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"Region coding" generally refers to the practice of limiting the use or playing of certain electronic media to specific geographic areas. Deliberate region coding started on DVDs, and it mostly applies to films and video games.

Studios do this to control the global release and distribution of their works. They justify it by claiming that it takes time to produce translations for foreign languages, clear censorship standards, abide by copyright terms, and pay local distributors around the world. People generally see this as a weak justification in an age of instant digital distribution, and they point out that this occurs even in places like the UK and Ireland which have no translation requirements and such for a film or game made in the United States and/or Canada.

In most countries, including the United States, it's considered illegal and a form of circumventing Copy Protection to disable region coding. However, in some countries, region coding itself is illegal as violating free trade agreements; Hong Kong, Australia, and New Zealand all require DVD players sold there to be either region-free, or region-locked with a setting to turn off region coding.

The practice has its roots in VHS and Betamax; though an analog format, footage was recorded at different speeds in NTSC and PAL video signals to accommodate to the respective regions' power outlets, making them incompatible with VCRs of other regions, unless you could find a special region-free VCR or converter box.

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    DVDs and Blu-rays 
DVD players were the first to use widespread and specific region coding. DVD players assign a number to each region; a DVD with one region number cannot be played on a DVD player with a different region number. The same system applies to PlayStation Portable UMDs and software. The specific region codes are:
  • 0: Either no set region or regions 1-6; this applies to a DVD that can be played on any DVD player anywhere in the world or a DVD player that can play DVDs from any region.
  • 1: The US, Canada, and Bermuda.
  • 2: Most of Europe and the Middle East, South Africa, Eswatininote , Lesotho, and Japan.
  • 3: East and Southeast Asia except for China, Japan, and North Korea.
  • 4: Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and Latin America (except French Guiananote ).
  • 5: Africa (except Egypt, South Africa, Lesotho, and Eswatini), South Asia (including India), Central Asia, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Mongolia, and North Korea.
  • 6: Mainland China.
  • 7: Reserved for internal use by the MPAA; often used for copies sent to censors and critics before consumer release.
  • 8: Distant transportation venues, such as airplanes and cruise ships, for use in international skies and waters, although many of these venues just use the format and player type of their home nations.
  • 9: All eight regions combined.

Region coding was predictably one of the first things to be cracked on DVD players. In the United States, it's technically illegal to circumvent region coding, as with any DRM. In other countries, it's completely legal, but it may invalidate your warranty on some devices. A few countries, like Australia, New Zealand, and Hong Kong, have made DVD region locking illegal and require all DVD players sold there to be region-free or have the ability to turn off region coding. In other countries, like Sweden, Malaysia and the Philippines, you can easily get a region-free DVD player, but you have to ask for a region-free one specifically, otherwise you're getting the region-locked one by default. Although in the case of Malaysia and The Philippines, the numerous Chinese off-brand players that are found in big box stores and corner electrical shops are usually region-free off-the-shelf, it's the big brand ones from the likes of Sony and Panasonic that are region-locked by default.

And this is hardly a foolproof thing. Many DVD players do allow you to change region (e.g. if you change continents and want to take your DVD player with you), but only a limited number of times (usually five) before it locks itself to the last selected region. Even then, it's possible to circumvent it with a patch or by reflashing the drive's firmware. Most older PC optical drives are totally region-free and can play DVDs from any region.

Blu-ray discs have their own region coding, which is much less torturous:

  • A: The Americas and most of Asia;
  • B: Europe, Africa, Australia, and New Zealand;
  • C: China, the former USSR, and other parts of Asia not covered by Region A.

Region coding on Blu-Rays tends to be half-assed; it's basically designed only to deter casuals (as noted in the footnote of this Techmoan video) and can be easily circumvented — if you tap the "Top Menu" button repeatedly, the player will eventually just give up and move on to the main menu, and you can then play the video normally. And that's if they implement region coding at all — in many cases, they won't even bother to region-lock the disc or the player, even if it claims otherwise on the case or box. For Ultra HD Blu-ray, they outright stopped region coding altogether, although UHD players can still enforce region coding on standard Blu-ray Discs.

    Video Game Consoles 
Most older video game consoles have a natural region coding simply because of different television display formats on analog sets. Most of the world is split typically uses either PAL (Europe, Oceania and most of Asia) and NTSC (the Americas and some Asian countries) video signals. However, additional region locking devices have been around since the 1980s, ostensibly to prevent piracy but which effectively acted as a region coding scheme. Devices that circumvent this protection are technically illegal but remain popular for certain systems to facilitate Import Gaming.
  • Nintendo was the first to introduce region locking on the Nintendo Entertainment System:
    • In 1984, it introduced a lockout chip called the 10NES. While its purpose was to prevent piracy and Shovelware by ensuring that only Nintendo-certified games would run on the system, it had the side effect of region locking the console; the US and European versions (and there were two different versions used in Europe) all had slightly different versions of the chip, so a game that ran on one version would not run on the others, while the Japanese version lacks the 10NES chip completely. It's easy enough to circumvent the lockout, though — either get an adapter with the matching chip which will play any game plugged into it, or pop open the console and cut pin #4, which prevents the chip from sending the "disable" signal to the console.note 
    • Peripherals were also subject to region-coding, accidental or not. The Japanese Famicom's cartridge slot had fewer pins than the export NES, and it also had a DB15 expansion port which was removed from the US version. This prevented US gamers from using Japanese peripherals and cartridges. American NES controllers are similarly incompatible with European consoles, but the reverse isn't true — US consoles work fine with European controllers. This is largely believed to be the result of a kludge to adapt the console to 50Hz operation and output, but it may also be an attempt at region-locking.
  • The Super NES had the same copy protection chip on all consoles worldwide, so preventing shovelware didn't imply region locking on that system; but the SNES did have two plastic tabs that physically prevented you from inserting a Japanese Super Famicom game into the system (a scheme later used by the Nintendo 64). You could fix that with a pair of pliers (and a willingness to void your warranty). Inversely, the Super Famicom had a different, slightly smaller and curved cartridge slot shape, and getting a SNES cartridge to fit requires significantly more effort (requiring you to modify the slot cover or the top of the machine). Either way, you would still run into problems trying to play a European/Australian game on a Japanese or American console or vice-versa, as many games would detect an incorrect speed or query the PPU for its version code, and display a message telling you that your game is in the wrong region, made possible by the fact that European/Australian SNES systems ran at a slower speed compared to their Japanese and American counterparts and that European/Australian consoles has a different code programmed into the PPU.note 
  • The Nintendo 64 has five different copy protection chip types (two for Europe and Australia and three for Japan and North America consoles, even though one chip will work on all consoles with the same PAL/NTSC standard). However, this time the lock is built right onto an ASIC that handles several other aspects of the console's IO, which means that shorting it with a spike to knock it out would outright kill the console. Games could also communicate with their chip to determine the exact type, so just slapping a copy of the game's EEPROM onto an adapter with a donor cartridge piggybacked or a cheat cartridge won't work either. However as of 2020 the copy protection chip has been fully clean room reverse-engineered.
  • The Sega Genesis has an odd region coding system. Sega, trying to cut costs, designed the console so that changing the region is as simple as swapping a few jumpers on the motherboard to change the console's clock speed and language. Once you did that, you could effectively change the console's region (although you did have to fiddle with Japanese cartridges to get them to fit into other regions' consoles and vice-versa), which is why the common mod for the Genesis and Mega Drive was to add a pair of switches to the console to allow for adjustment of the region settings. Chinese companies also made several "region adapters" that plugged in between the console and the cartridge. Early games never even bothered with region coding; some even used the settings for Country Switch purposes.
    • One particularly odd instance is the game Mickey Mania: When booting the Japanese release in an American or European console, the game will display a "Developed for use only with NTSC Mega Drive Systems" message and refuse to launch. However, if the region is switched over to Japan at this point, which is only possible with a modded system or an emulator, the message will change to "Oh...This machine has some how become an NTSC Mega Drive System" and load. Word of God from the lead programmer is that this was added in as an Easter Egg.
    • The Sega 32X has a similar region coding system; all one needs to do to make the device region-free is to mod a pair of switches onto the add-on that is wired to a pair of jumpers in the expansion.
    • The Sega CD has region coding in its firmware, but it just checks one particular file against the CD (which itself uses the industry standard ISO 9660 file system). It also lacks any other form of copy protection (coming as it does from an era when a CD burner cost about the same as a new car). Once CD burners became affordable, it was as simple as imaging the original disc, using a patching program to change the file, and then burning the disc. However, this tended to upset purists, which is why homebrewers eventually created region-free firmwarenote .
  • Early portable consoles tended to lack region coding, on the theory that (a) they don't use a TV and (b) since you can easily take the system anywhere around the world, you should be able to play any game you may find there. But later portable consoles made extensive use of region coding:
    • The Nintendo DSi has region locking, but only for specific DSi features, such as online compatibility; only downloadable games and games with DSi specific functionality have region coding themselves.
    • The Nintendo 3DS has region locking for both cartridge and downloadable games. Nintendo allegedly incorporates a whitelist database on each device, which contains a list of valid games; games not on the list won't run. This is supposedly why the 3DS regularly got updates even when there are no new features or bug fixes. There was exactly one region-free game released for the console, however - Nintendo 3DS Guide: Louvre, which was sold exclusively at the Louvre gift shop. Obviously region-locking a product aimed at tourists would be non-ideal.
    • The PSP has region coding for UMD movies, the same as for DVDs, and it also has optional region coding for games; for instance, EA used it to lock copies of BattleZone sold in Asia so that they would only play on Asian PSPs (probably because it's so much cheaper in Asia than elsewhere). Sony also uses region coding to limit certain features and applications; Asian PSPs will not detect or launch the comic book viewer app, and only Japanese and British PSPs can use the Remote TV Viewer app to remotely watch content received and recorded by the PS3 TV tuner add-on (which was only sold in the UK and Japan).
  • The Useful Notes/{Wii}} had region locking split between four region codes: U (USA), J (Japan) E (Europe) and K (Korea). Very trivial to remove this check with a softmod. Interestingly, Virtual Console and Wii Ware games also have region coding, despite the fact that it's impossible to install out-of-region games in the first place without a softmod.
  • The Playstation and the Playstation 2 have three region identifiers, NTSC-U/C (Canada, United States), NTSC-J (Japan), and PAL (Europe and Australia). In addition to mod chips that circumvent this and Copy Protection, there is a utility (called PS-X-Change for the former and Swap Magic for the latter) that allow all regions to work (though European/Australian games will move slightly slower, as they run at 50fps on a 60fps console) by allowing you to swap the disk for a foreign region one after the utility disk's region has been checked. Because they also allow you to play any pirated game that doesn't have multiple disks or specific anti-mod protection (like Spyro: Year of the Dragon), later editions of the consoles were altered to prevent the disks from working.
  • Strangely, only two PlayStation 3 games have any region locking:
    • Persona 4: Arena had it, which caused Atlus a lot of flak thanks to the game's extremely delayed European release, even though it was totally region-locked worldwide. Atlus claims that the region-locking was to dissuade Japanese and European players from importing the cheaper US version, which angered Europeans (especially English-speakers from the UK and Ireland) who saw themselves as the victim of yet another arbitrary and unfair price hike. Add to that the serious delay in the European launch (including the withdrawal of the existing launch date and a new one not being announced until early 2013), and the backlash was such that European gamers cancelled pre-orders and threatened to boycott the launch. This rattled Atlus so much that they didn't dare do it again.
    • JoySound Dive is a Japanese PSN-exclusive game which not only won't run on a non-Japanese PS3, it won't even run on a Japanese PS3 which recognizes that it's not in Japan. This is likely because it's a karaoke game and JASRAC (the Japanese RIAA counterpart) would complain otherwise about music reproduction rights, although a later re-release on the PS3 and PS4 is region-free, likely because JASRAC finally realized that there's a huge market for Japanese music outside of Japan.
    • Some other games (like Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme vs. Full Boost and Army of Two) are region-free but have region-locked online play, ostensibly to prevent extreme imbalances in ability between regions.
  • The Eighth Generation of Console Video Games may be heralding the end of region locking in home video game consoles. Sony received such a backlash from its two region-locked PS3 games that it pledged a region-free PlayStation 4. Microsoft originally intended to region-lock the Xbox One to only 21 countries, but backed out when critics vocally protested. Nintendo, ever concerned about shovelware, maintained region coding on the Wii U (not that it stopped the shovelware at all), but it abandoned it for the Nintendo Switch, making it the company's first ever region-free home console. Although region locking remains an option for developers, few of them want to deal with that anymore.

    Encoding Standards 
We've mentioned this before, but one way to enforce region locking (whether you want to or not) is through encoding standards — that is, the way a television picks up signals and sends them to your screen. This would affect VHS, DVD, video games — anything that uses a TV. If your film or game uses a different encoding standard than the TV you're trying to watch or play it on, it won't work.

The analog TV standards are PAL, SECAM, and NTSC. In general, NTSC was used in the Americas (except Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay), Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Burma, and the Philippines; SECAM was used in France, the former Soviet Union, West Africa, and other French possessions (current and former), and PAL was used for most of Europe, most of Asia, the rest of Africa and South America, Australia, and New Zealand. The main difference arises in the color encoding standards and the "refresh rate" (i.e. how the TV knows when and where to put the frames on the screen).

Then there's the transmission standard, which is further divided into System A through System S, which determines the image and sound modulation as well as the refresh rate: A TV meant for China, which uses PAL-D, will produce static noise despite having a clear picture, when receiving PAL-B signal, which is used in Australia, due to technical differences regarding audio defined by the transmission system. In some cases images are even inverted, and may be rolling due to different refresh rates used by different transmission systems. Additionally it's possible to mix and match transmission and color encoding standards, as seen egregiously in Brazil where the PAL color standard is used on top of System M, the basic black and white signal normally used for NTSC broadcasts, ensuring that PAL TVs from outside the country can't be used at all while NTSC TVs from North America can only pick up a black and white signal.

And then there are the frequency ranges, divided into CCIR which is typically used in most countries that deployed the PAL color system (Brazil, Australia and China being the only exemptions), OIRT which typically used in countries who deployed the SECAM color system (although China uses it with PAL color, albeit with the System-D and System-K transmission standard), and NTSC which is used in the US and Canada (NTSC can mean both the color system and the frequency boundaries defining VHF and UHF in the Americas) and in Brazil despite Brazil deploying the PAL color systemnote . However Japan and Australia have their own ranges that defer from other NTSC and PAL countries. France also previously used their own range while broadcasting in System E, but had since abandoned it for OIRT. Believe it or not, different parts of the world have different ideas on what frequency range constitutes as VHF and UHF. Historically, the biggest barrier from using a Japanese TV in the US is that the Channel 5 used in Japan (176MHz) is actually four megahertz off Channel 7 (180MHz) in the US, ensuring that it will never be able to get a clear picture unless the TV is readjusted by a qualified technician. In fact, this is the main reason it is so difficult to hook up a Famicom to a North American TV in that the TV has to have a built-in cable tuner that supported the extended NTSC CATV frequencies to be compatible with a Famicom: the Famicom's RF output puts out the signal at a frequency that is within Japanese VHF specs, but out of spec of the NTSC VHF band range and in the range of the NTSC Extended CATV band instead.

And on top of all that, there are also differing Stereo and Teletext standads. PAL and SECAM areas tend to either use NICAM or Zweikanaltonnote  Stereo, while NTSC areas tends to use BTSC (usually marketed under the name MTS), except Japan, who used their own incompatible stereo deployment called EIAJ, and South Korea, who adopted a version of Zweikanalton that had been altered to be compatible with NTSC System M transmission.

On the Teletext front, SECAM countries tend to use the Antiope Teletext system (Although India deployed the Antiope system over PAL), while PAL countries tend to use CEEFAX, and Japan uses it's own system called JTES. The United States was home to a Teletext format war with Superstation WTBS choosing CEEFAX while ABC, CBS and NBC choose the more advanced NABTS system, however this schism ultimately led to the demise of teletext in the US, with no teletext deployment in the end. However, NABTS did see limited deployment in Brazil and Canada.

It wasn't as bad as you'd think, though. Because PAL and SECAM use the same frame rate standards, it's possible for one system to show another tape, but only in black and white because of the different color standards- most of the time: most PAL VCRs would be hard-pressed to play Brazilian tapes as the country used the PAL color standard on top of System M, the baseline transmission standard typically used for NTSC elsewhere. Conversely, NTSC VCRs in North America has the strange quirk of being able to play back PAL tapes in black and white, but only those from Brazil, as Brazilian VCRs ran at NTSC speed despite storing color in PAL. Some later VHS machines in the UK could even adjust to play NTSC tapes. And Asia had a ton of world-multi VCRs and TV sets just because of the different standards used all over the place (largely based on which Western power ran the place when the system was implemented, and also the country's trading partners at the given time).

Video game consoles had a region locking scheme based on this with standards like PAL (Europe, Australia and New Zealand as well as South Africa) NTSC-U/C (the Americas and later, parts of Asia), NTSC-J (Japan and prior to late 2000s, much of Asia), NTSC-K (Korea), and NTSC-C (China), which don't even have anything to do with the transmission standards we just described. For the most part, though, they didn't differ too much in how a game was displayed on the screen.

In the digital age, we don't need analog standards anymore, but this just leads to different classifications. There are four digital systems now: ISDB is used in most of Latin and South America, Japan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Botswana in Africa; ATSC is used in North America and its foreign territories, and South Korea; DVB is used in Europe, most of Africa, the rest of Asia, and several outlying South American countries; and DMB is used in China (and as a secondary system for portable receivers in South Korea, which technically uses a different version incompatible with the Chinese version). To further complicate matters, there are two versions of DVB, and tuners built for version 2 are backwards-compatible with version 1, but not vice-versa, which causes headaches for early adopters in countries like Malaysia and Singapore as the country started with version 1 of the DVB standard but migrated to version 2 eventually. And yes, the multiple variants of ISDB implemented in South America and the Philippines are said to be not compatible with each other, let alone its original Japanese variant,note  although it is later revealed that The Philippines, Japan and South America has entered an agreement which standardized the version of ISDB used in the countries- the new version of ISDB deployed by Botswana, Sri Lanka, The Philippines and South America is called ISDB-Tb and only differs from the original Japanese version by means of reception frequency (Japan's VHF/UHF frequency range traditionally is unique to Japan itself). It's incredibly difficult for a country to change standards, too (just ask Thailand, who dumped NTSC for PAL in 1989). And to top it off, HD images can be 24, 25, or 30 frames per second, and many American TVs refuse to recognize 25fps input.

    Cell Phones 
Cell phones are weird, as they tended to be region locked based on frequency range (before modern cell-phones went to multi-band world phones, and even then many lower end modern phones and even some high end ones only supported the bands in the region the phone is sold in). A cell phone in one region wouldn't be compatible with the cell network in another. This is in addition to SIM-locking, where the phone can only work with a SIM card from the company that sold you the service (a practice which isn't even legal in all countries).
  • In the 2G era, it was usually the American 850MHz/1.9GHz against the rest of the world's 900MHz/1.8GHz. Tri-band 2G phones would work with all telcos in their home region and select telcos in other regions, and Quad-band 2G phones would allow you to use networks in both regions.
  • In the 3G era, it got more complicated. The US used 850MHz/1.7GHz/1.9GHz, most of the rest of the world used 900MHz/2.1GHZ, and Japan, Korea, and Australia had their own 800MHz band (but only for very isolated places like the Australian outback). Penta-band 3G phones would work everywhere except those isolated places, and hex-band 3G phones would work everywhere.
  • In the 4G era, we've now got at least nine bands: the Americas uses 700MHz/1.7GHz/1.9GHz, Europe, South Africa, the Middle East and the Pacific uses 800MHz/1.8GHz/2.6GHz, and Asia use 850MHz/900MHz/2.1GHznote . Then you have the TDD frequencies - 2.3, 2.5, and 3.5 GHz. So far, there is no world-capable phone that can support all of the bands, but several phones can support all the non-TDD ones.
  • This continues into the 5G era as well. The rest of the world has opted to deploy band n78 as its main frequency. The Americas as well as its former and current territories? They chose to deploy band n41 as their main frequency instead. This isn't as bad as the 4G era, but it appears that American telcos do not like interoperability.
  • Samsung region-locks their phones so that they have to be activated with a SIM card from the country they're sold in, even if the phone itself isn't SIM-locked. This means that a Galaxy S5 that you buy in, say, Malaysia, won't work when you get it brand new and immediately try to use any Singaporean SIM cards first thing. However, if you start it up first thing with a SIM card from a in-country telco and use it for a few days, the restriction will lift and you can then just swap in a SIM from your preferred telco. Samsung has upfront admitted that the restriction is in place to prevent people from one country from buying a phone from another country as Samsung practices price segregation, although in a cruel twist, the phones are cheaper in first World countries than in second and third world ones.

    Power Supply 
The most primitive form of region coding, where the power is divided between "old world" (220v-240v) and "new world" (100v-120v). This is further divided into 50Hz/60Hz alternations, with Japan using both 50Hz and 60Hz alternations- with 60Hz covering the West and 50Hz covering the East- even though voltage is normalized at 100v. For the rest of the world it's far more straightforward- the "old world" (most of Asia, Europe, Africa and Oceania) uses power that is normalized at 230v and alternates at 50Hz, while the "new world" (read: The Americas, as well as areas in Asia previously occupied by US forces) uses power that is normalized at 110v and alternates at 60Hz. Unless a device has been rated for all four voltages and both alternation frequency, it's bad news to plug a device not intended for the voltage into the outlet without a conversion transformer, especially with regards to "new world" devices in "old world" regions, where the outcome would be a loud pop and smoke, and fire if you're really unlucky. However, "old world" device owners are far more lucky- not only do their devices not go pop when plugged into "new world" power as they're meant to receive voltages two times higher than what "new world" sockets can supply (at worst, it trips the home's safety breaker), but there are typically sockets in "new world" homes that can supply an ample 230v power, these sockets operates off two-phase power and are usually meant for power-hungry devices like refrigerators, air conditioners and washers, but can be used to power a "old world" device in cases of emergency with the right adapter in place.

For many devices with a wall wart or power brick, the solution would be to source a wall wart meant for the region's equivalent of the device and using that with the old device. However for devices that uses AC power directly, a conversion transformer is often needed. Some devices like desktop computer power supplies and boomboxes may have a voltage selector switch hidden somewhere, usually in a discreet location around the back or inside the device. Unfortunately, a number of cheaper desktop computer power supplies are now hardwired for only one voltage type, these power supplies are usually sold in second-world and third-world countries, which almost always use 220-240v. If you ended up buying a PC with such a power supply, your choices are to either replace the power supply, use a step-up transformer, or if available, use a socket that provides two-phase power.

This is usually mitigated on charger wall warts meant for portable devices like laptops, cellphones and camcorders, as it is understood that these devices are to be used anywhere in the world and thus need to be able to charge off any wall socket available regardless of the country's power specifications.

This chart shows some different wall plug types used around the world.

    The Greater Internet 
The Internet is becoming the new region coding battleground. Companies will release content on the Internet but restrict viewing or accessing it to certain regions, as verified by IP address. Some services, like YouTube, even allow people to upload their own videos and region-lock them.
  • Online content providers occasionally lock by region:
    • The BBC iPlayer is one of the earliest and most prominent examples. This is because the BBC is funded by a license paid by every household in the UK to allow them to legally watch broadcast television, which makes it otherwise free in the UK. Outside the UK, you can't watch the streaming service because you haven't paid for it. But within the UK, you don't have to pay the license if you don't actually have a TV, but you can still watch the iPlayer since there's no way for the BBC to verify that you do pay the license, making this a very attractive option for cord-cutters; the BBC is having such trouble with this that there's talk of dropping the iPlayer restriction entirely. That said, there have been awkward instances where the BBC in the UK uploads something, only for BBC Studios, the international profit-making arm, to block it for copyright reasons.
      • BBC Studios has recently launched a version of iPlayer now christened BBC Player in Asia. The catch? It's only available to subscribers of a particular cable company in Singapore and Malaysia respectively. Those outside the two countries, or even those in the two countries but are subscribed to a different ISP, are blocked off access to the service.
    • The ABC in Australia has its iView system similarly blocked to non-Australians, but the ABC offers its programming for free just on principle; there is no TV license in Australia like there is in the UK. The ABC claims it's due to licensing issues — i.e. it costs too much for them to ensure that they have the rights to show something outside of Australia — but they do this even to shows they've produced themselves, which is particularly mind-boggling. It turns out that they have changed their tone and no longer want to offer their programming to those living outside Australia for free- those living outside of Australia would need to get a paid channel called Australia Plus TV from their local pay TV provider to get ABC shows, tough luck if their provider doesn't carry that channel. Additionally, they've started engaging in International Coproductions to save on cost, and part of the side effect of that is that it muddies production ownership enough that they cannot offer shows for free if the partner company chooses to sell the shows instead.
    • And then of course there's Hulu, the bane of forum and blog readers stationed outside the US and Japan. Unlike Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, Hulu has made no effort to expand worldwide, only empty promises (the expansion to Japan was only possible due to a partnership (and later ownership via license in Japan) with Nippon TV- meaning Nippon TV had to invite Hulu into the market, and did the brunt of the work setting up the system for Hulu), until the arrival of the Star section on a lot of Disney+ countries outside the US and Latin America (Which does have its own Hulu, Star+) that it became the nearest most of those countries have to Hulu (Albeit unlike Hulu, most of the Star content are from Disney's older audience labels, and there are no third-party ones). Also gets baffling since Japan in the only country that has both Hulu and Star.
    • While Netflix is now available worldwide, it still has region coding; not every show is available in every region. It often happens in a show's home country, where it may be licensed exclusively to some other provider, but which can be shown outside that country on Netflix. This tends not to happen with Netflix exclusives, but you still see it (such as the Netflix-exclusive seasons of Arrested Development being unavailable in Asia).
    • Amazon Prime Video is available in more than 200 countries, of which most only has access to a little over a hundred titles; only those who have their own Amazon domain are the first to get pretty much everything. This is because they are the primary targets for the service currently; all other countries are served by a different website and are effectively a separate (inferior) service, apparently a placeholder while Amazon is behind and playing catch-up to Netflix in global expansion (and taking their own sweet time in doing so).
    • Disney+ region locks their services. Basically, Oceania, The Americas, Europe, Africa and the Middle East, Singapore and East Asia gets the real deal. The rest of South-East and South Asia gets a cut-down, extra censored, filled with local cruft and has tons of content missing version of Disney+ called Disney+ Hotstar. Ironically, before October 2021, Japan also got a slightly nerfed version of Disney+ that is actually a rebranded version of the Disney Deluxe video-on-demand service despite being a huge market for Disney. (It has since been replaced with a proper Disney+ as of January 2022.)
  • This happens in online video games too:
    • Many MMORPGs have a variant of region coding which prevents you from playing the game if it detects that you are connected to the Internet outside its region. Sometimes this is to ensure that players are matched up with similar players. Other times, it's to ensure compliance with local laws; in Korea, for instance, MMO hosts are required to verify the identities of every registered user, and they usually do this by asking for a Korean resident registration number and copy of a Korean ID card which foreigners wouldn't be able to supply.
    • Konami's eAMUSEMENT Participation program, used for some Konami arcade games, requires a connection to the eAMUSEMENT network in order for the game to work. These services are limited to Japan, some other Asian countries, and the United States and Canada (thanks to the presence of Japanese-owned arcade chain Round 1); these arcade games cannot be played in any other country. Unfortunately for Konami, this led to the proliferation of Shoddy Knockoff Products in these parts of the world, and when parallel importers found out that Konami did make versions of these games that did not need eAMUSEMENT to function for the Chinese market, parallel exports of those happened instead.
    • Buying Team Fortress 2 from a German IP address will result in it being permanently locked in "party mode", which replaces the Ludicrous Gibs with objects like cake slices and candy.
  • Online stores often do some form of region locking, often by only accepting credit cards from within their own countries. It's particularly annoying when they will still happily let you search and browse through the entire catalog, only for it to tell you you're not allowed to buy what you've found in your region.
    • Amazon locks its MP3 store by preventing you from buying anything unless your IP address belongs to an ISP in the country the store is in. Its app store was also initially only available to a few countries; in earlier years, this mapped to countries where the Kindle was sold.
    • Apple's app store is rather irrationally segregated by region. Certain apps might not be available in your country, even if other apps by the same developer are. It's weird enough for there to be a form to request Apple to make the app available (but its final availability is at the developer's discretion). Apple prefers to do its copy protection through DRM anyway.
    • Most Android Games are not region locked, but some can't be downloaded from the Play Store in certain regions. There are workarounds, though, you could easily move your game to your other phone since the APK files aren't encrypted, except you can't update it to a new version, and certain games are coming up with their own third party DRM anyway- using APK extension, which can be region locked through several means (including GPS location, your telco's MNC code, and basic IP georestrictions).
  • Circumventing this is a selling point for VPNs (Virtual Private Network), many of which allow you to access content from other regions by hiding your IP address behind a fake IP address disguised as one from another country. That said, many sites, especially streaming platforms like Netflix and Hulu, are increasingly becoming aware of this (mainly because these VPNs heavily advertise the fact that you can use them to bypass Netfilx's and Hulu's region locking) and have enforced measures to detect VPN IP addresses and prevent them from accessing their service.

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