Blu-ray is the main reason the home theater experience has become popular, serving as a foundation for elevating both video and audio quality. However, as with DVD discs, Blu-ray also has a dark side: Region coding (also referred to as region lock). This Blu-ray technology will limit which discs will play on your player - and so may not work on your hardware depending on where you bought them. While some discs are region-free, many are not and so Blu-ray regions can be an important consideration if you buy plenty of Blu-ray discs.

Blu-ray Region Codes, or How the World Is Divided

The region code scheme for Blu-ray comprises 3 region codes, as shown in Figure 2. Unlike in the case of DVD releases, Blu-ray discs that play in regions A, B, and C are common.

The map below shows these areas:


Assigned Countries
North America, Central America, South America, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia
Europe, Greenland, French territories, Middle East, Africa, Australia and New Zealand
Pakistan, India, China, Russia, Central and South Asia


What Are the Blu-ray Regions For?

Blu-ray region codes were introduced to by the movie studios to allow them to regulate the market and protect their interests. There are three main reasons for having these codes.

Firstly, because movies are released around the world at different times, the coding is supposed to limit a movie appearing in a particular region before it is officially released.

Secondly, Blu-ray discs have different pricing structures around the globe, and so the studios have a means to try and stop cheaper discs being bought in one part of the world and being sent to another area with more expensive discs.

Lastly, discs from different regions may offer alternative content that is targeted to that particular area of the world such as trailers, extras etc.

How Does It Work?

The Blu-ray Disc Association requires all forms of Blu-ray players to support regional coding. This means every player you buy will have this coding system as part of it's software or firmware, although the actual method used will vary for standalone players and computer-based products.

Conversely, for the discs themselves, the movie studios do not have to encode the discs with region information - it is an optional requirement. This means that although your Blu-ray player will support the region restrictions, if you buy a region-free Blu-ray disc then you are able to play it anywhere and on any player.

If the disc is coded (and the region code A,B or C will be marked on the back of the discs cover), then you will only be able to play it on a machine that is able to play that particular region.

How To Defeat Region Coding

You can purchase region-free standaloneBlu-ray players in a variety of stores. In the US, examples include International Video and Electronics, World Import, and J&R Electronics. When purchasing such a player, make sure that the player supports video system conversion if you plan to view PAL (25 fps) video on an NTSC (30 fps) display, or vice-versa.

There is another way that is safe, reliable, easy and cost-effective: just got a special program to assist you in removing Blu-ray region code, and you can play the Blu-ray movie with No Region Code on almost any devices. For your great convenience, here we would like to recommend you a comprehensive program entitled EaseFab LosslessCopy (available for Windows and Mac users), which can remove region code from both Blu-ray and DVD disc, via converting DVD/Blu-ray to MKV, MP4, MOV, M4V, MP3, FLAC,etc. By ripping Blu-ray to digital formats, we can also protect valuable Blu-ray discs from scratch or damage.

What's more, it can convert video clips from proprietary encrypted Blu-ray/DVD discs to into MKV files with multiple video/audio tracks with all meta-information and preserve chapters. Additionally LosslessCopy can rip BD/DVD to MP4 and MOV with multiple audio streams. It also comes with a built-in editor which allows you to do various functional editing on the video files. All in all, EaseFab LosslessCopy is the best choice to backup, rip and convert BD/DVD discs that you own into free and patents-unencumbered format that can be played everywhere.

Q1: Do all Blu-ray discs have region codes?

A1: Not at all. Many movie studios such as Paramount and Universal do not encode their discs with region codes at all, while others encode some discs but not others. However, this does mean that you have to be careful when you are buying Blu-ray discs, as you cannot be sure which are restricted and which are not unless you make a point to check. It is estimated that approximately 70% of Blu-ray discs are not locked to a particular region.

Q2: Can I Buy a Region-Free Blu-ray Player?

A2: Generally, no. As already stated, manufacturers are required to implement the coding in all their players. Having said that, in some countries such as Australia and Hong Kong, it is illegal to install the region locking software in players and so there are players available in these areas without this restriction.

However, there are also modification techniques that you can find on the internet to make various Blu-ray players region-free - but this won't be supported by the manufacturer and you do so at your own risk to your hardware. Some models of Blu-ray players are easier to do this for than others. Just bear in mind, in some countries it may be seen as illegal to try and unlock a player that has been locked, and so take this into account before you try this.

So as you can see, you cannot generalise about this subject too much as the implementation and legality varies from country to country.