How Does Region Locking Work?

with the world becoming smaller it's

pretty easy to find a foreign film

sporting event or breaking news story

that you're interested in from abroad

but then when you go to tune in or watch

that blu-ray you ordered from Hong Kong

BAM you're hit with an error saying you

can't watch hard-boiled with chow

yun-fat in your region well what gives

with that region locking has been a fact

of life for a while but has become

especially frustrating since DVDs rose

to popularity in the late 1990s and the

way it's worked since then is pretty

much like this when you go to buy a

movie or a TV show you might see a

little globe on the back with a number

from 1 through 7 for DVDs or a letter

from A through C for blu-ray discs these

refer to the region of the world the

disc is intended to be used in but why

would that matter well you see DVD and

blu-ray players sold in a specific

region are locked on a firmware level to

whichever region they are sold in which

like the disc you can usually see by

checking on the back of the player so if

you're in the US with a region one

player and you order a DVD from hongkong

like our example before which is in

region 3 assuming that you didn't buy a

region free disc on the black market you

are going to be out of luck though fun

fact some computer optical drives allow

you to change the region but after

you've done it a few times these drives

also become region locked in the

firmware but come on Linus

that's Stone Age technology I stream

everything online well even so you've

probably encountered region locking

anyway especially if you're trying to do

something like watch European soccer in

North America or access the u.s. Netflix

library from Canada in cases like these

the website you're trying to access will

determine your location by looking at

your IP address and block it if you're

in an IP range that they know belongs to

a different country and although many

enterprising movie lovers and sports

fans have gotten around this using VPN

services that route data traffic through

a different location which you can learn

more about here this

isn't a foolproof solution since some

content providers block IP ranges that

they suspect belong to commercial VPN

services as well okay then Linus why do

the powers that be bother with all of

this if I pay for something why can't I

just watch it don't they want my money

well it used to be that technological

compatibility was a big part of the

rationale for region locking when DVDs

started becoming widespread many TVs

were still predominantly using analog

inputs and different parts of the world

used incompatible standards for analog

TV with NTSC popular in the Americas

Korea and Japan and pal and SECAM

dominant in most of the rest of the

world this is actually why cartridges

for older game systems like thus ness

and Sega Genesis wouldn't work with

versions of the console purchased from

different countries although there were

workarounds but back to the bit about

creators in the modern day wanting your

money well someone definitely does but

who has the right to collect it you see

creators want to be able to control how

their content is distributed so they can

make royalties off of it and since there

isn't a worldwide emperor of copyright

Lord of distribution it often falls to

smaller third-party distributors in

individual countries who are contracted

to take a cut for handling marketing and

localization for the content and to pass

along some pre-negotiated royalties to

the original creator so with modern

digital standards allowing quick

distribution of nearly anything to the

entire world I still expect region

locking to be around for quite a while

as copyright holders try to keep their

content from floating about freely in

every corner of cyberspace and I wish

them luck with that speaking of luck if

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slash tech wiki by checking out the link

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