Why can I play some DVD movies but not others on my computer DVD-ROM?

Region codes on DVDs may prevent you from watching certain movies on your computer.
Region codes on DVDs may prevent you from watching certain movies on your computer.

DVD movies have region codes, and they typically only play on a player or DVD-ROM drive sold in the country where the DVD movie was sold.

The actual region code is in one byte on the DVD (digital versatile disc). The DVD player or drive has a region code in its firmware. Personal computer DVD-ROM players often have the code in the software or MPEG-2 decoder. The two codes must match for the player or drive to play the movie. The code is also printed on the back of a DVD package, superimposed on a small image of the globe.


Region code protection is used by the movie studios to thwart unauthorized duplication of their copyrighted material and to control the worldwide release dates. Movie studios agreed to the DVD format when DVD manufacturers agreed to put a region code on every disc. However, unauthorized hacks to the Windows 98 registry have allowed some to play any DVD on their personal computers.

DVD regional locking is used to control which DVD movies play in which countries or groups of countries. Movies are often released on different dates around the world. Region 1 has its own player that will only play Region 1 discs. Likewise, Region 2 players can only play Region 2 discs and not play any of Region 1's discs. The six codes are:

  1. United States and Canada
  2. Europe and Japan
  3. Southeast Asia
  4. Latin America and Australia
  5. Russia, rest of Asia and Africa
  6. China

There are also some outlets that sell Toshiba, Pioneer and Raite DVD players without region codes. See the next page to learn more.