the local video store you’ll see a good selection of both Region 1 (US) and Region 4 (NZ) DVDs available.
Once your computer has locked to one of those regions though you’ll be restricted to playing DVDs with that Region code.
So just be a bit careful about the DVDs you choose to play. Look carefully at the packaging to see which region they are coded for.
And if you’ve never watched a DVD then go down to the video store and rent one — often they have features not available on a video such as interviews with the director and cast, blooper reels and the like.