The PC-DVD Guide -> DVD-Video Basics -> Copy Protection

Region protection

The world DVD market is divided into 6 regions. In any 1 region, you can only use players and discs made for this region. If you try to use a different regioned disc and machine together, you'll get an error. Region 0 refers to region-free discs (sometimes they are programmed as Region 0,1,2,3,4,5,6, so they are playable in all players - documentaries, music DVDs are usually Region 0). Here is a map of the world regions :

Region Map
1 - USA, Canada

2 - Europe, Near East, South Africa, Japan

3 - South East Asia

4 - Australia, Middle & South America

5 - Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe

6 - People's Republic of China

Macrovision protection

Macrovision is a form of analogue copy protection. Most VHS sell-through tapes have these and so do most DVD discs. With Macrovision, if you try to copy the tape/DVD using your VCR, the resulting picture will be distorted, usually periods of dark/light followed by the picture totally distorted.

While with VHS tapes, the protection data is written on the tape it self, DVDs don't have this data. Instead, it has data that tells the DVD player to either enable or disable Macrovision. This is why macrovision doesn't effect all discs (eg. some older MGM DVDs do not have Macrovision). Players can also be modified (read : hacked) to remove Macrovision protection. If you use a software decoder with a graphics card with tv-out, sometimes macrovision will also not exist. For more information, please refer to DVD Digest's Macrovision-free Guide.

CSS protection

This is a form of digital copy protection. All DVDs have them. CSS - content scrambling system - consists of a series of encrypted keys (around 400). Each DVD player, hardware or software, will have an individual key. All DVD discs must contain all 400 keys, to be used with the different DVD player. The DVD player, whether software or hardware, must have a "key" that matches the key on the DVD. This allows the digital data on the disc to be opened. If you don't have a key, for example you try to copy the DVD data straight to your hard-disk, then the resulting digital data will be garbage. CSS can be overcome by using DVD rippers on your computer - please refer to DVD Digest and's DVD Ripping Guide for more information.

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